By Spencer Viernes, Scholé Yoga University Student
I’ve been attending Scholé Yoga classes for about six months now. I am a true novice to yoga, which is to say I can’t claim any expertise of long term practice that would make me feel like I can call myself a yogi. While I have attended yoga classes before attending Scholé (I’ve been attending yoga classes on and off for about a year now), I haven’t been introduced to yoga classes that are quite like these. I know my experience is my own anecdote, so others may take my words with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, this is my description of the experience I’ve had with Scholé and why I think it is so beneficial for athletes.
To say a little about my credentials as an athlete, I’m really a nobody. I grew up playing soccer and basketball in the South, and went on to play soccer in college for Brigham Young University. I’ve never made the Olympic team or played with a legitimate professional team. With that said, you may discount my thoughts accordingly. I like to think of myself as an athlete, even if I’m really not, and that has to count for something, right?
Building Strength and Balance Beyond “Traditional” Yoga
I think there are a few reasons that yoga is generally beneficial for athletes, among them: core strength and balance improvement, increased flexibility training and a general practice of addressing mental challenges at the same time physical obstacles are identified and addressed. Here’s the thing that always seemed to disappoint me though, most yoga practices are so static and rigid. In my humble opinion, athletes want training that is dynamic and varied.
There is a notion among athletes about how some players in sport can do things because the movement just comes to them in a moment of creativity that can’t be anticipated by their opponents, and ultimately leads to something beautiful, powerful, majestic, dominant, you get the point. If you’re an athlete with the same mindset as me, traditional yoga is less interesting (even with the prospect of physical benefits) because it’s seen as boring and stale. Lest I offend the yoga powers that be, I should say that it’s perfectly possible for reasonable minds to disagree.
Dynamic Movement Builds True Power
Now, here’s why I think Scholé is so beneficial AND alluring to athletes. First, it’s dynamic. When I say dynamic I mean that the practice positions are more fluid; Scholé Yoga teachers are very consistent in identifying that the practice positions in any practice sequence are not so focused on absolute alignment with a photograph pose, but that the aim is to push ourselves to find improvement from our former self in movement, be it 5 minutes ago, yesterday or some other time.
From both a physical and psychological perspective, I think a dynamic practice is more attractive and relevant for athletes. The timing of posture holds is also typically aligned with individual breath of the participant rather than long, static poses of traditional yoga. It may very well be, and this has been my experience, that such dynamic motion is something that athletes can easily identify with on a personal level since so many athletes are pushing to be ever-dynamic in competition.
Face and Conquer a Variety of Obstacles
The next reason, for me, to explain why Scholé Yoga fits me and athletes generally, is that the practice itself is dynamic and ever-changing. Some traditional yoga practices have the same sequence of positions to be practiced over and over and over and over….you get the picture. Other yoga instructors might put a class together and use that class three times that week. I have, honestly, never been in a Scholé class where the sequence of positions (and music, but I’ll get to that later) has ever been the same as a prior class. As athletes, I think we appreciate variety in the obstacles to growth we may face and we enjoy variety so that our work-outs don’t get stale or cause us to plateau in our growth. Personally, I love that every class I go to is different and fresh.
The Big Secret of Scholé Yoga for Athletes
Now here is the kicker, I love the dynamic movement and the fresh sequencing of Scholé, but the most impactful thing for me, and the thing I think pulls everything together to be even better than any of the three separately, is the ambience of a Scholé class. Let me explain.
Each Scholé class combines the dynamic movements and positions sequencing with hand-picked music, accompanying lighting hues and a heated room to create a unique experience for the practitioner. Every time I used to suit up for a game in college I would put my headphones on and start to find my jam, that place athletes go to get their minds in place where they can block everything out and turn on the part of themselves that performs. This is a special place.
I know plenty of athletes that use sports psychologists to visualize and practice getting into that place. And Scholé does that. The unique environment of each class creates an engrossing experience that is really hard to achieve, and I think the combination of environment and Scholé Yoga instruction help to create a physical and mentally dynamic meditative state just like the one I was trying to achieve each time I went to put my ‘game face’ on.
In that place of meditation and physical dynamism, we can push up to and beyond where we thought the edge of limitation exists for us. That’s the place where we outdo ourselves over and over again. I’m no sports psychologist, I’m not even really anything to shake a stick at on the IQ chart, but I think Scholé Yoga provides a lot of the same benefits of the visualization and psychologist’s methods with the added component of incorporating dynamic physical movement. That’s the ‘it’ formula.
As I said before, reasonable minds can disagree. I guess that assumes I am reasonable, so maybe that blows up everything I just said. I just know that my experience has been amazing on more levels than just the physical. Maybe Scholé is not for everyone, but it’s definitely made a believer out of me, and I think other athletes will see similar benefits.