My athletic experience was more of an upbringing than a background. My mother competed in Volleyball at the olympic level. She is a four time All American. She was a successful athlete of the University of Houston in the late 70’s and went on to compete Internationally with the United States Volleyball team. She became pregnant while competing and continued to play until she was 8 months pregnant with me. Needless to say, I was literally raised on the court.
From the moment I could walk, I had a volleyball in my hand. Playing volleyball was a natural behavior for me, like eating or sleeping. By the time I was four, I expressed interest in Softball. My mother quickly enrolled me at the local softball club where I continued to play until I was 18.
Throughout my high school career I played varsity and club level Softball and Basketball; Varsity Volleyball, Soccer and even Swimming. After a shoulder injury my junior year, my playing time significantly decreased. The DI coaches that were watching me, quickly turned to DIII interest. I decided not to pursue sports at that time.
I attended Texas A&M University where I continued to dabble in my love for sports. I played intramural sports and competed with the club level athletes through pick up games. I also chose to major in Sport Management. Sport Management is a bachelor of science in Kinesiology with an emphasis on Business. Areas of study included Anatomy, Physiology, Statistics, Finance and pretty much all the physical education classes offered at A&M. I was in heaven.
It was here that I thrived and I began to realize the importance of the “after life” for athletes. While I was introduced to yoga at an early age, I didn’t start to practice routinely until my college years. I used it as a way to stretch and move without pain. I really enjoyed it but didn’t fully understand it’s purpose. My competitive mind could not grasp the idea of a self practice that involved being still and moving inward. Still, I could feel the physical benefits so I continued to practice.
After graduation, I was kind of lost with what to do with my body. Where were all the team sports for adults? How can I exert my energy and be competitive in the real world? I wasn’t sure. While swimming at a neighborhood park, I noticed a group of fitness enthusiasts who appeared to be doing athletic training type exercises. I approached them to see what they were doing and they told me, “CrossFit”. I signed up that day.
For me, CrossFit was the exact same training I had done for years while playing team sports. They were all natural movements for me. I loved to lift heavy weight, compete and sweat. It was right up my alley. I continued to participate in CrossFit for the next seven years. I also increased my time at the yoga studio during this period. I dove into Bikram’s hot yoga. I loved the sweat. I loved how it made my back feel. I loved how flexible I felt and how my knee pain subsided. I was hooked on the physical benefits.
Over the years, I suffered from multiple minor injuries ranging from my shoulder, to my wrist, to my back, to my knees and even my ankle. I saw several Orthopedic surgeon’s about my ailments. I was told that I shouldn’t be working out all. Maybe some yoga, walking or swimming. Nothing else. My mind went blank. Nonetheless, I listened to the doctor because honestly, I was in so much pain, I physically could not do much else.
It was at this point I solely began to practice yoga. Admittedly, only for the physical reasons. Over the years, my pain decreased. I could move with ease. Physically, I felt great! Mentally, I also noticed changes. BIG changes. My hot head cooled off. My anxious mind was growing more calm. My competitive nature subsided. Without intention, I was forced to look inward while on the mat. I finally started to discover myself and what mattered most in life.
Not only did my body feel physically renewed, I had a new outlook on life. I no longer felt lost in the real world as a “retired athlete”. I served a purpose other than to play. I found physical healing, confidence and clarity. I had an awakening, really.
My love for sports slowly grew in to a love for yoga. At first, I was frustrated. Why did my coaches not mandate a yoga practice growing up? If I had practice yoga more, maybe I wouldn’t have suffered so many injuries. If I had a solid yoga practice, I wouldn’t have been so lost in the “real world”. Yoga could have provided so much at such an earlier stage in my life.
It is because of this that I have a passion to bring yoga to the athletic community. I want young athletes to find themselves on the mat at an early age. I want them to know the intimacy of yoga, beyond the physical practice. The mat, for me, was a safety net. I want all future athletes and young adults to have this “net” earlier than I did in life. I want to share what I know to help prevent injury, frustration and distraction.
Not only will yoga provide physical and mental relief, it s a great platform for growth. Yoga can increase lung capacity, body awareness, balance and much more. All of which, can be translated to the court. It is my intention to bring yoga to the athletic community in a powerful, yet un-intimidating way.