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Yoga classes help Oakland High School athletes improve physical and mental health

on September 25, 2013

When Rebecca Adams started teaching yoga and mindfulness at Oakland High School last year, it was as a weekly class for the staff, funded by a Staff Wellness grant from the Oakland Unified School District.

Last spring, however, at the request of head football coach Jayce Goree, Adams started a separate class for his players. Soon she found herself doing Downward Dog and Pigeon Pose alongside linebackers and wide receivers. Starting this fall, the basketball team has jumped on the bandwagon as well.

Yoga offers the athletes of Oakland High both physical and emotional therapy. “Inner-city kids have so many things going on around them,” says head basketball coach Orlando Watkins. Yoga, he adds, helps his players focus better; on athletics, academics or interpersonal relationships.

Adams communicates with players about injuries they may have sustained on the field or the court. She advises and walks players through different stretches and poses to relieve taut muscles and stiff joints. “Yoga’s going to help you be more flexible, more explosive on the field,” says senior Jose Lopez.

The Wellness grant expired at the end of the 2012-2013 school year. Although Coach Goree has offered to pay her out of pocket, Adams is currently working as a volunteer. On October 1, however, she is kicking off a campaign via the fundraising website in order to provide both a stipend for herself and new equipment like mats and cushions.

Both on the field and in the classroom, yoga practice gives the athletes of Oakland High a fresh perspective.  Says Adams, “Yoga is the opportunity to allow them to step into their own wholeness.”

1 Comment

  1. katie toolan on January 18, 2014 at 11:39 am

    This is a great article! I was hoping to start a yoga program for high school football players but it seems its going to take an awful lot of convincing for the coaches….any tips or advice?

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