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(Hot) Yoga Becoming A Player's Best Friend

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The Redskins already adopted some new strength and conditioning techniques when they hired martial arts Master Joe Kim this offseason to help with arm and hand quickness, among his training's many other benefits.

The Washington Redskins conducted their tenth day of training camp walkthrough practice Monday, August 10, 2015, at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.

Though tapping into a spiritual side, or at least a side that provides more meditative relaxation and recovery, has been left up to individual players and coaches. Several of them have chosen hot yoga for this release, a growing trend in professional sports.

"It helped my knees heal pretty well," defensive end Jason Hatcher said Monday after morning walkthroughs. "I do it to get a lot of range of motion back in my knees from the previous surgery I had. But off the field right now I definitely need a few sessions of yoga to get my body back right."

The same kinds of benefits are what got linebacker Ryan Kerrigan hooked on hot yoga, too.

"I think that's going to provide a lot of benefits in the long term," Kerrigan said back in February. "The first couple times was incredibly tough [regarding the heat]. I had to leave the room one time it was too much because you're in the room for 90 minutes, 114 degrees in there. It's incredibly hot but like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it.

"I've just got to keep doing it," he said. "You get a lot of benefits out of it. It's good for your internal organs, joints everything. I'd recommend it to anyone."

Head coach Jay Gruden knows about the recommendation, and knows some of his players have used it to recover from injuries and rediscover their range of motion. But for now, Gruden is content to continue dabbling in "regular yoga," as he now has to call it.  

"I've tried yoga a few times. I do like yoga," Gruden said. "There is some merit to it. I'm glad Jason's doing it. I know a couple of them enjoy it. We made it available for our players if they wanted to do it. It's a great chance for them to relax and get some stretching."

A Sports Illustrated article published last year chronicled the rise of yoga within the NBA, highlighting the Los Angeles Clippers' full-time yoga instructor Kent Katich, who has seen the Eastern practice grow tremendously in recent years.

"It's huge—off the charts from when I started," Katich said. "Athletes are much more open to anything that will prolong or help their careers … And trainers and training staff are much more open to the benefits of [yoga] now. And then the fact that someone like Lebron [James] publicly comes out—that makes it a big deal."

The title of that article begins with "Beyond The Downward Dog…"

Gruden isn't quite beyond it just yet, though.

"I like the downward dog," he said. 

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