Former All England champion and now India’s chief national badminton coach, Pullela Gopi Chand, says that lot of aspects of stretching and physical conditioning in a sportsperson’s career have their base in yoga and both are inseparable.
“In fact, many aspects of yoga have been given different Western names in modern day context like relaxation, mental strength and concentration. Even the most talked about sports psychology thrives on the principles of yoga. Only the names are different but the guiding principles of Yoga are clearly imbibed into the training schedule,” says Gopi.
Gopi reveals that he himself practised yoga especially the Suryanamaskars during his playing days and it did help him a lot, more so after the career-threatening knee injury. In fact, Gopi won the All England title after a stunning recovery from that injury.
The national coach insisted that many important aspects of yoga are taught to the trainees though not exactly in the same form in the Gopi Chand Academy, which is the hub of Indian badminton itself now.
Explaining further, the Dronacharya said that many sportspersons including superstars from across the world try to be much better performers by picking up some of the salient features of Yoga like progressive relaxation which is nothing but Yoga Nidra, concentration (Dharana), pilates (balancing on single leg) breathing and focus and visualisation.
“All these are integral aspects of Yoga which in a way make the athletes stay fit – mentally and physically. So, I don’t think sports without yoga is possible,” Gopi emphasised.
Gopi also feels that the essential features of Yoga which are now being implemented in the training schedule do help the athletes to show the desired mental equilibrium and lot more maturity in handling pressure situations too.
Very useful says Olympian Mukesh
Even triple Olympian and renowned right-winger during his hey days Nandnuri Mukesh Kumar says he is surprised with the increasing trend of better results from the young talent who actually practice the key elements of yoga. “I have seen this in badminton especially (his daughter is a sub-junior player now).
“Honestly, when I was playing for India not many took this seriously though Yoga sessions sometimes used to be part of the training sessions. But now there is a realisation that yoga is a must for muscle strengthening as most of the stretching exercises are an extension of Yoga’s guiding principles,” feels Mukesh. “I have personally seen how the principles of yoga have made the young talent now stay more focussed,” he added.
The former India hockey captain says that the beauty of Yoga is that you don’t need any special set-up to train and most of the places which the athletes visit don’t have either. “So, muscle strengthening and breathing, the key elements in any training programme, are directly imported from Yoga and for better results. So, I feel that all coaches should be good in Yoga too,” he added.
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