Yoga Bowl: Super Bowl contenders Seahawks stay limber and calm with yoga, meditation

Super Bowl contenders Seahawks stay limber and calm with yoga, meditation

Unless you live under your mat, you’ve probably heard that the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos are headed to Super Bowl XLVIII at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. So what’s contributed to their success?

Forget the legendary Peyton Manning for a second — the Seahawks participate in regular meditation and yoga practice to help make them better overall players, says Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll. Sports psychologist Mike Gervais leads the players through a meditation session — sometimes as short as 6 minutes—to help calm them and visualize success.

Carroll brought meditation into the training program in 2011, and then added yoga in 2013. (Yoga was optional previously, but so many players showed up and enjoyed it that Carroll made it mandatory.) The idea is to create a gentler side of this oft-brutal and injury-rich sport, including ridding the team of habits like yelling and swearing. Quarterback Russell Wilson agrees; he spends two sessions a week with Gervais.

The Broncos are no strangers to yoga, either. Former head coach Josh McDaniels scrapped the team’s regular stretching program in 2009, but that didn’t stop players like Mitch Unrein and Jeff Byers (now on the Carolina Panthers) from participating in hot yoga to become more flexible and help stay injury-free.

This writer is no football expert. But it’s encouraging to see yoga making its way into this traditionally macho, hardcore sport.