Posted on June 19 2014
Have you watched the US Open final on Monday night? If not, you really missed on something because it was awesome.
Five sets in which the players battled like crazy on every single point.
In the end Andy Murray of Scotland overcame defending champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia in five sets which lasted over four hours and three quarters.
This is the first Grand Slam title the Scottish player has won in his career; but as many journalists have reported this is partially due because he has had the misfortune to be playing in the same era as three of the greatest players who ever played on a tennis court: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
However, in the last few months Murray seemed to be at the top of his game; reaching the final at Wimbledon, winning the Olympic gold few weeks after that and now triumphing in New York.
During the US Open final Andy’s athletic abilities were quite evident. At 6’2 (1.90 cm), Andy is incredibly agile and light on his feet, running after every ball, and looking like he never runs out of breath.
And his physical prowess is not fortuitous as Andy’s remarkable transformation from spotty, stroppy teenager to toned, muscle-bound athlete is due to a very strict training regime that, hear this, includes also Bikram Yoga.
As his career has developed, Murray says he has learned that, whatever your discipline, much of what you do in competitive sport is actually built on long hours training. “Earlier in my career I used to spend a lot of time practicing my tennis on court,” he told to Men’s Health UK in an interview. “Now I’ve learned that it’s better to do just a couple of hours on court and two gym sessions a day. That’s what’s made me fitter and stronger.”
Whatever your game, there’s a point at which your physical conditioning becomes more important than the ritual of practice.
And apparently including Bikram yoga in his training has played an crucial part in his physical metamorphosis
“You can’t talk about how hard it is until you do it. I did some tough fitness work in the off-season and that’s one of the hardest things to do. With no windows, and with 20 other people in there, and just trying to hold postures and stay balanced and concentrated the whole time, it’s really tough.” Andy’s reported in an interview to UK’s BBC sport.
He started practicing back in 2007 (almost 5 years ago), on the suggestion of his fitness coaches as a way to improve his flexibility. Since the very start Andy has been an enthusiast of the practice and in particular about the improvements on his body he noticed. “It’s helped a lot with my fitness and mental strength.” he said.
The tennis star admitted that Bikram Yoga has helped him beat players like Roger Federer because it made him mentally stronger.
Tennis players can suffer repetitive strain injuries to the wrist, elbows and knees. On top of that they tend to have imbalanced bodies with a dominant (and much more developed) left side or right side.
That’s where Bikram yoga helps by stretching and strengthening the muscles, and thus reducing the chances of injuries.
But that’s not it, Bikram yoga also helps control the breath, improve focus and calm the mind.
That could also be of some use to Murray, who has complained about getting angry and frustrated on court.
Andy has become such a Bikram yoga’s enthusiast that there are several pictures of him rocking a yoga posture while on the tennis court. What about him doing half-moon pose?
According to BBC Sport’s website, the Lawn Tennis Association (the national governing body of tennis in Great Britain) has been so impressed by the effects of Bikram that it is sending many up-and-coming players to attend classes too. LTA osteopath Sophie Scott told the BBC: “Bikram yoga has been extremely beneficial to our players. It provides a warm environment to engage in a routine of exercises that help flexibility, mobility, control and coordination – all key elements for a tennis player.”
As I said many times before, yoga is no longer just for hippies and houses for relaxation, elite athletes are crowing the studios around the world as the benefits are just too evident to be overlooked. Triathletes, runners, boxers, rugby players and so on are getting into the hot room to mend the damages done to their bodies and to improve their overall performance and well-being.
If the newly crowned US Open champion does it, why shouldn’t you give it a try as well? You might not become a professional tennis player but I’m pretty sure you’ll get some health benefits from it.
If you live in London you might want to go to take a class at the Hot Bikram Yoga studio where apparently Andy Murray practices, and even if you don’t spot him, no biggies because you’re doing something great for yourself.
Article courtesy of The Iron You