It seems as though yoga is having somewhat of a moment in the media, with more and more celebrity devotees announcing their dedication. The latest of whom is none other than tennis player Andy Murray.
The world number three has credited his improved performance to his decision to practice yoga in balmy 40°C heat. He says the workout has changed him both mentally and physically, helping him to compete at the highest levels.
Bikram yoga comprises of a 26-posture sequence that takes around 90 minutes to complete and is practiced in extreme heat. Murray has said of the practice, “Until you do it you can’t comment on how difficult it is. It’s tough. It’s ugly.”
Murray started practicing yoga five years ago after his conditioning coach, Matt Little, advised him to give it a go. Since then, other tennis players have followed suit, including Laura Robinson who is the British number two.
Olga Allon (studio director at Hot Bikram Yoga) introduced Murray to the practice and said that yoga has been pivotal for the athlete. She has also said the discipline helped to improve his flexibility and helped to balance his body – both key factors for any athlete.
Bikram yoga was conceived over 30 years ago by the Los Angeles-based Bikram Choudhury and is not without its critics. Many dislike the way Bikram has turned yoga into a money making machine, while others question the benefits of working out in such high temperatures.
Sports therapist Michael Cole is however a fan, stating that the practice probably helps Murray in his recovery as much as anything else.
“Stretching can help to clear waste products from muscles. Heat also adds a psychological element. If as an élite athlete it makes you feel better psychologically, then that’s no bad thing.”
If you want to find out more about yoga and how it can be used as a therapy, please see our dedicated Yoga page.
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