How Yoga has been beneficial to me | JOHN WARD


John Ward






Student - Undertaking a degree in Archaeology at University of Leicester.  Work for the University Sports & Recreation department.

Sporting History:

Played Football for Doncaster Juniors, Scunthorpe Reserves, and Crowley United in the Lincolnshire League.

 Played American Football for Scunthorpe Steelers in the Budweiser National League.

Placed 2nd in the Harrogate & District Council indoor rowing competition.

Rowed for 6 hours on a Concept II rowing machine, achieving 78,437m, to raise money for Red Nose Day.


Sporting Qualifications:            

F.A. Preliminary Coaching Award, A.S.A Full Swimming Teacher Award, N.A.B.B.A Senior Fitness Instructors Award


Injuries sustained through sport:              

Achilles heal problems, Torn hamstring on both legs, Ruptured disc in lower back, Torn shoulder muscle


Present weekly exercise routine:         

Sunday           Yoga Exercises

Monday          Gym

Wednesday     Gym

Thursday        Yoga Exercises

Friday             Gym


Gym work consists of a two day split routine as shown below. Working 3 sets of 10 repetitions on the weight stations, and 30 - 40 minutes cardiovascular work using heart rate monitors to make sure I always train within my own personal training zone


Day 1 =  Chest/Back & Arm routine + 30-40 min CV work.


Day 2 =  Legs & Shoulder routine + 30-40 min CV work


How Yoga has benefited me:


As a youth there was not a day that went by where I was not playing, or training for sport.   My obsession and passion was the game of football, and I could not see myself doing anything other than playing the game as a profession, therefore I sought advice from several footballing coaches, regarding what I needed to do to make my ambitions a reality, and the basic response I received was that the harder I trained the better I would become.


With this newly found knowledge my enthusiasm was boundless and I took these wise men to their word, I trained harder than I had ever done in my life, sometimes training two to three times per day.  But nobody had advised me on diet, a carefully prepared exercise routine, or preparation for exercise, i.e. Warm up, stretching, and warm down.   It was all push, push and more push, the no pain no gain scenario, and I eventually found myself at the age of eighteen not only totally burnt out but carrying several nagging injuries that would continue to painfully and frustratingly plague me through the next twenty two years of my life.


Although since I have taken a number of sports coaching qualifications in which the benefits of stretching to prevent injury have been highlighted, and as a qualified fitness instructor I am constantly advising members to properly prepare themselves before attempting exercise, I must admit that in the past I have not personally practiced what I have learnt or preached.  Therefore this culminated in November 2001 with all of my past injuries resurfacing, where the pain involved was such that I had to completely stop all forms of exercise.


Merely stopping though did not improve the situation as the pain persisted and over the next two months even walking and sleeping became painful.    Luckily for me though the combination of observing a yoga class on television and the advice of a fellow college encouraged me to consider attempting this form of exercise, but before I did I wanted to know more about what it entailed, so borrowing a video tape of one of Anne Marie's yoga classes I decided to have a go.  


In no way do I want this to sound like a cheesy advertisement, but after undertaking the first session the results were amazing, not only did I feel relief from the pain in my shoulder, lower back and hamstrings, but I also had a feeling of being re-energized which lasted for a couple of days, then I stared to feel the pain creep back again.  Therefore I decided that for the next couple of month I would follow Anne Marie's advice on the tape and perform the exercises three times per week religiously, Sunday, Wednesday and Friday.


At first I found my flexibility limited my ability, but as advised I concentrated on my own capability and limits, not trying to achieve too much to soon.   While performing the exercises I found that it created a lot of heat within my muscles, which made me sweat profusely, but although the exercises are demanding in now way are they strenuous or painful.  At the end of each session, what with the combination of the breathing technique shown and the warmth of the body, it left me felling as if I had just been attending a meditation class not an exercise class, as not only my body was in a state of relaxation by also my mind as well.


Although, due to the demands of life, I could not attend an actual Yoga class I continued to do the Yoga exercises at home for the next three months.  The result of this being: -



            a)         No more pain in joints or muscles


            b)         I feel that I have more energy


            c)         Although I do not play sport anymore I have resumed the training programme mention in my profile.


d)             I am sleeping a lot better


e)         Greater flexibly & overall body strength



I feel that I can get on with my life now without interferance from the conditions mentioned which were causing me to feel depressed and dejected.   But it has occurred to me that if I had understood the benefits of Yoga at an earlier age then I would not have had to suffered for as long as I did, plus at present the Yoga exercises seem to be enhancing my workouts in the gym and I am noticing that I am making gains quicker than I have ever achieved before.    This leads me to believe that if I had combined Yoga with my football at an earlier age then I would probably have played a lot longer than I did, having retired through injury, and it would have help enhanced my fitness levels to the extent where I could concentrate on improving my skills rather than worrying whether I would last the game or training session through injury.


For any young sportsperson I would recommend that you incorporate Yoga as part of your training programme.   You may feel that you are invincible and recover well, but constant abuse, neglect and age will result in a similar situation to that which I have incurred.


For the older sportsperson with old sports injuries, there is no reason for you to continue to live in pain as I did, just have a go at one Yoga class and the benefits will speak for themselves.