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Vale players enjoy their first yoga session

11 July 2019

Namaste Valiants! Yesterday morning several members of the first team joined in their first yoga session as part of a new way to get them started for training in the morning and preparing for match days.

Lead by Karen Darlington, a qualified freelance yoga teacher for 18 months, players such as Scott Brown, Luke Joyce, Ben Whitfield and David Worrall took part in a session which Karen describes as "being comfortable with the uncomfortable", by holding unfamiliar stretches for a lengthy time.

A new experience for many of the players, the session lasts half an hour and takes place shortly after the players have had their breakfast. 

Karen was inspired to go into yoga through her personal training background. After a shoulder injury, Karen needed to do active recovery to keep the shoulder moving and she found yoga, despite being more challenging than physical gym work, was the perfect recovery she needed. Karen's now hoping it can inspire the Port Vale players.

"Like their training you've got to keep doing it, it's all in practice. Yoga is 99% practice, so the more they can do it the more benefits they'll get from it. In their minds mentality, physically, they're going to see lots of different benefits from it.

"Breath always comes first. When we take a big deep breath in, we're clearing the mind. With yoga, it's all about being present on that mat and not thinking about other things.

"If we can spend 30/40 minutes on being very present, not worrying about the past or the future i.e. going over a game that's just happened or worrying about a game that's coming up, that helps them to be calm and collective on the pitch.

"If you can control your thoughts for that period of time on the mat you can control your thoughts whilst you're on the pitch and that will really help."

Manager John Askey was also watching over as the session took place and has openly encouraged other players to take part, as he can see the benefits it can have for the team. 

"We're looking to improve things. It's more injury prevention and for the players lengthening their careers by doing things like that. Ryan Giggs did pilates and yoga and he went on playing to 39/40 years old, so if it's good enough for Giggs hopefully it's good enough for our players.

"It's different but I think the players can see the positives of it. Once they've done it they'll feel better especially as time goes on if they're doing it most days then their bodies will feel better and they won't be as stiff after games. 

"We've left it open at the moment to players who want to do it. Once the gyms up and running we'll be able to get more players in there comfortably. It's all about trying to improve and if everyone keeps trying to do that hopefully it'll show on the football pitch. 

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