Imua 'Iolani

563 Kamoku Street

Honolulu, Hawai'i

Yoga For Athletes

December 14, 2018

     Yoga is an ancient Indian physical, mental and spiritual therapy and discipline, which has been acknowledged as a positive solution for stress among busy students and workers. Yoga began as a spiritual practice in India around 3000 B.C. Various stone-carved figures of yoga postures found in Indus Valley tells us about the daily practices that the Indian people did. Yoga was developed as a way to help people achieve harmony between their heart and soul, and as a religious practice in order for divine enlightenment. Initially as a spiritual practice, yoga also has many health benefits, such as curing diseases like diabetes and physical injuries. American Osteopathic Association suggests that yoga helps to increase flexibility, energy and vitality, reduces weight, improves athletic performance and protects from injury.

     At ‘Iolani, over 70 percent of the students participate in athletic teams. For these student athletes, who practice every day in the hope of a Raiders’ victory, physical and mental stresses are common. In addition to their school work, they have the added responsibility as a team member. In response to this, the ‘Iolani Athletic Department has implemented a healthy solution: a new yoga program.

     Launched a few years ago, the daily yoga class, taught by certified yoga practitioner Ms. Karen Tyrer, has attracted many athletes due to the Athletic Department faculty’s encouragement for their students to attend the classes. Athletes from various sports who understand yoga’s indisputable benefits attend classes to help relieve academic stress and to prepare for their practices.

     “Yoga contributes to the well-being of the athletes, increases stability and helps us have more control in the water,” said ‘Iolani swimmers, Caroline Edelheit ’19 and Alexis Bergani ’21. Bergani shared that her favorite pose is “savasana,” which is a pose in which practitioners lie flat on their backs straight on yoga mat. She insisted that “savasana,” with a smell of lavender, makes her forget about the stresses of school before going in the water.

     However, these students’ yoga experience would not have been possible were it not for Ms. Tyrer. Since June 2015, Tyrer has taught Lower and Upper School students, but now mainly teaches Upper School athletes about conditioning. She helps those athletes with stretching and correcting their postures, and stresses the importance of a daily breathing. With 15 years of experience as a yoga practitioner, she also strives to maintain an enjoyable class environment by creating various activities, such as playing yoga games in Lower School with fun and loud music while having the youngsters participate in partner poses. She believes that these activities create an open, respectful and happy environment so that whenever the students are together for a lesson, they do not feel emotionally depressed, but instead think of how they can use yoga as a management technique for anxiety and stress.

     “I think finding a sweet spot is important. My role as a yoga practitioner is to help the students find a balance between pushing themselves and relaxing. Living in the present moment, instead of being concerned about the uncertain future is what practicing yoga is about,” said Ms. Tyrer.

     Ms. Tyrer adds that the inspiration that she receives from the students makes her a better teacher. She expects more students, including the non-athletes, to join the joyful yoga class, and continues to spread her characteristic enthusiasm about the benefits of yoga to all ‘Iolani students.


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