Yoga for Baseball — yogaforbaseball.com
For more than a decade, Dana Santas has been creating customized Radius Yoga for baseball programs for teams in MLB, including the New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves and Toronto Blue Jays. She began working with the Tampa Bay Rays in 2007 and the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009; she also currently serves as yoga trainer for the Philadelphia Phillies, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays and Toronto Blue Jays. Additionally, she’s worked with players and coaches from more than a dozen other MLB teams, including the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Arizona Diamondbacks, Washington Nationals, Colorado Rockies, Florida Marlins, Seattle Mariners and Milwaukee Brewers–as well as with the CAA Baseball agency, working with their MLB and MiLB clients in the off season. She’s also served as an expert speaker at the MLB Strength Coaches’ Winter Meetings. She was the Radius Yoga for baseball trainer for the former Denton Outlaws Texas Collegiate League. Her yoga for baseball work has been featured on MLB.com, CBS Sportsline and Fox Sports and in Men’s Journal magazine.
To learn more about Dana’s sought-after approach to applying yoga-based techniques into sports training, read her article, “Yoga for Athletes: Why Activation and Inhibition Matter More Than Stretching.”
Radius Yoga Conditioning (RYC) customized Radius Yoga for baseball programs are available to players and teams at all levels, including professional, collegiate, amateur, and youth. In addition to onsite training, RYC yoga for baseball programs can be made accessible to all serious athletes–despite travel challenges–using numerous formats, including Skype/Facetime sessions, as well as customized videos, audio files and manuals accessed via the Private Client Portal. Refer to the Yoga for Sports Programs and Private Training pages for more information on specific program options, including in-service training for coaching staff to integrate yoga conditioning into their programs.
Looking at the DL, you’ll inevitably find hamstring pulls, shoulder issues and core strains (lower back and abdominal/oblique muscles)—injuries generally related to overuse, dysfunctional movement patterns/imbalances, lack of stable mobility and improper breathing mechanics/diaphragm action affecting ribcage position (which weakens both the core and the shoulder girdle) . RYC yoga for baseball programs are inspired by Dana’s in-depth Postural Restoration Institute training and work to restore the kinetic chain, employ proper breathing biomechanics/ribcage position and address baseball players’ imbalances in functional strength and mobility to increase stable movement in all directions (triplanar movement) and decrease injury. Techniques are also used to enhance range of motion in the joints while promoting stability, particularly for movements across the transverse plane, to improve batting, fielding, and throwing. For pitchers, special attention is paid to mobilizing the hip joints, improving pelvic function and stabilizing the shoulder girdles for decreased injury incidence and better performance.
Batting, throwing, running, sliding, pitching, fielding, catching…in baseball, there are many moves that involve virtually the entire body while keeping an emphasis on one side or the other. Players tend to bat predominantly on one side. They tend to throw from one arm and lunge more on one side. This can feed into side-dominant compensation patterns, increasing instability and injury risk by creating some significant imbalances in strength and mobility. Depending on a player’s position and side dominance, he/she may experience more risk of injury than others.
Pitchers, in particular, have to pay close attention to their joint function. They need to maintain a strong, stable shoulder girdle and t-spine mobility to support full range of motion and power through the shoulder joint while also working to develop integrated core strength/low-back stability, hip mobility and functional/stable pelvic movement. In addition to a strong core, proper posterior chain function and knee & ankle stability are essential as stabilizing factors for setting the stance during the wind up and absorbing the energy transfer during follow through. Short stops must be powerful, agile and mobile throughout the body to make rapid plays in a number of directions. Power hitters need strong cores, stable low backs, mobile t-spines, and functional pelvises/hips that allow weight transfer from one side to the other. And catchers deal with a whole host of issues associated with sitting in their knee and hip joints; to counter this they must have strong, well-conditioned legs trained to support the joints as well as exceptional core strength, hip mobility and pelvic function/stability to avoid hip flexor issues, lower back strains and compensation stress on the knees and low back.
Yogi Berra once said, “Baseball is 90% mental…the other half is physical.” With intense games going on for hours in stadiums filled with thousands of passionate fans, there’s no denying the importance of the mental aspect of baseball. It’s about being able to focus for long periods of time, block out the crowds, stay present in the moment—in your own body & mind, and not stress a missed play from three innings ago or the fact that this is the make-or-break game of your season. RYC yoga for baseball programs train players to use science-based breathing and posturing techniques to create a physiological response to increase testosterone (confidence hormone) and decrease cortisol (stress hormone) for a profoundly powerful connection between the mind and body. Leveraging effective breathing techniques, players are better equipped to employ that mind-body connection during games and avoid the performance-killing effects of mental stress. RYC’s specialized breathing, visualization and meditative techniques, are offered as part of “Eye of the Hurricane Training™.”
Additionally, Dana’s proprietary “Eye of the Hurricane” mental focusing/yoga nidra techniques have been adapted for use to facilitate sleep (which is often an issue for athletes with demanding game and grueling travel schedules) as well as integrated into concussion rehab programs.
To learn about yoga for youth baseball, visit the Yoga for Youth Sports page.