Yoga for Hockey –

Yoga for Hockey —

Dana working with NHL Goaltender Tim Thomas

The yoga for hockey trainer for the Tampa Bay Lightning since 2011, Dana Santas has experience creating Radius Yoga for hockey programs for numerous other teams and players in the NHL, including the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Philadelphia Flyers and New Jersey Devils. She has worked with NHL Award-Winning All-Star Boston Bruins Goaltender Tim Thomas since the 2006/2007 off season. Her yoga for hockey work and expert advice have been featured on the NHL Network and New England Sports Network as well as in The Hockey News, USA Hockey and Sports Illustrated.

Radius Yoga Conditioning (RYC) customized Radius Yoga for hockey programs are available to players and teams at all levels, including professional, collegiate, amateur, and youth.  In addition to onsite training, RYC yoga for hockey 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.

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.”

Despite being an aggressive sport requiring intense power and the ability to withstand high-velocity collisions, hockey requires more than sheer strength; muscular bulk without flexibility can hinder performance. The long skating strides of hockey players require both stretch and strength of the adductors/internal hip rotators, abductors/external hip rotators and hip flexors and extensors. For that reason, the conditioning goals of hockey players need to focus on creating a delicate balance of maximum strength with lean mass and flexibility and balance to maintain speed and agility. And whether a defenseman or goalie, integrated core strength and functional hip/pelvic mobility is essential to avoid injury.

RYC offers yoga for hockey players that focuses on mobility/flexibility and core stabilization training to enable the exertion of maximum power, avoidance of injury, and enhanced balance. For example, strong quads, hamstrings and glutes are very important, but you can’t leverage the full extent of their power without functional hip/pelvic complex mobility and fully integrated core strength. Too often a weak deep core and anteriorly tilted pelvis, put undue stress on the low back and compromise posterior chain function, exacerbating hamstring and adductor/abductor tension and dysfunctional glute firing.

In addition to customizing yoga conditioning for skating strides, conditioning programs include techniques to increase range of motion, stability and agility through all the joints involved in getting the puck down the ice. In contrast to other position players, goaltenders can focus less on conditioning for powerful skating strides; however, the demands on their bodies are even greater from an overall perspective. RYC yoga for hockey addresses the special requirements of goalies by working with them to create the considerable lateral agility and wide-ranging strength, flexibility, and balance necessary to make quick and intense multi-directional movements.

A famous Wayne Gretzky quote gets to the heart of the mental focus and awareness required to play hockey: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” Playing a high-velocity game with enough mental clarity to anticipate where the puck is going takes a solid connection of mind and body. Beyond building body control and awareness, yoga conditioning trains players to use their breath as a bridge between the mind and body, enhancing reaction time and limiting 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 hockey, visit the Yoga for Youth Sports page.

Here’s a look at Dana’s work with NHL Lightning Forward Pierre-Cedric Labrie:

For fun, check out this “movie trailer” spoof on Dana’s work with some of her Tampa Bay Lightning hockey players: