There’s a peaceful revolution quietly spreading through West Bromwich Albion’s training ground this season.
More and more players are starting their working days trying to balance their yin and yang on the yoga mat with Tamworth teacher Lee Canterbury-Evans.
Last season, 47-year-old Lee would only get three of four players to each of his sessions – held every Tuesday and Thursday before training.
But word is spreading, the classes are growing, and a lot of the new faces are Albion’s summer signings. It’s always been a voluntary session, but there’s one player in particular who is there week in, week out.
“Craig Dawson has been doing it for about five years,” revealed Lee. “You can tell because he’s never had a strain, or a hamstring problem. It’s a preventative tool and because he got on top of it, it’s spread through the dressing room.”
Lee tailors the hour-long sessions to the demands of professional footballers, but he stays true to the core yoga belief in balance. He runs a yang session on Tuesday, followed by a yin session on Thursday.
“On Tuesday we do a bit of a flowy, energetic routine to get everyone loosened up after the weekend,” he revealed. “They have a warm down on Monday and they’re back in training on Tuesday, so we try to get them more flexible and mobile. Obviously the yoga concentrates on balance and focus.
We try and stay focused on breathing, the mind and the body. We do sometimes turn the practice into meditation. On Thursday we do the yin yoga. We stay in poses a little bit longer, stretch out the connective tissues, the ligaments and the cartilage.
It’s a much more mellow and slower class, but if you can stay in position for three minutes, you can get those muscles into a deep relax.
It just kind of calms everything down before the weekend because you don’t want to go hell for leather before the game.”