MINNEAPOLIS – There’s no doubt that sports can take a toll on the human body. And professional athletes need to be able to recover quickly after a game.

And many are turning to yoga as a way to provide recovery not only to their bodies, but also their minds and souls.

Andrea Atherton, manager of Modo Yoga in Minneapolis, says the temperature of the yoga space draws in practitioners from the cold.

“Once they step into the space, the heat gets them here. The way that they feel when they walk out of these doors really makes them feel refreshed,” Atherton said.

Members of the Vikings have practiced 40 different yoga postures in the 103-degree room, focusing on breathing and flexibility.

“You hold each one for about 20 seconds on each side, and then you move to the next,” she said. “So it really allows, from a beginner’s standpoint, for that person to get into the class and be really familiar with each of the postures without moving too quickly.”

Atherton, a former New England Patriots cheerleader and Timberwolves dancer, discovered this form of yoga after a neck injury.

She says yoga helped her recover and then made her stronger. The same can be said for her husband P.J., a former professional hockey player.

“She kind of got into it, she slowly got me into it and now it’s become a big part of my daily life,” P.J. said.

But for Tyrone McKenzie, this is a part of his daily and professional life.

“It just comes back to getting my mind clear, at the same time while preventing injuries,” McKenzie said.

He was drafted by Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots in 2009, but tore his ACL as a rookie.

Since then, he’s played for the Buccaneers and Vikings, discovering Modo Yoga along the way.

“When I came to yoga, everything came full circle for me,” he said.

McKenzie credits yoga for helping him fully recover from his knee injury. As an NFL free agent, he’s visiting teams weekly and may be close to signing with someone.

He believes his new workout has made that possible.

“You go to work, you work hard, you do your preparation, and then you come here and it’s just like you get a breath of fresh air,” McKenzie said. “I’ll be a yogi for life.”

John Lauritsen

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