CEDAR RAPIDS — Many athletes strive to get stronger in order to improve their game.
The Xavier boys’ and girls’ soccer athletes have been given a unique opportunity to be stronger and more flexible thanks to Lisa Hanigan, who teaches yoga to players once a week.
“I believe it helps athletes to not only strengthen their muscles but also to keep them longer,” Hanigan said. “You want your muscles to be long and strong so that you can stay flexible and that means you are less prone to injury.”
Incorporating yoga into the soccer season has provided the girls with relaxation.
“I like yoga because it is a great time to let all of our stress out,” junior Caitlynn Daniels said. “It is especially nice to have after a tough game because it gives me time to stretch out and take it easy for a day.
“It is also fun to hang out with my teammates and sometimes it can be pretty entertaining.”
In addition to instructing yoga at Xavier, Hanigan also has worked with many other sports teams, including high school football and volleyball and collegiate soccer.
“Yoga can help athletes calm their nerves by focusing and staying in the moment instead of in their heads,” Hanigan said. “I always start a yoga class with a centering where we do a little breath work. The breath is a very powerful tool to help someone calm themselves and be in the present.”
Hanigan has been a yoga instructor for 12 years and has been taking classes for 15.
“I never intended to teach yoga when I started taking classes, but I knew that I really liked how I felt after taking a class,” Hanigan said. “I have always been a very active person and I love to run and to bike, and so I thought that yoga would be very easy for me. I could not have been more wrong about that, because I found it to be very challenging and I still do.”
Hanigan teaches classes at Fusion Studio, Helen G. Nassif Cancer Care Center and at her own home.
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“My favorite thing about yoga is that I feel stronger both physically and spiritually than I have ever felt before, and that is a great feeling,” Hanigan said. “I really feel passionate about sharing what I have learned with everyone that would like to learn more.”
The team believes yoga is beneficial to their soccer skills.
“Yoga helps with soccer because I am getting a deep stretch which loosens my muscles,” senior Sara Kram said “I am never sore for the next game or practice.
“It can be painful at times, but it is very beneficial in the end.”
The Xavier girls play at City High on Thursday, starting at 4:15 p.m.