Yoga, the Secret of Kings' Success

The Times of India

Gaurav Gupta, 2 June 2014

Kings XI Punjab, who played their maiden IPL final on Sunday, were the team to beat this season. While the presence of star players helped, what caught the eye was that the side played with a self-belief, especially against bigger outfits, which was hitherto lacking. That self-belief was instilled due to a 'winning mantra' introduced to them by Mumbai-based yoga teacher, Eknath, before the tournament began.

Eknath imparts teachings of Satyananda Yoga, also known as the 'Bihar School of Yoga'. The Bihar School of Yoga, located in Munger, is the first deemed yoga university in the world. Sportspersons practising yoga, which came into existence thousands of years back, isn't a unique thing. It helps them improve concentration powers and reduce stress.

In India, star golfer, Arjun Atwal, and the national archery team have practised Satyananda Yoga over the years.

"It inspired me to teach the cricketers," Eknath told TOI on Sunday. "The Kings gave me the opportunity to introduce it to their team. I am thankful that coach, Sanjay Bangar, and the players liked the sessions," he said.

The yoga teacher gave the players 'winning mantras', while practising meditation, which they had to recite thrice a day. "I had interest in yoga, but didn't know much about yoga nidra. I didn't know that if you keep a sankalpa, purpose, it never fails. It was beneficial to the players and they should do it regularly," said Bangar.

Elaborating on how yoga helped the players, Eknath said, "Asana and pranayama release mental tensions. They help maintain the body in an optimum condition. It results in releasing dormant energy; the body becomes full of vitality and strength. The mind becomes light, creative, and joyful. There is an increase in the confidence level of the players."

The highlight of the practice was meditation, which helps a player in unleashing his potential, the yoga teacher said, before explaining how meditation helped the players perform better in the high-stress situations that they encounter in the IPL. "It helps the body relax. It is the best tool to cope with lack of sleep. Thirty minutes of yoga nidra is equivalent to three hours of sleep. It reduces oxygen requirements and aids the metabolism. It also enables you to breathe deep and slow instead of fast and shallow."

After the sessions, Eknath received excellent feedback from the players. "Virender Sehwag told me that he loved practising yoga, and would suggest youngsters to do so. He said that he ignored yoga when he came into the Indian team, but, at thirty-five, he had found that it is the most powerful tool to help stay relaxed and improve fitness."