Is Bikram yoga your key to peak physical performance? Tennis superstar Andy Murray seems to think so, and his advice is extra-meaningful in the wake of a historic championship. Murray won the 2013 Wimbledon men’s singles trophy this past weekend in London. It was the 26-year-old’s second Grand Slam title, but this was much more than a personal triumph – the UK had been waiting 77 years to see a British man win the country’s most important tennis tournament. It took a lot of poise, focus and stamina for Murray to succeed, and the source of that strength might be his background in Bikram yoga. Is there a lesson here for organic living advocates looking for athletic training tips?
What is Bikram Yoga?
A synthesis of traditional yoga techniques, Bikram yoga hit the scene in the early 1970s. The style revolves around 26 specific postures and two breathing exercises that are practiced for 90 minutes in a hot, humid room. A temperature of 105° F is said to replicate the climate in India, leading to ideal conditions for practicing yoga. This is the original “hot yoga” – if that phrase has ever piqued your interest, you might want to go back to the source. Andy Murray swears by it.
How Has Bikram Yoga Helped Wimbledon’s Newest Champ?
Murray embraced Bikram on the advice of his conditioning coach in order to increase his physical and mental toughness, and he’s been a Bikram practitioner for about six years now. Olga Allon, the yoga trainer who introduced Murray to Bikram, claims that the demanding routine helps maximize balance and flexibility. The technique’s stretches can also rejuvenate muscles. Maintaining difficult poses in a heated room for more than an hour takes mental stamina – Allon says this increases Murray’s ability to focus. She thinks it’s even given the newest Wimbledon champ the self-awareness necessary to control a notoriously bad temper.
Of course, we can’t ascribe all of Andy Murray’s success to Bikram. He’s an incredibly gifted athlete who has mastered just about every facet of tennis. His double-handed backhand is legendary, he can put some serious heat on his first serve while still maintaining accuracy, and he’ll turn a defensive position into an offensive asset instantaneously. These strengths are all working together in harmony right now, and Murray is taking full advantage.
The Scottish native, who survived the most horrific school shooting in the history of the UK when he was only eight years old, has given British fans (and tennis lovers all around the world) lots to cheer about in only a few short years. Murray’s 2012 U.S. Open victory might now appear as only a warm-up to his historic Wimbledon homecoming, but that’s only because Wimbledon is the biggest tournament in all of tennis. Just remember that the 2012 win was the first Grand Slam victory by a British man since 1936, and the first by a Scot since 1896. Murray also won Olympic gold at the 2012 London Olympics, making him the first British man to do so in 104 years. Right now, he’s the number-two ranked men’s tennis player in the world.
Are There Other “Secret Weapons” in the Tennis World?
Is Andy Murray’s Bikram yoga approach the only way to gain a competitive edge in the world of tennis? Not by a long shot. Organic living experts have found several chemical-free methods for pushing the human body to its limits. In fact, the man that Murray beat at Wimbledon, Novak Djokovic, relies on his own special routine to optimize muscle recovery: an egg-shaped pressure pod. Tennis coach (and former pro) Jeff Salzenstein emphasizes chiropractic care as a tool for boosting performance. And Robyn Openshaw, an author and competitive tennis player, thinks her green-smoothie regimen gives her the energy she needs to stay on the court for hours at a time.
Whatever your method, it’s important to find an exercise routine that fits you naturally. Andy Murray’s secret routine might not be your best bet. Bikram yoga seems like a good choice for those of us who practice organic living, but your options are truly limitless. When you do find the right plan, also remember not to push yourself too hard – yoga expert Zain Saraswati Jamal notes the dangers of overtraining and emphasizes that rest is an essential component of any exercise plan.
Does Bikram yoga sound like your kind of program? Find a certified teacher near you and have at it. If you’re looking for one of those wacky space-egg pressure chambers, you’ll probably want to start looking for either a futuristic doctor or a 1980s B movie set. For some fantastic beverage tips, though, simply stay tuned: next week we’ll be giving you advice on how to make a healthy smoothie.