We’re not sure if the movement to make yoga an Olympic sport will ever actually go anywhere, but it turns out yoga already has a place at the London Games.
Plenty of competitors tap its many benefits to improve their athletic performance, stay injury-free, and de-stress.
Here are five female athletes on the US Olympic team that just may have brought their yoga mat with them to London (and will probably need a really long Savasana in a couple of weeks).
Pictured: Hope Solo (Namaste?)
1. Hope Solo
The star goalkeeper of the US women’s soccer team, whose sister is a yoga teacher, told Nike Women that yoga helps her with speed and agility on the field. “A lot of times simple stretching takes away from your speed, so for me dynamic yoga gives me the ability and empowers me to keep my speed and elongate my muscles,” she said. The entire team has also taken group yoga classes together as part of their training.
2. Evelyn (Evie) Stevens
This Olympic cyclist (and New Yorker!) is also on Team Specialized-Lululemon. Stevens starred in a Youtube video called “Cycle faster.Do yoga” for the yoga clothing juggernaut, where she said that she often brings her practice on the road with her. “Fortunately, my teammates are very kind, and they’re okay with me doing my yoga in the corner of the hotel room,” she said. “I love it—it helps mentally, physically, and I think it’s helped my strength.”
According to About.com, Soni, a swimmer who just won a silver in the 100-meter breaststroke (plus one gold and two silver medals at the 2008 games in Beijing), started doing yoga to improve the flexibility in her shoulders and back. Pretty crucial, since she’s a breaststroke specialist. She also uses yoga to recover from intense training sessions, and is sponsored by YogaWorks.
4. Ariana Kukors
This 23-year-old swimmer started doing Bikram while she was still in high school. She told About.com that yoga helps her stay more in tune with her body while in the pool. She’s also done Pilates as part of her training.
5. Rebecca Bross
We wouldn’t want to be next to this gymnast while trying desperately to get into a handstand during yoga class. That’s just unfair. Bross complements her training with hatha yoga classes, which she sometimes tweets about.