Andrew Bailey, Barry Zito Among Major League Baseball Players Who Practice Yoga

Andrew BaileyWhile activities such as ballet dancing have long been known to cultivate key skills in football, for instance, yoga is really only now gaining acceptance in major sports — especially in Major League Baseball.

The connection between yoga and baseball is substantial. Baseball takes many of the skills — balance, strength, muscle control — that are harbored in yoga, and use of the stretches for athletes in baseball is even big enough to support an industry, according to MLB.com. Matt Repplinger works as a baseball yoga consultant in Denver, Colo., who notes that over the last 10 years yoga has become far more prevalent in baseball.

“There’s always been the chew-spit mentality in baseball, and I suppose that will always be there,” said Repplinger. “Baseball people can be set in their ways. But it’s growing, and it’s gotten to the point where guys aren’t ashamed to admit that they’re doing it.”

It probably isn’t much of a surprise that new-age aficionado Barry Zito practices yoga. But Alex Rodriguez and Red Sox power pitcher Andrew Bailey? That may be a little more difficult to accept. Gwen Lawrence is one New York-based instructor who’s worked with the Yankees, and Alan Jaeger has worked with Zito, Bailey, Joel Zumaya and Mike Liebrethal, among others.

“You enter a lot more of that calm, relaxed, quiet presence and state,” said Jaeger. “A lot of it is about slowing down and deepening poses, and getting into your breath and calm perseverance. It’s a quiet discipline.”

And in a twist, the last time Lawrence worked with Rodriguez was during the Yankees’ 2009 championship run — a fact that isn’t lost on the instructor.

“The last time I worked with him was the last time he won,” said Lawrence.

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