Improve your squash with yoga

July 01 2018

A host of squash professionals including James Willstrop are turning to yoga to improve their game. It’s not a new phenomenon to cross train one discipline with another, & stretching has always been important to those in racket sports, from amateurs up to ranking professionals. Yoga, however, brings more to the table than solely the physical benefits of strength & supple joints/muscles; it also has the mental benefits of a clear, focused & uncluttered mind.

Mostly when hearing about yoga in the UK, you will hear the term Hatha Yoga, which simply means the physical practice of yoga (the poses, as opposed to say, chanting or meditation).  Some of the most common forms of yoga practiced in the UK include:

Iyengar yoga:
The benefit of Iyengar yoga is it promotes alignment, & helps participants develop a feeling of good posture & a strong core in order to protect against dealignment of the body. Props including, belts & blocks, are often used in Iyengar yoga.

Ashtanga yoga:
Ashtanga yoga is one of the most active styles of yoga. Participants are directed to focus on synchronizing their breath & movement (vinyasa) in order to create focus & concentration. This style uses a set series of poses, usually held for five breaths.

Vinyasa flow:
Vinyasa flow changes from one pose to the next with minimal stopping for each pose. Vinyasa is a continuous & constant work-out. The practise is also called flow yoga, flow-style yoga & dynamic yoga. It helps to be familiar with the different poses before taking up vinyasa flow.

Bikram yoga:
Bikram yoga was created by Indian yogi Bikram Choudhury in the early 1970s; he designed a sequence of 26 yoga poses to stretch & strengthen the muscles. The poses are done in a heated room to facilitate the release of toxins, loosen muscles & aid stretching.

In addition to improving general overall strength, promoting strong core muscles & decreasing chances of injury the practice can have a strong beneficial mental impact too, clearing the mind of everyday chatter, & encouraging the participant to empty the mind, or perhaps in its place visualise winning, delivering the perfect serve or improving technique. Similarly participants have cited further mental benefits such as improved concentration, patience, determination & self-control, & the promotion of mental clarity & stress reduction.

David Keil
Originating from the U.S. David has practiced yoga, & taught anatomy workshops, overseas for the past thirteen years.  His book Functional Anatomy of Yoga: A Guide for Practitioners & Teachers (RRP: £19.99, Lotus Publishing) is set for release 30 June 2014 & available from

David Keil was introduced to yoga in 1989 by his Tai Chi Chuan teacher, at 17 Keil had begun his life-long journey into his own mind-body connections.  Keil teaches anatomy & yoga workshops worldwide. He is one of a small number of people worldwide who are authorised to teach the ashtanga yoga system as taught by Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India where he has travelled numerous times to study.