Last week, all of those who bleed green got to experience an incredible moment in prairie history: not only did the Saskatchewan Roughriders win the 101st Grey Cup, they won it on their home turf at Mosaic Stadium at Taylor Field in Regina, Saskatchewan. Roughrider fans epitomize the term prairie pride, with the Canadian Football League's most die hard fans. (The Saskatchewan Rough Riders franchise sells more merchandise than all other CFL teams combined, despite being the smallest market in the league.) 

Fan support was one of the reasons the Roughriders were able to take home the cup. That along with smart passing, wicked receptions, and... pranayama breathing?

"It's a very fast-paced game," says Matt Yausie, the Roughriders contracted yoga instructor, "you may only have 20 seconds to recover. Yoga teaches athletes to be able to react with a calm state of mind."

Yausie, a Saskatoon native who teaches power flow yoga at Level 10 Fitness in Regina has been working with Roughriders players for the last three years in the off-season. Yausie is trained by Baron Baptiste, a power yoga legend who worked with the Philadelphia Eagles when they were the most injured football team in the NFL (who would later would become the least injured team in the league.)

"Yoga has allowed me to extend my football career. There is no way I would have been able to play as long as I have without my practice. It created a space for healing, and to mentally prepare for the physically demanding game," says the 30 year-old former defensive back for the University of Regina Rams.

Yausie found yoga in 2006 after having suffered his fair share of tackles and injuries in his own football career and found his first class "very difficult," but felt immediate relief from the asanas to his tight joints.

"Athletes have great challenges in yoga," Yausie adds, crediting a rigorous training schedule and outside pressures as some of their biggest hurdles to finding a practice. But thanks to Dan Farthing, the owner of Level 10 Fitness, a former Saskatchewan Roughrider, and the current strength and conditioning coordinator for the team, Yausie's 60 minute restorative yoga class has been taught to members of the team on day one of the team's training cycle. 

"What I enjoy about teaching athletes is that they really do care, and apply themselves to the best of their ability," says Yausie.

"I have a small part in what they do on the field," he adds, "but bringing yoga to athletes has created a really nice way for me to be a part of the game."

Yausie's contribution to the Roughrider's success earned him a spot on the 50 yrd line to watch the 101st Grey Cup.

"It was such a special evening. The energy was electric in Mosaic Park."

Thanks for the Skype interview Matt! Namaste.


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