By Margit Bannon
If you play tennis it’s not such a stretch (pardon the pun) to say that you might enjoy the practice of yoga, and if you practice yoga that you might enjoy tennis. Let’s consider the parallels between these two disciplines.
As yogis we often say that there is no substitute for “getting on the mat” on a regular basis. And if you play tennis you know that it’s a game of repetition. During a recent conference I had the pleasure of taking a class with yoga master and Yoga Journal Editor, Jason Crandell, who said, “In order to build strength we need repetition and accuracy.” This statement is true not only for yoga but also for improvement in the game of tennis.
While it’s easy to focus on the physical nature of both, practice on the mat and the court leads to mental toughness or what we know in yoga as pratyahara (being able to drown out everything outside of our current activity). If we haven’t done the work and aren’t physically fit and confident, withdrawal of the senses becomes more difficult as distractions come in the form of excuses (insert your favorite here).
As we advance in our practice and we become more able, we find focus, dharana, the ability to concentrate on a single point of attention—as a tennis enthusiast, the ball. When we can combine these last few limbs of yoga, we more easily reach our goals of being “in the zone,” playing to our maximum potential, and reaching a state where we feel most alive (dhyana).
While these goals are not easy to master, we tennis players and yogis alike continue to not only struggle but also crave the challenge that these pastimes provide. In this way we improve our games, our practice, and also the quality of our lives.
Margit Bannon is a certified tennis professional through the USPTA as well as a yoga teacher certified through Yoga Alliance. If you share the love for tennis and/or yoga and would like to follow Margit please “like” her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/playtennispracticeyoga