A typical weekday morning for Sid McNairy normally consists of teaching a yoga class at his Towson studio, Sid Yoga Center.
“From my yoga practice I've learned how to truly sit with the pain and know the difference between pain and injury,” said McNairy.
McNairy is a former football player and coach. 14-years ago he convinced his players at Morgan State to try yoga.
“We were the 2nd most injured team in our conference,” said McNairy. “I knew that I already healed my body through yoga. So we started trying it with the players. Next thing you know I've got 93 guys doing yoga.”
Now he has numerous athletes on-board, including local high schoolers. Like the boys basketball team at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute.
“When we took over at Poly as a staff, we had no basketball history. We've included Yoga in our program development and in our first five years we had our first regional and city championship in the school's history,” said head boys basketball coach Sam Brand.
It's one thing to actually get your athletes to agree to be part of a yoga class. But it's yet another thing to get your players to buy into that program.
“When we first came to the players and said 'Alright, we're going to do yoga'. They said: 'Coach you're weird. We're not doing yoga',” said McNairy. “At first we made it optional. Then, all of a sudden, we had some players that went from running slow 40-times... I mean we had a guy that went from a 4.8 to a 4.5. So we started seeing all these results. That's when everyone said: 'Ok, I want it. I want it.'”
As for the benefits of yoga for athletes, both men say it helps the overall movement, flexibility, balance and recovery time. It also benefits the mental part of the game.
“If I can get you to just shift in your mental state and be more direct and see how you're moving, then all of a sudden you make that shift on the field, on the court, in the pool or wherever,” said McNairy. “That's the big thing to me.”