Kwame Osei is a former pro-athlete (CFL), Coach (Queen’s University Football Team), TV personality (Amazing Race Canada Finalist), Author (Inspirational Kids Books), CEO of athletic apparel company (Triumph Elite), Co-Founder of a non-profit mentorship organization (Northern Elite Football), host and keynote speaker.
Kwame was a member of our Oranj Fitness studio for many years. We chatted with Kwame and asked him to share his reasons on why he loves yoga so much! Read his blog post below and learn more on why yoga can be so beneficial to your body.
I have always been a very active person. Growing up I played pretty much every sport, whether it was at school, during recess, in my neighbourhood with my friends or on organized sports teams. I played football, basketball, soccer, road hockey, roller hockey, baseball and tennis. When it came to stretching I did the bare minimum. Truthfully I found stretching extremely boring. Looking back now I realized that I often skipped that part of football practice or just went through the motions and never really stretched. In my high school days I would frequently injure my hip flexor but would often just push through the pain. That decision definitely hindered my performance.
In my fourth year of University, I started doing my own research about yoga and realized how beneficial it was for athletes. I decided to start practicing yoga and took classes 2-3 times a week at my school. I encourage my friends to join me and before you knew it, we had a solid group of 6-9 athletes practicing yoga together. During that stage of my life, I noticed a huge difference in my athletic performance. My body was much more limber. I became smooth in my running and more agile than ever before. All my testing numbers drastically improved. I was by far a better athlete because of this new yoga practice.
During my research I also found out that yoga helps prevent injuries, which I can attest to be true because during that period of time I was never hindered by injuries. I became super fluid, my mobility and flexibility showed in my performance. Initially when I started the yoga practice I was very stiff, after a month of doing yoga 2-3 times a week I felt like Mister Fantastic with superior stretching ability. I also found cases of various successful professional athletes who were devoted to yoga, I realized that weight training, sprint training and skill work would be sub-par if flexibility training was not incorporated. Many of the top athletes in the NFL and CFL at my position (Receiver) did not spend as much time on weight lifting as one would presume. They spent more time on their flexibility along with speed and skill work. Once I realized this my world changed. Everything about me athletically was improved. If you want to be faster you need to be flexible. If you want to be more agile you need to be more flexible, if you want to be stronger guess what? You need to be more flexible. Literally the answer to improving my athletic ability was right in front of me, I needed to get more flexible, it was an aspect of training that I neglected for years, and it was the aspect that was holding me back.
When I moved to Fort McMurray in 2012 and began teaching at Holy Trinity High School, I made it a goal to incorporate yoga and flexibility training for all my students and athletes. I especially wanted to change the perception of yoga to the male students. During football season I would invite a yoga instructor to host a class for my football players once a week before school. In the off season I would get a group of athletes together and attend a yoga class 2 times a week either at Holy Trinity or Oranj Fitness. In my class we would have a yoga session a few times a semester. Sometimes I led the practice or had an instructor from Oranj Fitness lead the practice. The feedback from these sessions were always positive, as many students told me how much they enjoyed it and felt refreshed. Often, they would encourage me to have more yoga days with them throughout the school year. There were even a number of athletes who incorporated yoga into their game day routines.
Recently I started practicing yoga for a different reason, initially it was all about working my flexibility but now it has become a way for me to strengthen my mind and activate what I call “Zen Mode”. I’m at a point in my life where I believe everything starts with the power of the mind, everything we do is mind focused. How we think, move and feel is all centered from the mind. I realized that if I want to be successful in everything I do, I need to make sure my mind is strong. Yoga teaches you to find stillness in discomfort, yoga brings your mind and body to a superior level you never knew existed, only because you never challenged yourself to get there. I strongly urge all young athletes to build your foundation with yoga. I also encourage any success driven people reading this to try yoga out. When you open up your mind and spirit to a level beyond imaginable, anything can be achieved in life. Treat your body right and it will treat you right. Activate your ZEN MODE!
If you are interested in incorporating yoga into your daily routine, sign up online with Oranj on Demand, or attend a class locally at one of our three franchise locations by clicking the links below. Our local studios also provide private group classes available upon request.