From the Field to the Mat: Famous Athletes Who Do Yoga

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Many celebrities have recognized and praised yoga as a method for relaxation and focusing on achieving their goals. We can name dozens of Hollywood actors and music stars who stick to the practice as a part of their routine. Being in a sound shape of body and mind is essential when your primary occupation is linked to a lot of stress and responsibility. But who are the famous athletes who do yoga?

Is it beneficial for top professionals in sports to go through that discipline to enhance their performance in their main field of action? It turns out that the ancient Indian tradition is instrumental for numerous stars in different areas, requiring them to go through some significant physical load in order to achieve big things.

Some of the greatest football stars use yoga to be fit and concentrated. And if you wonder which sport we are talking about, it is both soccer and the game called football in America. The Indian practice helps dozens of professionals in other areas, too. Among the famous athletes who do yoga, we find some of the most outstanding basketball and tennis players, as well as champions in track and field and other individual disciplines. There are many athletes that do Hot yoga, while others prefer more relaxed types. 

Leo Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo share a passion for yoga

Yes, these two superstars marked a whole era in the history of the most celebrated game on the planet. And there are still around even away from European football – Leo Messi went West to Inter Miami (owned by another yoga devotee, David Beckham). At the same time, Cristiano Ronaldo chose to go East, to the surprise of many, to play in Saudi Arabia.

The Argentine number 10 and the Portuguese number 7 have been furious rivals for years, wearing Barcelona’s and Real Madrid’s jerseys, respectively. But it occurs that both share a passion for yoga. We learned that Leo is among the pro athletes who do yoga, thanks to his wife, Antonela Roccuzzo. It helps Messi stay fit and injury-free for so long. On his part, Cristiano admits to going through meditation practice prior to every game in order to get himself calmer and more focused. 

Lionel Messi
The legendary Leo Messi is among the athletes who love doing yoga (Photo: Shutterstock)

And these are not the only soccer stars getting benefits from practicing the Indian tradition. The Liverpool FC goalscorer Mohamed Salah is believed to be one of the athletes who do yoga. A monster in the Manchester City attack, Erling Haaland, also gets his calm in front of the target by sticking to the eastern practice. We can name other players like Jose Maria Gimenez and Yunus Musah who benefit from it, and there are definitely many more.

Beckham was a role model

We can find many former soccer stars who prolonged their careers thanks to yoga. David Beckham was a role model in that sense, practicing together with his wife, Victoria. His long-time teammate at Manchester United, Ryan Giggs, is sure that he retired so late because he was following the ancient Indian tradition. Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently retired after playing in his 40s, and it is not surprising that he did yoga, too. The same applies to soccer stars who recently quit the game, like Gareth Bale and David Silva.

The NBA All-Star team is led by LeBron James

Numerous basketball stars dedicate themselves to ancient Eastern practices to better prepare for heavy court battles. No other than LeBron leads the NBA All-Star yoga team. The King goes through different styles, such as Hatha, Ashtanga, and Vinyasa. While he credits yoga for helping him stay flexible and prevent injuries, LeBron believes he also benefits from it to set his mind properly.

LeBron James
Basketball super star LeBron James (Photo: Erik Drost)

There are many other NBA athletes who do yoga, too. It is believed that Kareem Abdul Jabbar was the first who opened himself to the Indian tradition to recover from his injuries and improve his flexibility. One of the all-time greats, the 7-foot tall giant, is convinced that without yoga, he couldn’t play until he was 42. We add the names of greats like Kevin Garnett, Dwyane Wade, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Kevin Durant to the list of NBA athletes who do yoga. Many current players follow in their footsteps to get themselves in optimal shape. For example, two rising New York Knicks stars,  Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin, are among the athletes doing Hot yoga.

From the Downward Dog to the Grand Slam record

Speaking of famous athletes who do yoga, we just can’t miss the man who won the most Golden Slam trophies in history. Novak Djokovic is one of the greatest tennis players of all time – if not THE greatest – and we can point to his amazing flexibility among his top skills. These unbelievable stretches performed by the Serbian champion in some crucial episodes are possible because he does yoga. We can actually see him practicing poses like the Downward Dog or the Cobra right before a match.

Novak Djokovic
The tennis GOAT is crazy about yoga (Photo:

Djokovic is not the only tennis star who uses various methods from the Indian tradition. It’s enough to mention former World Number One players like Maria Sharapova and Andy Murray to understand how important yoga can be in this sport. And it is beneficial in other games and disciplines, too.

All Blacks also practice yoga

Believe it or not, one of the most fearsome sports teams also turns to the ancient Indian tradition. All Blacks include some stretches and poses in their routine before going to the field to do the Haka dance. Sonny Bill Williams and Ma’a Nonu are among the most devoted yoga fans on the New Zealand rugby national team.

Another sport requiring immense physical strength also relies on the Indian tradition. It’s about American football this time. Ricky Williams, Tony Parrish, and Russell Wilson are among the NFL stars who include some poses in their routine.


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We can find yoga practitioners in many other sports. British marathon star Paula Radcliffe, six-time Olympic medalist swimmer Rebecca Soni from the USA, and former Formula One champion Jenson Button make the list. 

Do we miss somebody significant? Probably. Well, there are more and more athletes who do yoga these days. It’s no longer an Eastern exotic but a proven way to improve both physical skills and mental strength on the way to sporting success.

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