Sally Mohr sat in front of one of the cages inside the weight room adjacent to the South Gym at Davis High.
Mirroring her on Oct. 1 were members of the Davis High football team, a day after the squad played a Delta League game at Elk Grove.
The Blue Devil players, under the direction of Mohr, were taking part in yoga, which is a Hindu spiritual and ascetic discipline. This helps breathing control, meditation and the adoption of specific bodily postures that favor health and relaxation.
The players went through various positions during their hour-long session. Some of those positions include the child’s pose, which relaxes a person’s nervous system.
There’s also the corpse pose, where the person lies flat on their back that induces a relaxed state.
One position that the Blue Devils were doing, which is common among student-athletes in high school and college and professional athletics, is sitting in the L position and touching their toes.
Towards the end of Saturday’s session, the players, sitting down, crossed their legs to the opposite side. They put their hands together as if they were praying. In fact, they are in the final posture of the practice.
Mohr teaches yoga at Fit House in Davis. She has been teaching for nearly a decade.
She specializes in vinyasa yoga, which is a contemporary style of yoga.
“The way I’m teaching them is some basic stretches,” said Mohr, “and then we move into more deeper stretches. Just kind of moving through their body.”
Mohr enjoys teaching the players the different forms of yoga.
“What I love about it also is that we’re working into mental,” Mohr said.
The idea of the players taking part in yoga came from within the DHS football coaching staff. Tanner Mohr, who is one of the assistant coaches working with the linebackers, tossed out the idea.
“He (Tanner) said, ‘my mom is a yoga instructor, I can probably get her to come out and do it,'” said Davis head coach Nick Garratt.
The Blue Devil players are used to having some type of light practice on Saturdays after a Friday night game — before and after the pandemic. Conditioning and stretching is the norm for the players.
Garratt admitted, at first, he was “a bit skeptical” about his players doing yoga.
“There wasn’t like overexcitement,” recalled Garratt. “A few kind of didn’t participate. But then we got guys into it.”
Some of the players seemed reluctant towards performing yoga.
But the attitude quickly changed after the first session.
“I think she’s kind of fallen in love with the kids,” Garratt said. “The kids like spending time with her. I think it’s just a good, wholesome activity.”
The Davis football players have been practicing yoga since Aug. 13, a day after competing at a jamboree that the Dixon High football team hosted at John Knight Middle School. The football field at Dixon High was closed due to maintenance.
“Our initial reaction was nothing special, because the guys who played varsity in the past knew that we stretched/run on Saturdays,” said AJ Hasson, a junior tight end/defensive tackle.
Hasson is listed at 6-foot-4 and 255-pounds on the roster. He and the other Blue Devil linemen on the team have benefited from practicing yoga.
“Now we have big linemen that are coming to me and saying, ‘you know, the stretch is a bit difficult, can you ask her to do the breathing exercise,'” Garratt said. “Little things like that are awesome.”
“Yoga has allowed me to improve my flexibility and it has allowed me to clear my mind after a game,” Hasson said.
Hasson plans on practicing yoga after the high school football season is over. He’s also a three-sport athlete, competing on DHS’ wrestling team in the heavyweight class in the winter and playing on the Davis High boys lacrosse team in the spring.
“I, 100 percent, plan on doing yoga after the football season because it is a very useful tool to recover mentally and physically,” Hasson said.
Mohr feels that there are perks for the players performing yoga.
“All of us have this intention of helping these men really become a little bit successful in football and yoga,” Mohr said. “I’ve been impressed with them from the beginning.”
The Blue Devil players will resume their yoga sessions with Mohr on Saturday, Oct. 15.
“I’m giving them a three-day weekend,” Garratt said.
Davis (0-3 in the Delta League, 2-5) has the Delta League bye Friday. The Blue Devils’ next game is Friday, Oct. 14 when they return to league action against Sheldon at Ron and Mary Brown Stadium.
Will DeBoard, assistant commissioner for the Sac-Joaquin Section, believes there are no other high school football teams that practice yoga in the section.
— Contact Mike Bush at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @MBDavisSports.