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What Does Yoga Mean To a Professional Athlete?

On my latest episode of The Yoga Inspiration Podcast, I’m sharing the inside scoop on what yoga means to a lifelong athlete. Dusty is a professional gymnast and yoga student in Las Vegas who didn’t take his first yoga class until he was in his 60s! Now it’s been five years since he started and his experience is bound to inspire yoga beginners and expert yoga students both to get on the mat.

Because you don’t have to be an athlete to practice yoga. Sure, being a lifelong gymnast has its perks when it comes to flexibility and core strength, but Dusty reveals that any kind of athleticism can’t prepare a yogi for the mental and emotional workout the practice takes you on. 

Unusual circumstances brought Dusty to the yoga mat. As a gymnast, he was always sustaining sprains and injuries – but then he broke both of his legs in a surfing accident. It wasn’t the physical healing he was worried about. Dusty was more curious about the emotional impact an injury like this would have on him. He shares how his first yoga class inspired him to rethink his healing process and why he ultimately decided to turn taking care of himself and his yoga journey his top priority. 

I’ve always been in awe of the work gymnasts can put in. But yoga taught Dusty things he never considered before. We’re always quick to assume that someone as nimble as a gymnast can just hop on their yoga mat and do pose after pose after pose. In reality, yoga stretches a range of motion that a gymnast like Dusty never stretched before. 

Dusty discusses what surprises him most about the differences between gymnastic training and yoga practice. It might surprise you to hear that a star athlete like Dusty couldn’t even do child’s pose at first! But all of this practice and learning made Dusty feel like a beginner again. 

No matter how far along you are in your yoga journey, you will always be a yoga beginner. There are always new positions to learn, new mistakes to be made, and Dusty shares with me the things that yoga is teaching and re-teaching him every day. 

Dusty even asks me what it’s like to be a yoga teacher at the end of this episode. I must admit that self-reflection immediately makes me feel embarrassed. I still feel like a beginner. I relate to my yoga students and they inspire me every day to get back on the mat and keep trying. 

What is your yoga inspiration?

It’s something Dusty made me think about on this episode, and it’s something I want you to think about as you listen today. Because you never know when inspiration will strike. You can’t predict what the world has in store for you, and you never know where moments like these will end up taking you. Like Dusty says, yoga is timeless, and your yoga mat will be right here waiting no matter where you’re at in your yoga journey. 

Listen to the podcast episode here.