Oranje and Yoga: An unlikely partnership

Junior Hockey World CupDutch hockey players during their Yoga session

On the morning of their bronze medal match at the Junior World Cup, the Dutch hockey team meets up in the 16th floor. Each player sits on a couple of pillows and begins to meditate. The relatively simple breathing exercise is followed by the Suryanamaskara before the group moves on to more challenging balance poses. Groans inevitably follow as hamstrings are painfully stretched. Leading the novice yogis is team manager Floris Evers.

While he is renowned for his hockey skills he has two Olympic silver medals Evers, the yoga guru, is of more recent vintage. The 30-year-old learnt the practice in Goa last year, during the course of a six month journey around the world after quitting international hockey post the 2012 Olympics.

When he was named manager of the Dutch junior team for the World Cup, Evers who also plays for HIL champions Ranchi Rhinos, wanted to go beyond the typical role expected of him. "For some managers it is about making sure the kit, training schedules are in order and patting someone on the shoulder once in a while. But I didn't just want to make sure the laundry was done," says Evers.

Teams usually start each day with a walk or by stretching, and Evers along with team coach Sjoerd Marijne thought of introducing some yoga as well. The class itself is optional and several players chose instead to get an extra half hour of sleep. Those who did join weren't sure how seriously to take the strange chanting and posing. "When the players first chanted Om Ganpataye Namo Namaha there was a lot of laughing but that's not a bad thing. I didn't want it to be serious because yoga isn't about taking yourself too seriously," says Evers.

Young and willing

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