03-03-2004, 11:19 AM
Not into Yoga or baseball myself but I thought it was pretty interesting. Very Agassi like in the way it deals with ageing.
03-03-2004, 11:26 AM
Here's the article in case you don't want to register to view:
March 3, 2004
With Help, Piazza Blends Baseball With Yoga
By LEE JENKINS
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla., March 2 — On a day when baseball was consumed with allegations and denials that the game was tainted by steroids, Mike Piazza paused between workouts at spring training Tuesday and sipped from a much different kind of juice.
The secret ingredients for Piazza's new energy drink are raw apple-cider vinegar, grade B maple syrup, cayenne pepper and flaxseed oil.
As Piazza walks from one field to another at the Mets' complex, a lanky, scruffy man follows closely behind, carrying a bag of apples, a bag of seeds, a gallon of water and a jug of his trademark juice. He pours it into small bottles for Piazza, quickly reminds him to stretch some more, then fades into the background.
When Commissioner Bud Selig issued a mandate barring personal trainers from clubhouses and playing fields last week, Anderson Bourell was not exactly whom he had in mind. Selig might have been worried about trainers distributing steroids; Bourell won't even distribute salted sunflower seeds.
Bourell, 31, has no specific title and no permanent residence, but he is living with Piazza at his house during spring training. He is working as his yoga instructor, nutritionist, herbalist, masseur, healer and guru. Piazza, truly a superstar for the new age, calls Bourell "my yogi."
"People say it's a bad time for me to be here because of what's happening with Jason Giambi and Barry Bonds," Bourell said. "I think it's a perfect time."
Like many power hitters, Piazza spent much of his career adding muscle mass and eating red meat. Last season, he missed almost three months with a torn right groin muscle and heard some speculation that he had taken steroids.
This winter, at 35, he decided that preserving his body was more important than building it.
"I've always been into strength and muscle, but I forgot about flexibility," Piazza said. "Over the years, I've lost my elasticity, and this is my way of limbering up. The goal is to refocus and realize these next years are critical to elongating my career. When you're 25, you can eat hamburgers and drink whatever you want. Not anymore."
The first time Bourell met Piazza — in Los Angeles, not surprisingly — Bourell noticed something was wrong with Piazza's posture. He determined that Piazza's right calf became contorted when he dropped into his catcher's crouch and that the arches of his feet collapsed inward. Bourell said the groin muscle injury resulted from a strain in the tendons on the right side of Piazza's body and could have been prevented with more stretching.
Bourell showed Piazza a series of movements, derived from yoga, designed to realign the skeleton. He also devised some different stretches that imitate motions a baseball player makes during a game. Piazza reported to camp saying he felt as flexible as ever, although perhaps not as buffed.
Bourell said: "Kids think the best thing is to be as big and strong as possible. The reality in athletics is the most important thing is maximum agility. If you lift a lot of weights, your tendons tighten and you limit your mobility."
Growing up in Boston, Bourell played most sports, including baseball. When he had appendicitis at 15, and tendinitis in his knees at 16, he was curious about the cause of the ailments. He started reading medical books, and when he graduated from high school, he served as an apprentice under various doctors, yoga instructors, herbalists and healers from Martha's Vineyard to Hawaii. Now he says he cannot remember the last time he was sick or injured.
Before Piazza takes the field, Bourell offers him seeds and juice, reminds him to use mental checkpoints when he's stretching and tells him to breathe through his nose so he doesn't strain his lungs. After practice, Bourell stretches Piazza near a batting cage, allowing him to relax his body and clear his mind from fan and news media demands.
At night, Bourell often visits a local health food store to buy more fruits and seeds. Then he leads Piazza in a yoga session, gives him a massage and fixes a dinner consisting only of uncooked foods: a spinach salad with raw portobello mushrooms, alfalfa sprouts, a clove of raw garlic, sunflower seeds and olive oil. Bourell has never seen Piazza eat a steak or drink a beer. "I'm very spiritual about things and I believe people come into my life for the right reasons," Piazza said. "Andy has got a calm way about him. He tells me what he sees. I'm not a hard-core vegetarian, but I realize there is a philosophy to raw foods instead of cooked foods that could make a difference in the long run."
During his first competitive performance at first base this spring, in an intrasquad game Tuesday, Piazza leapt to snag a line drive and stretched in an attempt to corral an errant throw. He also committed a throwing error, but that was more the fault of the pitcher, who did not cover first base.
In the coming weeks, Bourell will go back to Los Angeles or Martha's Vineyard, and Piazza will be on his own to apply the lessons he has learned. Bourell could visit New York this season, but he will not be a mainstay around the team. The Mets are complying with the ban on personal trainers, though they have no problem with Bourell.
He has become something of a phenomenon around spring training, a 6-foot-4 yogi with unkempt hair and an unshaven face carrying jugs of juice and bags of seeds. Before practice, it is not uncommon for Bourell to burst into impromptu stretching on an open space of grass.
"A lot of people are at the time of their life where they are not receptive to this," Bourell said. "Mike is doing well because he's open to learning. A motivating factor is often fear. Mike has been injured and he doesn't want that to ever happen again."
Trying for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, SCOTT ERICKSON gave up seven runs, six earned, in an intrasquad game Tuesday. He got only one out and gave up a home run to RAUL GONZALEZ. KARIM GARCIA also hit a home run and MIKE CAMERON climbed the fence to rob a homer.
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