Yoga making its way to high school football practices

STANLEY, Kan. -- Football fans in Kansas can finally breath easily.

High school football begins tonight in the Sunflower State, and one team is using new world methods to prepare for action on the gridiron.

Every Thursday, as football practice ends, a new voice enters the field of practice at Blue Valley High School.

"Take a deep exhale and bend to your waist," Kristen Daschke, holistic sports therapist, shouts.

Since spring practices, Daschke has conducted yoga classes with football players at the school. Tigers Head Coach Eric Driskell decided to give yoga a shot as opposed to the traditional post-workout stretching sessions.

After football workouts conclude, Daschke rallies dozens of football players, still decked out in traditional football gear, in yoga techniques, including downward-facing dog and pigeon pose.

"I thought it was an excellent idea. I work with professional athletes as well. The inflexibility of athletes in tremendous. Finding that deep stretch to recovery is huge," Daschke told FOX 4 News.

It seems to be working. Driskell, who led his team to the Class 6A state runner-up prize in 2015, says it's helping make players more flexible while reducing serious injuries.

"There's a lot more breathing involved. There's more relaxation. The kids have bought into it. Some of them struggle, still, but they work pretty hard at it," Driskell said.

Players are buying into yoga, even if it's taking some traditional diehards more time to come around than others. Tigers Wide Receiver Michael Maffry says yoga is making its mark on these players.

"Some of them love it. Others are a little skeptical. They're not big fans because they're so tired already and they don't want to worry about it," Maffry said.

"Just seeing their progress and what focus and what concentration and the flexibility they're able to get from yoga, it's just progressing ever since we started," Daschke said.

Daschke told FOX 4 News she hasn't heard of many high school teams -- or college or pro, for that matter -- using yoga like this. She hopes it will catch on in a big way.