During Spring Training in 2007, the Devil Rays brought in a certified professional instructor and conducted a team yoga session. It was viewed mostly as a gimmick at the time, another shot in the dark for a franchise struggling to find its way.
But manager Joe Maddon said that he expected yoga and flexibility training to become more mainstream in baseball, much like weight lifting was in the 1970s. Five years later, one of Maddon’s star players is proving his prediction to be accurate.
“We have students who are bodybuilders, and they come in thinking they’re incredibly strong, but as soon as you get them doing yoga, they’re shaking like a leaf,” said Roni Sloman, a certified yoga instructor and meditation coach at Bella Prana Yoga and Meditation in Tampa, Fla., where Longoria has taken classes. “They begin to realize very quickly that their body, foundationally, can be quite weak. Once they realize that, it becomes a priority.”