A Bunch of Yogis Just Won the Super Bowl

Posted 02.03.2014

For the first time in a long time, the Super Bowl was blowout. The Seattle Seahawks best defense in the NFL totally shut down the Denver Broncos league best offense in a 43 – 8 rout. While Peyton Manning and his team struggled to get anything going, Russell Wilson and the Seahawks seemed focused, faster and, if its possible to be so in the biggest game of the year, relaxed and having fun.

In a post game gabfest on ESPN, Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young was almost giddy in talking with Seattle coach Pete Carroll about how he had prepared his team to win so big. Young repeatedly called Carroll a visionary for the way he had (a paraphrased quote here), “taken care of his players holistically – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.” It was almost like Young couldn’t quite describe what Carroll was doing but was desperate to understand it. The Seattle coach talked a lot about how he and his staff make a consistent effort to treat each player with respect as an individual and to help each of them realize their full potential.

What Carroll didn’t mention last night but has talked about before is that a lot of his players meditate daily and all of them practice yoga every day.

russell-okungIn a story in ESPN The Magazine last year, Seattle tackle, Russell Okung explained why he meditates:

“Meditation is as important as lifting weights and being out here on the field for practice. It’s about quieting your mind and getting into certain states where everything outside of you doesn’t matter in that moment. There are so many things telling you that you can’t do something, but you take those thoughts captive, take power over them and change them.”

You can see how that skill set could come in handy during the controlled chaos of an NFL championship game. It also comes in handy during the chaos, controlled and otherwise, of everyday life. The Seahawks mental performance coach, Michael Gervais, offered his approach for getting started in the same ESPN article. For players new to meditation, he has them focus on their breathing for six minutes. For the more experienced ones, he works with them on meditating a little longer.

As noted in another article on ABCnews.com the goal for Carroll and Gervais is to help players slow down their minds and calm down so they can fine tune their focus and attention during practice, games and their life off field. As Gervais sums it up, “Simply put, mindfulness occurs when you become more aware of your thoughts.”

As you approach your week this Monday, why not make a commitment to follow the lead of the Super Bowl champs? It’s simple to get started. Set your smartphone or device to give you a buzz every couple of hours. When it does, take two minutes to breathe deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. After you do, notice the difference it makes for your focus.