Olympic gold medalist Rebecca Soni fell in love with yoga while training as a professional athlete and has made it a life long practice.
When Soni graduated from college she had more time to explore different options for her dryland training, “I was at a point in my career where I was swimming with the pro team,” said Soni. “That meant I didn’t have to do the college program in the weight room.”
She went on the search to fill that void in her training. Insert yoga.
Although she knew the physical benefits of the practice the biggest reason she started was for the psychological benefits, “It wasn’t the flexibility, it wasn’t the workout, it was mostly for the mental side of the practice. Having something to do that was mentally quiet.”
Soni took her first yoga class at a gym, but really got sold when she discovered a class in nature, “I remember taking it at the gym where they offered a tiny little class in the corner. It was okay. Then I started going to a park where they offered a free yoga class. That is where I started doing it more regularly.”
“It was just a fun adventure and it was complementing my training as well.”
Balance, Self Awareness and Discovery
Something Soni loves about yoga is learning to challenge herself and develop self-awareness at the same time, “I can be a little competitive with yoga. Being competitive can be very satisfying, but it has to be kept in check. I do constantly have check myself. ‘Why am I here? What am I focusing on? What am I thinking about through the class?'”
“I do want to challenge myself. It is this beautiful balance between pushing and knowing why I am pushing at the same time. I want to keep progressing both mentally and physically.”
In her post swimming career yoga has continued to be a huge part of Soni’s life, “It has become my most consistent athletic outlet. It is my place where I physically push myself and challenge myself to do things new things. I also still love the quiet and the mental down time.”
She loves doing a variety of different vinyasa style classes and is continually discovering new things about both her mind and her body, “About a year and a half after swimming ended I had been doing a good amount of yoga. When were doing some chest and shoulder openers it was like a whole new level of opening. It took a year and a half after swimming for my shoulders to open.”
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