This week our Yogi in the Community is no stranger to movement. Derrick “DJ” Townsel played for the Houston Texans for the 2010-2011 seasons and is currently continuing his career as a free agent. The secret to Derrick’s game? You guessed it, YOGA! I had a chance to chat with Derrick and asked him about yoga, football, and his ability to integrate the two in his life. What a great inspiration and representation for men (especially Men of Color) who are not as visible in communities that practice yoga. Who are some of your favorite male yogis?
Name: Derrick “DJ” Townsel
Location: Orlando, FL
What led you to the practice of yoga? I was doing yoga on and off a couple years ago as a way to stretch and relax but I was very inconsistent. I was very stiff and it was restricting my growth as an athlete. Recently I decided to buckle down and make stretching a vital part of my workout regimen. Yoga was the only way i could enjoy stretching…the meditation and spiritual aspect kind of snuck up on me lol.
How long have you been practicing? I’ve been practicing consistently for about 3 months
As a professional football player, how has yoga influenced your game? Yoga has improved my game tremendously. My range of motion (flexibility) has increased tremendously, making my lateral and linear quickness and speed a lot more explosive. My muscle growth has also improved. Mentally, I’m a lot more focused on the task at hand when I take the field or preparing for a workout. Even when I hear trash-talking from an opponent, my first thought is “Namaste” 🙂
It is very rare that you see men practicing yoga in studios, advertisements, etc. Do you have any suggestions for men who may dismiss yoga because they think it is a gender specific practice? Working at a gym, I’ve encountered a bunch of guys who are looking to improve their body or find out a way to take their fitness and athleticism to the next level. I’m not surprised at the facial expressions I get when I suggest yoga. Of course, they automatically put if off as a practice for women. We’re simple creatures, so beside the obvious spiritual benefits, I testify on how much your body can benefit.
What keeps you coming back to the mat? My physical, spiritual, and mental growth is what brings me back to the mat. My muscle definition and athleticism has improved, my range of motion is a lot better than it was 3 months ago, and my spiritual/emotional outlook on life has changed for the better.
If you would like to keep up with or contact Derrick you can find him on Instagram: @Dade2Shelby
Twitter: @DJ_Townsel14 and reach him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org