MSU Spartans Football Coach Ron Burton on Development of the Athlete | “Coaching the Coach” | Bikram Yoga

bikram yoga student spartans football coach ron burton Michigan state university

Just over three years ago, Michigan State University Assistant Football Coach Ron Burton started practicing Bikram Yoga with us.  Since then, he has been telling every coach and athlete he knows about this practice, encouraging them to come to class, and bringing his kids to class whenever they are in town.

They call each other “coach”, so if you ever hear Ann say that in class, you know who she is talking to!  🙂

Here you can read a short interview between Coach Burton and “Coach Chrapkiewicz”!  🙂


Can you tell us about your background professionally, as an athlete and a coach?

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and earned a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina, where I graduated with a B.A. in 1987.  I then played linebacker in the National Football League for 4 years (1987-1990). I played for the Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, and Los Angeles Raiders.  Following that I went to graduate school, and became a graduate assistant in football at North Carolina from 1991-93.

I have been a college football assistant coach for 26 years – now going into my 7th season at Michigan State University.  (You can read more about Coach Burton on his MSU profile here.)

What is your experience with yoga practice in general?

My yoga experience started with a few times during the spring in college, then a few times during my off-seasons in my professional football career.  While living in Colorado, I would search for workouts from our cable networks. So I rediscovered yoga in my basement believe it or not, and started following some of the 20-, 30-, and 60- minute yoga workouts.  

I just kept remembering how great I felt physically and mentally after a session.  I was refreshed, my body increased its fluidity and limberness, and the clarity of my mind and focus was always increased. 

We had been living in East Lansing for a few years, when Golf Coach Victor Whipp told me about Bikram Yoga.  I came to Bikram Yoga Capital Area for the first time in May of 2016 and have been coming as much as I can since then.  More frequently in the off-season, but during season whenever I can, too.

How does Bikram Yoga relate to teaching and coaching?

I am just a novice in Bikram Yoga, but I view it as a fundamental.  It is a necessary foundation that helps improve the physical and mental side of any sport or hobby.

The class connects with “we” …. I get to be coached by someone else in a hobby or sport that I know nothing about. 

This yoga forces you to listen fully in the moment, to understand what you are hearing, and then respond. It forces you to focus. Each time in class, I’m learning something new to further improve one of the 26 postures.  I learn how to adjust each posture with precise movements – all  according to my ability in the moment.

As a coach, you are constantly trying to improve your way of getting your point across.   The instructors here speak with clarity, and effective tone of voice.  They respond to and troubleshoot questions.  And they do it without being in a hurry, or loud.  And yet it is so effective.

This improves me as a coach because I get to see, hear, and understand a different way of teaching and getting a point across.  Coach Ann Chrapkiewicz has been a great example for me as a coach.  Not just talk…action!

How does Bikram Yoga contribute to athletic development?

Bikram Yoga definitely contributes to the development of an athlete, regardless of sport!  With a consistent practice, it contributes to mental development – it improves focus, clarity, discipline, and listening skills.  Physically, it improves range of motion at the arms, hips, core, and spine. It feels like it is rinsing the body of toxins.

It’s a lifetime journey!

Here is a video of Coach Burton and the whole class practicing the backward bending portion of Half Moon Pose:

What are some of the benefits that you have personally experienced with Bikram Yoga?

For me personally, the benefits have been numerous.  My focus and clarity have improved, as has my patience.  My stress level has definitely been reduced. My listening skills are better.  Physically, I have an overall better understanding of my body’s weaknesses and strength.  My posture is better, my flexibility has improved, and my breathing is so much better.

I have had numerous athletic injuries in the past – torn pectoral muscles, sprained ankles, pulled groin, broken fingers and thumb, torn ACL, meniscus tear, and multiple neck strains.  The way that Bikram Yoga includes modifications of depth in all of the postures helps you have a starting point.  So even with all of these injuries I can start each posture correctly.  And then when I try the same postures from class to class, I can see improvement in those injured or weak areas.

During the football season, I LOVE Friday morning Bikram Yoga to end my work week, and Sunday morning class before church to start my work week.  My goal this year is to add Wednesday evening class to my schedule.

One of my New Year’s resolutions this year has been to become more consistent in attendance at Bikram Yoga Capital Area.  Why? Simply because I LOVE IT!

I get to be “a COACH being Coached….. “

THANK YOU, COACH CHRAPKIEWICZ!


 

Yoga is Better than Surgery, Part 1 | Athletics, Injuries, and Knee Recovery | Briona Jones |

bikram hot yoga east lansing michigan

Meet Briona Jones, 29, doctoral candidate in English at Michigan State University and former Division I basketball player.

Briona’s story is so moving and her reflections so articulate, we decided to share them in multiple blog posts!  Here is Part I, which focuses mostly on the physical benefits Briona has created with her practice.


Childhood

I was born with rickets, so as a child I was able to walk, but I wasn’t able to run.  I was also prone to dislocation of my knees. Corrective surgery is usually needed for those types of situations, but my legs got better without it.  My mom would take me out in the sun a lot and gave me vitamins.

I started playing basketball in middle school (around 2002), and in 2006 I had a bad knee dislocation at a basketball tournament – my knee cap went to the back of my leg!  I had surgery the following year and it went well.

College Athletics, Surgery, and Recovery

I played Division I basketball in college at Kennesaw State University.  I ended up developing “jumpers knee”, which is a type of tendonitis of the knee.  It caused a sharp pain anytime I jumped, ran, or stopped abruptly. I could not run without sharp pain.

I had an MRI in 2011, which revealed three holes in the cartilage layer below my knee cap.  The surgery I ended up having involved Platelet Plasma Recovery, the injection of fetal cartilage, and realignment of my kneecap!

Even with surgery and physical therapy, my leg never went back to its full capacity of being a leg.  

At physical therapy, they ask you to rate your pain on a level of 1 to 10.  Well, in 2011 and 2012, I had a pain level of 15 on a frequent basis. The swelling did eventually go down, and I continued to run, until 2015.  But I would say my knee never totally recovered.

bikram hot yoga michiganPain and My Quality of Life

Cooking most of my meals is a really important part of my life.  

This might seem simple, but in order to cook a meal, you have to stand, right?  

From 2011 until I started Bikram Yoga in 2017, my knee would swell at least 4 or 5 times a week while I was cooking dinner.  The pain level would be between a 7 and a 9, and I would always need to sit down and ice my knee, just to finish preparing a meal.

I never, ever expected that the pain in my body would dissipate.  It just seemed like it was always going to be that way.

Journey to Michigan State University

I came to Michigan State in 2015 to enroll in the doctoral program in the Department of English.

I remember that when I was working out and running, I would still have intense swelling in my knee.  My previous normal running distance would be five miles, easily, but at this point I could barely run two miles.  I was frustrated, so I stopped running. My physical therapists here suggested that I try biking.

In September 2017, I had an MRI; it confirmed that I had arthritis and tendonitis.

I tried going to physical therapy here at MSU, but it was $15 a session, and they wanted me to come 3 times per week.  I really could not afford that, the recovery was not going to be fast enough, and overall I just was not satisfied with the care.  It seemed to me like it was going to end up in me having to have surgery again!

Bikram Yoga Showed Up

In the fall of 2017, it was time for me to write my proposal and study for exams, and it was the most unstructured part of my life.  It was a time where I was able to set my own schedule, and I knew I wanted a more holistic way of tending to my needs and my health.  I had been meditating, but I was looking for more.

I live directly behind BYCA, and one day in October, after I left my physical therapist, I thought, “I am just gonna come to Bikram”.  Although I had heard of Bikram Yoga before, I had no idea of the kind of healing possibility it would have!

It’s a one hundred percent healing venture.

I practiced on and off for the first two months and then started practicing consistently in December 2017.

Physical Therapy & Respiratory Benefits

In physical therapy, they always ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10.  Prior to Bikram Yoga I had pain levels of 7 to 9 most of the time.

Once I started doing Bikram Yoga consistently, I had swelling only 2 to 3 times in the first four months!  As of April 2018, I might occasionally have a level 2 pain. And that was it.

Then, in December 2018, after only a year of practice, I could play basketball every week with no pain.  It is amazing!

It seems like what physical therapy is trying to do is similar to Bikram Yoga.  Since practicing yoga regularly, I have felt the contraction of the knees and thighs, and noticed how my quadriceps have developed without any weights.  

I should also point out that I am asthmatic.  During my first few Bikram Yoga classes, I couldn’t breathe well.  But by four or five classes in, I was able to breathe and keep up with the group.

And before that – throughout my life – I had worked out a lot!


Stay tuned for many more aspects of Briona’s healing experiences… Part II, coming soon! 

Healing Asthma, Sciatica, Wrist Sprains, …. and Growing Almost an inch!

Meet Sarah Cook, 34, of St. John’s, Michigan.  Sarah started practicing Bikram Yoga with us in the spring of 2014, upon a recommendation from her sister.  As of this writing, Sarah has practiced exactly 365 classes!  Sarah has had some exciting updates recently, but her whole history of benefits is very diverse, and quite exciting!

Year 1:

“Before I started yoga, I had gotten a bone bruise (near-fracture) close to my knee, and after 4 weeks on crutches, I was supposed to do physical therapy.  Instead, with permission of my specialist, I practiced Bikram Yoga 3 times a week for 6 weeks.  After that, the specialist said I was completely healed, I did not need any physical therapy, and she would not need to see me anymore.

“In my first year of yoga I lost 30 pounds….and I have kept it off! I used to gain about 5 pounds every winter, but now it doesn’t stick with me anymore.

“I had several previous wrist sprains and injuries and had so much pain I could not use scissors.  Within a few months of practicing, I could use scissors again and the pain was gone.

Year 2:

“My need for asthma medication was drastically reduced.  Before Bikram Yoga I was taking a daily inhaler at 220 mcg every day – sometimes twice a day.  As of Spring 2017 I was taking half of that dose, and I only needed it an average of once a week!

“My sciatica also went away.  My dad walks with a cane because of similar issues, and it was starting to develop in me.  Before yoga I could hardly carry my toddler for a minute without intense pain.  After practicing regularly, I was able to carry her an entire mile without pain.”


Bikram Yoga Full Locust
Sarah Cook in Full Locust Pose, November 2016

Year 3:

“I recently went through a Candida overgrowth and hormone imbalance.  I treated it with a massive change in my diet, and that was very difficult.  I had a lot of anxiety and depression as a result of making these changes so quickly.  Practicing Bikram Yoga not only helped my hormones balance out quicker, but it made it possible for me to take a complete break from the stress and cost of meal planning and preparation.

“Despite my asthma, my lung capacity has always been slightly above average (111% before yoga).  But now, 3 years into yoga, it has increased to 116%.”

September 2017:

“As an adult I have always been 5 foot 3 and 3/4.  At my check-up last week I was 5 foot 4 and 1/2 inch.  At my check-up this month, the nurses looked at my chart and could not figure out what was going on!”


All we are doing is the not-at-all-secret secret of a regular Bikram Yoga practice.  Feel free to share the goodness and healing with anyone who might need a little boost.