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! 

Ann Chrapkiewicz Representing Michigan at USA Yoga National Championships

yoga national championship standing head to knee USA Yoga Midwest Regional 2017 Chicago

East Lansing, Michigan – July 21, 2017 –

Ann Chrapkiewicz – Lansing-area yoga practitioner and native of Dearborn, Michigan – will represent the state of Michigan in this year’s USA Yoga National Championship.   Ann took 3rd place in the MidWest SuperRegional Championships held in Chicago in May 2017, and 1st in the state of Michigan.

The national event will take place as part of the Meijer State Games of America on August 5 and 6, 2017, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Sixty sports are represented at the State Games – including bocce ball, archery, figure skating, swimming, and more.  Those interested in attending the event may find detailed information here.

What happens at the championship?

Invited athletes each have a maximum of three minutes to demonstrate a routine of six postures.  Each asana must be held in stillness for at least 5 seconds to attain maximum points.  In addition to technical details of posture form, participants score points if they demonstrate a range of strength, flexibility, and balance in their routines.

Video examples of qualifying routines can be found here.

Four of the postures come from compulsory categories (forward bend, backward bend, stretch, and twist).  Participants choose the two additional postures from a list of several dozen of varying difficulty.  For complete rules and championship structure, click HERE.

Who Participates?

Athletes from around the country qualified at one of four Super Regional championships.  Top scorers in each region were invited, as well as representatives from each state.  Links to the list of invitees, scores, and qualifiers can be found here.

In the senior category (50+), 14 men and 15 women will participate in the national championships.

In the Adult Men’s category (18-49), 29 athletes are scheduled.  And in the Adult Women’s category, 50 are scheduled.

There will also be 9 participants from the Youth Category (ages 11-17).

Click here for championship event information from USA Yoga and for links to event tickets.

Click here for the schedule and to see all of the states represented!

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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is USA Yoga?

USA Yoga is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and promoting Yoga Asana as a sport.  Rajashree Choudhury founded the organization to inspire youth to cultivate a yoga practice.  USA Yoga is not affiliated with any particular yoga school or tradition and seeks to include practitioners of all hatha yoga backgrounds.

Read more about its purposes and Rules structure here.

Are Asana championships competitive?

In yoga we learn that whatever we bring to a situation determines the nature of how we operate in that situation.  Many people see asana championships as competitive, but this is a limited way of seeing them.   B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the most well-known yogis in the past century, supported asana demonstrations and championships as a way to inspire others to take up a hatha yoga practice (read his letter of support here).

For more on Ann’s personal philosophy and the approach of many participants, read here.

Live Asana Demonstrations at the USA Yoga Mid West Super Regional Championships

Ann Half Spine Twist Cropped 2017 Mid West Chicago

East Lansing, Michigan – May 25, 2017 –

Three practitioners at Bikram Yoga Capital Area represented the state of Michigan in this year’s USA Yoga MidWest Super Regional Championships in Chicago, IL, this past weekend.

BYCA students Lauren Anastos, Lindsay Gray, and Ann Chrapkiewicz performed their routines with steadiness, focus, and calm.  They all had a very enjoyable, positive experience!  The best possible outcomes for all.  As a group, the three of them did not pressure themselves to “perform” or compete, nor to train beyond their capabilities.

They demonstrated the natural places in their yoga practice, as well as the emotional control needed to breathe normally, in stillness, on a stage, in yoga postures!

Check out their 3-minute, live, championship demonstrations, here:


Lindsay Gray, 40, of East Lansing – 3rd place Michigan

Click here to watch her live Super Regionals demonstration routine.

And here for her thoughtful blog about why she participated.

Lindsay Gray 2017 USA Yoga MidWest - Half Spine Twist

 


Lauren Anastos, 27, of Farmington Hills – 2nd place Michigan

Click here to watch her live Super Regionals demonstration routine.

And here for her inspiring blog about how yoga helps her long-distance running.

2017 Lauren Anastos USA Yoga MidWest Cow Face

 


Ann Chrapkiewicz, 38, of Dearborn and Okemos – 1st place Michigan

Click here to watch her live demonstration routine from the Super Regional event.

2017 Ann Chrapkiewicz USA Yoga MidWest Standing Bow Pulling

Ann received the 3rd highest score in the “Super Region”, and as the 1st place scorer from Michigan, Ann will proceed to the USA Yoga National Championships.

Stay tuned for more information on that event….coming soon!


View the full scoring results for the MidWest Super Regional event here.


Frequently Asked Questions:

What is USA Yoga?

USA Yoga is a non-profit organization dedicated to developing and promoting Yoga Asana as a sport.  Rajashree Choudhury founded the organization to inspire youth to cultivate a yoga practice.  USA Yoga is not affiliated with any particular yoga school or tradition and seeks to include practitioners of all hatha yoga backgrounds.

Read more about its purposes and Rules structure here.

Are Asana championships competitive?

In yoga we learn that whatever we bring to a situation determines the nature of how we operate in that situation.  Many people see asana championships as competitive, but this is a limited way of seeing them.   B.K.S. Iyengar, one of the most well-known yogis in the past century, supported asana demonstrations and championships as a way to inspire others to take up a hatha yoga practice (read his letter of support here).  For more on my personal philosophy and the approach of many participants, read here.

USA Yoga Participant Bio – Lauren Anastos

by Lauren Anastos

Running and Bikram Yoga

Almost four years ago, while long-distance training, I pulled a hamstring.  I continued to run on it and completed a marathon in Charlevoix in June 2013.

I struggled throughout the race due to the pain in my hamstring.  Also, despite my training, around mile 14 I had trouble breathing and needed to use an inhaler.  At the end of the race, the pain in my hamstring was so bad that I couldn’t bend my knee.  I had trouble walking over the next week both due to my leg as well as generalized soreness.

Six weeks after the race, my hamstring still hadn’t healed.  I still couldn’t flex my leg despite taking time to rest.  I also tried spinning, walking, stretching, and strength training, without any luck.  …

That’s when I found Bikram Yoga.

Within one week of practicing Bikram Yoga, the pain from my training and racing was 100% gone, and within one month, my mobility was completely restored!

Lauren in Bow Posture Variation – preparation for full backbending – BYCA – May 2017

I maintained a regular Bikram Yoga practice from 2013-2015. I felt so good that in July 2015 I started training for the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C.

I did the same race training as I had in 2013, but this time I made sure I practiced Bikram Yoga 2-3 times per week.  The results were amazing!!

I didn’t even feel tired until mile 25, and my breathing was smooth the entire time.  When I was done running, I didn’t feel any pain.

I walked two miles after the marathon to catch a cab, and I was fine.  The next day, I woke up and was amazed by the quick recovery – I could walk around just fine.

I was back for my yoga practice 3 days after the race, with a smile on my face!