While many of us may be tracking the progress of the Golden State Warriors on the court, Yoga Teacher Dana Kraft is also tracking the players’ process on the yoga mat. Dana has been teaching yoga to members of the Golden State Warriors since the Summer of 2015. She moved out to California from New York to work with the team. Colleagues recommended her and she was hired because she studied the team roster to make suggestions for practices that addressed each player individually and as a group.
Dana currently lives, teaches, and leads yoga teacher training programs in Los Angeles, she travels to the Warriors home of Oakland (depending on the team’s schedule) throughout the Summer, Fall, and Winter where she is one of the few women in the training facility. She combines her background in education (before she made the full-time commitment to yoga, Dana was a high school teacher) with an intensive study of anatomy and a willingness to meet the players on their own court. After all, training elite athletes gives new meaning to thinking outside the box—well, the mat—since the basketball players are taller than the average yogi and since many of them may be sporting injuries, Dana is frequently reaching into her own playbook to modify poses.
Some of the players were a bit shy about taking up the practice, while others were eager to roll out a mat. Yet Dana comments on the fantastic growth in the players’ practice. In sessions, she develops something specific for each student. “It’s not just vinyasa or power flow,” she says as she remembers leading a sequence completely on the floor for a player with an ankle injury. Dana incorporates creative sequencing and that relies on props such as Yoga Tune Up balls.
Dana Kraft training Golden State Warriors Player Festus Ezeli
Training the Warriors has affected her own practice. Yoga teacher Dana Kraft says she has experienced a level of humility working with elite athletes whose job is to work out, who go from trainer to coach to court and who are constantly being watched, scouted, or even traded. Dana has also noted her students’ ability to have the heightened awareness and physical proprioception needed to compete at that level and to be an advanced practitioner of yoga. As a result, she says, “The ability to have awareness and proprioception has become my advanced practice.”
For more information about Dana Kraft, visit www.danakraftyoga.com