In a recent article in the Observer, Andy Murray has credited his Bikram Yoga practice for much of his improved performance over the last few years. Currently ranked number 2 in the world, Murray is the British No.1, reigning US Open, Wimbledon and Olympic Singles Champion. He believes that practicing the 26 postures has transformed him both physically and mentally, helping him to compete at the very highest levels.
Murray remarked on the intensity of the Bikram Series: “Until you do it you can’t comment on how difficult it is. It’s tough. It’s ugly.” It’s also effective as Murray’s titles prove.
The 26-year-old from Dunblane started practising Bikram six years ago after it was recommended by his conditioning coach, Matt Little. A number of tennis players have since followed him into the hot room, including the British No 2, Laura Robson. Serena Williams also practices Bikram Yoga and Pilates two to three times a week.
London’s Hot Bikram Yoga School studio director Olga Allon – who trained Murray – said it had been “pivotal” for the champion. “We built up a very strong relationship. It was a turning point in the way he trained. It helped improve his flexibility and helped to balance his body, which is very important for a tennis player.”
Additionally, she commented that practising Bikram had also helped Murray mentally. The player has done a much better job of controlling his famous fiery temper in recent years, as well as having the crucial self-belief to clinch victories. “The mental aspect is incredibly helpful for Andy Murray and other athletes, because they learn to stay incredibly focused, which is hard, especially when you are learning to breathe in difficult postures like standing on one leg.”
Sports therapist Michael Cole, of Starinjuries.com, is among the fans of Bikram Yoga. “I imagine Andy Murray uses it as much to help him recover as anything else. “Stretching can help to clear waste products from muscles. Heat also adds a psychological element. If as an élite athlete it makes you feel better psychologically, then that’s no bad thing.”
6.30am Beach running – if he is at his Miami training camp.
7.30am Breakfast of protein shake, yoghurt and bagel with peanut butter.
9.30am Hitting practice on court with friend Dani Vallverdu.
11am Snack of protein bars and shakes.
11.30am 90-minute Bikram yoga session to build strength and stamina.
1pm Two hours before matches, he loads up on pasta and chicken.
3pm While away from tournaments, Jez Green puts Murray through a gym routine of strength and cardio workouts, including a series of 400m sprint and recovery sessions.
4pm After a match Murray will have fruit and yoghurt and top that up with protein bars and shakes.
7pm Murray wolfs down 50 pieces of sushi.