Hayley Winter, delivering a Yoga and Recovery Session to the Women's Soccer Team at the University of New Mexico.
About Hayley Winter
For the past 30 years, Hayley Winter has taught yoga, worked as a Yoga Sports Scientist, an elite movement consultant, yoga educator, an international lecturer and founder of
The Institute of Yoga Sports Science®.
Hayley was born with a Clubfoot. This could have led her to a life of compromised and limited movement. Instead, it inspired her to explore the boundless possibilities of human movement and performance potential.
Hayley understood that movement was something not to be taken for granted and that every movement should count. Her early appreciation of movement at an early lead her to become a dancer, but in her early twenties, she suffered an injury that put a stop to her professional career.
'At first, I thought Yoga was slow and boring...'
On the recommendation of a friend, she took a yoga class. Hayley said, ‘I disliked it at first. I thought yoga was slow and boring. I had been used to strong, fast and dynamic movements that challenged my body daily. Yoga seemed like a waste of time, until about 3 weeks after my first class. I started to feel less pain and begin to get my strength and agility back’. This was the start of her life-long journey of researching the benefits of yoga. She has never looked back.
Yoga is the Missing Link in Athletic Training
Twenty years ago Hayley first started to make connections between yoga and its benefits to athletes. When the English Institute of Sport invited her to work with an athlete in their performance environment, she began to realize yoga was the missing link in strength and conditioning training.
As a result, she spent the next 10 years working with athletes and their coaches, from the English Football Association to Performance Directors with the British Olympic Association. She has worked with athletes of all ages and abilities across many different sports. It was during this time that she developed Yoga Sports Science®, (YSS), and the Yoga Sports Coaching™ Courses providing world-class sports-specific yoga education to yoga, healthcare and fitness professionals.
Professional Yoga Education
Hayley developed the syllabus for the Science of Teaching Yoga for Athletes, the YSS Yoga Sports Coach™ Course and the YSS Advanced Training because there was nothing that linked yoga and sport into education and provided yoga teachers and healthcare professionals with a qualification that would give them career opportunities in both the world of yoga and in sport.
She had a vision that has evolved Yoga Sports Science®, to becoming the Institute of Yoga Sports Science® where modern sports science approaches are united with the authentic science of yoga, enhancing athletic performance.
Hayley’s quest to prove that the science of modern-day yoga could improve athletic performance lead her to study a Masters in Applied Sports and Exercise Biomechanics at Roehampton University in London. It was during her time in the biomechanics labs that the Yoga Sports Science® Research Method emerged.
Hayley understood that if an athlete incorporated sport-specific yoga into their regular training program, their performance would benefit. The problem was how to prove it.
Proving Yoga Works
The perceptions she encountered with athletes and coaches was they thought they needed to be flexible in order to ‘do’ yoga. That it was mainly practiced by women wearing purple lycra and there were not enough stats on yoga to prove its efficacy.
Hayley began to explore this problem with her colleague Dr. Maggie Bunting at the University of East Anglia in the UK. The research problem was to try and find a way to collect data in the athlete’s natural setting without interrupting their experience of yoga. The other issue was to analyze and present credible data for athletes and their support teams to review enabling them to make an informed choice regarding incorporating sports-specific yoga techniques into their training.
They hypothesized that incorporating sports-specific yoga techniques into an athlete’s training program would lead to improved performance by that athlete and a reduction in injury. As scientists, they needed to evaluate this hypothesis, which meant undertaking a systematic evaluation. They adopted a case study research method approach, which has been incorporated into the Yoga Sports Science® Course syllabus since 2009 and is still being conducted today with students worldwide who train with Hayley and her team of global experts.
Today the Institute of Yoga Sports Science® has one of the largest research databases in the world on the efficacy of yoga to improve athletic performance, with Yoga Sports Coaches™ in 14 different countries delivering sports-specific yoga to athletes in their communities.
Physiotherapists that train with Hayley, use the Yoga Sports Science® methods in their clinical practices.
The Future of Yoga for An Aging Population
The Institute of Yoga Sports Science® is an accredited yoga school with the Yoga Alliance with its campus at Eastern Athletic Club, Brooklyn Heights, New York.
Hayley has applied her unique approach using the science of yoga to help people improve their everyday performance needs.
People attending Hayley’s sessions have shared concerns about loss of balance, living with muscular pain and discomfort. They wanted to feel more energized; feel stronger and experience greater agility. To have more control and confidence in how they moved. To manage stress. To sleep better. To have greater concentration and retention of memory. To have performance strategies to survive and thrive in city living.
As a Yoga Sports Scientist Hayley has helped athletes achieve marginal performance gains that mean the difference between winning and losing. Helping an athlete get 1% increase in their performance takes them from being a silver medalist to winning gold.
Within a short time of taking Hayley’s sessions, clients who had been regularly attending shared some remarkable results. Reports of no more pain. Improved balance, coordination, and concentration. An increase in general health and well-being. The performance gains made by these regular yoga practitioners were not marginal, but significant and in some cases, life-changing.
Compliance Through Science
Hayley believes that one of the most significant reasons for the dramatic success she has had with both professional athletes and the general public is that people learn about the application of the science of yoga with their own bodies.
She also believes that a person's understanding of the underlying science dramatically impacts rates of compliance. People that regularly apply these simple techniques to their life, get the results. They feel empowered by their participation in applying the scientific methods of focused yoga.
Supporting the Development of Yoga
The British Wheel of Yoga (BWY): Hayley has supported the BWY in the UK in the development of their online yoga education. The Institute of Yoga Sports Science® also supporting the BWY by providing specialist The Science of Teaching Yoga for Athletes as a module.
The Yoga Alliance: In 2019, Hayley was invited to join an experts advisory group as part of the Yoga Alliance Standards Review Project to examine how online learning can define and preserve the quality and safety of yoga education and practice worldwide at a time when learning online is ubiquitous in today’s society. The Science of Teaching Yoga for Athletes is a Continuing Educational Credit with the Yoga Alliance.
If you're interested in leading a Yoga Sports Science® training or workshop at your studio.
British-born, Hayley Winter, founder of
The Institute of Yoga Sports Science®
based at Eastern Athletic Club,
Brooklyn Heights, New York.
Hayley, with one of her students, Kate Crouch, who now works as a Yoga Sports Coach™ at Cambridge University Sports center, in the UK.
Hayley delivering a Yoga Sports Science® lecture at CamYoga in Cambridge, UK.
Penn State University Lecturer, Lori Gravish, shares her comments on a Yoga Sports Science® lecture and workshop delivered to Kinesiolgy students by Hayley Winter.
Hayley and William Broad, Author of 'The Science of Yoga: the Risks and Rewards' and Senior Science Writer at the New York Times, talk about the future of yoga is science based
Hayley teaching in the Yoga Studio at Eastern Athletic Club, Brooklyn Heights, New York.
Hayley back on the soccer pitch in Brooklyn,
New York. It was her experience working in English football where she began to develop the Yoga Sports Science® Methodology.
Hayley is currently supporting a one-off global campaign around the issue of homeless and displaced families around the world.