A Yogi in Sport: The Power of Stillness

Olympic Gold Medalist in Shooting, Peter Wilson: Courtesy of BBC Sport.

The word ‘sport’ conjures up images of athletes pushing, grunting sweating or panting in a bid to get faster, higher or stronger.

But some prize stillness – both in mind and body. I’m talking about the mental sports like pistol shooting or archery.

The arm pumping or leg lunging movements of sprinters or footballers are distilled into a slow, almost imperceptible squeeze of a trigger. It’s not about kilometres or even metres of movement but millimetres.

Maintaining this kind of physical stillness in the heat of competition requires serious mental control. The heart is pumping but adrenaline is the enemy.

A raised heart rate may cause a slight shift in arm position but also a momentary mental drift and the focus is lost.

I’ve worked with a few pistol shooters and the zen-like state they aim to reach is remarkably similar to that of meditation, so yoga is a great ally.