Alignment and technique. After seven seasons as a professional soccer player and countless years practicing yoga, I recently came to the realization of how dependent my technique is on proper body alignment.
Wrapping up the 2022 season I had residual mobility issues in both my ankles. I dealt with it – but when I started to do extra technical work I realized there were parts of the training I physically could not do. My touch would be poor because my ankles were incapable of moving the way I needed them to.
I also have had hip impingement for years. I was down in Florida for offseason training and I couldn’t do an outside of the foot touch on my right side. My leg couldn’t move the way I needed it to.
The technical work was bringing into focus the limitations of my game that were the result of my body (hips, knees, and ankles) being misaligned.
Enter Stefano Allegri.
Stefano moved to Costa Rica from Italy where he first started practicing Asana Yoga. The passion for union between opposite energies brought Stefano to his first teacher training in Ubud, Bali in 2003 with master Luise Serss. In 2005, he travelled to India where his Mysore and Ashtanga studies unfolded with Sre. K. P. Jois. Since then, he has spent time in California and Colorado practicing and learning from Master Tim Miller and Master Richard Freeman. In 2013, Stefano returned to India, to go deeper with one of the most recognized yoga masters in the world, Mathew Sweeney.
I did my first yoga class with Stefano on January 1st. The 2 hr class was profound and his mastery as a teacher was literally a game changer for me. Through his emphasis on proper alignment I was able to pay attention to my body in new ways. The constant gentle and light hearted reminders – “no banana ankles,” “tuck in your Kardashian” “like a shish kebab” – were really resonating with me. The sequences opened up, strengthened and aligned every inch of my body.
Five yoga classes in, I asked my sister to help me do some foot work at a local field. My outside of the foot touches were significantly better – faster, cleaner. My ankles weren’t letting me down. Now for the real test, I tried an outside of the foot volley with my right foot. A technique I haven’t been able to do for years. It wasn’t quite perfect but it was a drastic improvement. I had the strength and mobility I needed for proper form, or at least enough of an improvement to see the potential. In one week in my body and the technical aspect of my game had changed.
I am hooked. I have a new perspective on the value of yoga as a professional athlete and I am grateful to Stefano for preparing me for the 2023 season.