Stumbling Onto Yoga Has been a Game-Changer for North Shore Player

November 6, 2015
Wilmette, IL

Whether it’s a stiff back, a sore knee, an achy hip, shoulder, or elbow, many of us have experienced some form of physical pain as a result of our passion for platform tennis. Fifty-year-old Harry Eschel is no exception.

The Series 12 player at Michigan Shores Club in Wilmette says he grew tired of nursing intermittent, nagging injuries to his knees and back, so he tried something different that’s turned into a new passion. Here, he describes his newfound devotion to yoga and how it can help improve your health, your life, and your paddle game.

APTA: How and when were you introduced to yoga?
HE: My doc had prescribed physical therapy, and the treatment for knee and back pain turned out to be building symmetrical strength and flexibility in my hips, hamstrings, legs, and core. I read a little about yoga being an excellent means of building whole-body flexibility and strength, and my wife, who had been practicing for years, suggested I give it a try.2015-yoga-750

APTA: So you just walked into a class one day?
HE: No, I was a little intimidated by that. I asked my next-door neighbor, who is an instructor at a local studio, to help me learn the basics through a couple of private lessons before going to a class. That early private instruction got me to my first class, and it didn’t take long to start noticing the changes in how my body felt and moved.

APTA: What are yoga’s main benefits for platform tennis players?
HE: Some of the unique elements of paddle tennis are that players are playing in cold temps where muscles can be tight and play includes short, bursty movements as well as bending deeply to dig balls out of the corner or cover a drop shot. All of these things can ask a lot of your hamstrings, calves, knees, ankles, and back. Yoga is excellent at building flexibility, strength, and balance in all of these areas to both help prevent injuries as well as improve performance.

And, of course, the aspects of yoga that teach mental focus and calm don’t hurt when you’re down in the third set and need to get back to just taking it one point at a time – although I’m still working on that.

APTA: But you didn’t stop there, did you? Now you are a certified yoga instructor, correct?
HE: I didn’t, and I am. But my interest in teacher training was exclusively about strengthening my own practice and had nothing to do with actually teaching. My studio promoted a teaching program that also offered the opportunity to study the meditative and philosophic components of yoga – which also interested me. So I signed up as part of a 50th birthday present.

APTA: Tell us about the class you began teaching this fall.
HE: My class is aimed at the beginner and advanced-beginner and is structured around poses that focus on flexibility through the hips and major leg muscles, strength in core and major leg muscles, and balance.

APTA: What about the charities involved.
HE: The proceeds from this workshop are going to two causes. One is a local cause, Umoja Student Development Corporation, and the other is an international cause, the Village of Los Santo School Cafeteria Fundraiser in Panama.

APTA: How’s the response been so far?
HE: The response has been great to the point that I’ve had several requests to continue the class beyond the original six weeks – which I will be doing.

APTA: How can someone join the next or future sessions?
HE: Anyone interested in checking it out may contact me or simply check the “Workshop” section of the Yogaview website to confirm the schedule. The first class is free and from there classes are simply pay-as-you-go by purchasing a package or the drop-in fee.

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