TEAM SanFrancisco 49ers
HEIGHT 6 feet
When Parrishbegan practicing yoga in intense heat, he saw others faint. No sweat. Hepersevered--and honed one of the NFL's strongest cores
"THE FIRSTCLASS was hard--I've never been in a room so hot for so long," says TonyParrish, about his introduction three months ago to Bikram yoga, in whichstudents assume 26 poses in 90 minutes in a room heated to 110° to promoteflexibility. Parrish stuck with it, and hot yoga became a staple of his coretraining regimen. "We tend to bend forward on the field but never do anyreal backward stretching to counteract that," he says. "To get into andhold each [yoga] position works your abs. My lower back and spine have alsogotten stronger and more flexible."
Until the startof training camp, Parrish practiced three times a week at the Bikram Yogacenter in Santa Clara, Calif. "I kept coming and got accustomed to it,"he says. Parrish, who broke his left ankle and fibula in a game against theBears last November, says yoga helps him "trust" the injured leg,delivers a "great aerobic workout"--and builds his core: "I had absthat looked decent but weren't strong. Now there's strength behind them."Here he demonstrates seven poses, breathing evenly through the nose (exceptwhen specified otherwise). In trying these exercises, stick to form as closelyas possible. Abhinav Sagar, a teacher at the center, describes the benefits ofthe poses, which are particular to the Bikram philosophy.
POSTURE Feetshould be hip distance apart, heels raised, arms straight out, palms down.Squat as if sitting in a chair. Hold for 10 counts, return to startingposition. Repeat. ABHINAV SAGAR: "You engage your core for balance. Alsostrengthens thighs and calves and opens hip flexors."
POSTURE Lie onbelly with chin on mat. Put arms underneath body, palms on floor. Raise rightleg as high as you can, behind you. Hold for 10 counts. Return to startingposition and switch legs. Return to starting position and raise both legs andhips off floor as high as you can (as shown) and hold for 10 counts. Lower legsand rest on stomach. 20 seconds, face to one side. Repeat all three positions.SAGAR: "This increases flexibility in the spine and stretches yourabdominals."
POSTURE Standingwith feet together, raise arms straight up and clasp hands with index fingerspointing up. Step left foot forward two feet, keeping it straight. Point rightfoot behind you, keeping foot on floor. Bend forward until chest and arms areparallel to floor while also raising right leg behind you until parallel tofloor, making a T with body. Hold for 10 counts, return to start position,switch legs. Do two times, each side. SAGAR: "You primarily engage yourabdomen in this pose, as well as all your leg muscles. You also develop muscletone in the shoulders."
POSTURE Stand straight, feet parallel and touching. Interlace fingers and placeknuckles under chin with elbows together. Slowly inhale through nose for sixcounts while raising elbows toward ears. Exhale through mouth, dropping headback, and bring elbows together pointing straight ahead for six counts. Twosets of 10 reps. SAGAR: "It expands the lungs and increases circulation,preparing the body for the movements ahead."
POSTURE Standingwith feet together, raise arms straight up and clasp hands with index fingerspointing up. Push hips left and bend to right, extending left side from hip toarmpit. Hold for five counts. Return to center and repeat, bending to left.Return to center, drop head back, arms behind you, hands still clasped and bendbackward as far as you can. SAGAR: "The side bend is good for yourobliques; the back bend increases flexibility in the spine."
Standing Head toKnee
POSTURE Liftright leg straight out in front of body, parallel to floor. Interlace fingersand hold under ball of foot. Lean forward, bend elbows and rest forehead onshin. Hold for 10 counts, return to start position and switch legs. Repeat.SAGAR: "You really have to suck in your stomach to get into and hold thisforward bend. You engage your core muscles throughout the pose, and it alsoworks your hamstrings."
POSTURE Stand onleft leg, bend right leg behind. Grasp instep of right foot with right hand.Extend left arm straight out. Bend forward until abdomen and arm are parallelto the floor. At the same time kick right leg straight up behind you. Hold for10 counts, return to start position. Switch legs. Repeat. SAGAR: "Firms theabdominal wall, strengthens the lower spine and opens hip flexors. Alsopromotes general alignment in the body."
See more of Parrish's poses now and get expandedcoverage of SI's core training series in the coming weeks, atSI.com/players.
Feeding The Fire
Parrish doesn't stick to a strict schedule, but hedoes eat every three to four hours--and he has a definite sweet tooth. Here's asample of his typical meals.
BREAKFAST One bowl of hot cinnamon oatmeal or one bowlof cold Quaker Oats cereal but with water instead of milk. "I don't reallylike dairy," says Parrish, "except for cheese."
LATE BREAKFAST Six to eight egg whites. A handful ofgrapes or slices of pineapple.
LUNCH Green salad with Italian vinaigrette. Eitherchicken or turkey breast, salmon, sea bass or mahimahi off the grill. "I'ma huge barbecue guy," says Parrish. "Whatever you take straight off thegrill, I'll eat."
DINNER Penne with pesto sauce and parmesan cheese. Ora 10-ounce New York strip steak with either white or brown rice or a bakedsweet potato. Sometimes a green salad as well.
DRINKS Raspberry iced tea or pineapple, guava or applejuice. "I'm a juice guy--no soda," says Parrish. "Since preschoolwhen I would get apple juice and graham crackers for a snack, I have beenhooked."
SNACKS Red Vines licorice, Smoothie Mix Skittles,tropical Starburst or raspberry sorbet.
DESSERTS Apple pie or bread pudding. "If I havedessert, I always eat it before my meal," says Parrish, who doesn't eatchocolate. "Otherwise it usually feels too rich to me. I'll feel sick forthe rest of the night."
Next Week, Part 2 Rookie tight end Vernon Davis's coreregimen, which relies on resistance training, paid off on draft day.
Photographs by Robert Beck
FOODPIX (MILK); MICHAEL WESCHLER/CORBIS (EGGS); SCOTT PETERSON/FOODPIX/GETTY IMAGES (GRAPES); IMAGE SOURCE/GETTY IMAGES (PINEAPPLE)