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Last Updated: Monday, 10 November, 2003, 16:13 GMT
Did yoga help Welsh team?
By Amanda Powell
BBC News Online

Louise Noyes in lotus position
Louise has just qualified as a fully-fledged yoga teacher
After their stunning performance against England in the Rugby World Cup on Sunday, the yoga teacher who coached the Wales squad says she feels her techniques made a difference.

Louise Noyes from Barry in south Wales, led seven yoga sessions with the squad, and said she felt immensely proud watching their stirring performance against New Zealand before a noble loss to England on Sunday.

In the run-up to the World Cup, Louise had concentrated on trying to improve the players' breathing; stretching their hamstrings and making their hips and shoulders more flexible.

She had been brought in at the request of the Wales fitness coach, Andrew Hore, and said that she worked hard to show the players why yoga would be relevant to their game.

"I showed them that yoga isn't all breathe and wave - that it's very applicable to the sports world...that we can, given time, help improve their breathing on the pitch and we can help with all their movements."

Celebrities like Madonna and Sting have helped make yoga more popular - but Louise admits that at first she had to shake off the players' cynicism.

"I felt that by the end of the sessions, I had won their respect," she said, adding that she adapted her classes to suit the needs of 25 burly rugby players.

"They got shouted at. They didn't get any nice music, they didn't get any relaxation.

Wales player Dafydd Jones
The yoga teacher aimed to improve the players' flexibility and breathing

"I was just trying to get movement into their hips and shoulders - it was very interesting how tight they were.

"Andrew Hore, their fitness coach had told me that a lot of them had done weights programmes without being monitored, so they had ended up building up the wrong muscles."

Her final piece of advice to the squad was to stretch out thoroughly before they played.

"I said 'do something about the hamstrings - put your legs on a windowsill and get length in the back of the legs to help counteract all the running you do'.

"'The tighter you get, the more prone to injury you are - especially in the knee and groin area.'"

After "shrieking in the living room" while watching the game in the morning, Louise had a challenge of her own on Sunday evening.

She had her final examination to qualify as a teacher with the British Wheel of Yoga - and passed with flying colours.

She is now hoping that she can continue teaching yoga to the Wales squad as they prepare for the Six Nations championship.

Yoga aids the hard sell
18 Jan 03  |  Health
The tyranny of yoga
09 Oct 03  |  Magazine

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