As rain pounded the Graham Fieldhouse Thursday morning, over 30 high school boys lay on the floor bowing on hands and knees to the open, garage-size door that overlooked the sopping wet practice field.

The boys weren't thanking the rain for coming to alleviate the drought that has persisted in Graham for the past few years. They were doing child's pose, one of the easier positions they tried during a 30-minute yoga workout.

“You actually work up a sweat whenever you do it,”  junior Bohner Cottongame said. “It gets a little tough. Start burning, start burning your muscles. It's not very fun, but after you feel pretty good.” 

Cottongame had never done yoga before, but he feels quicker and stronger on the field after doing yoga once a week since June 5.

Angie Hughes, mother of senior Hagan Hughes, runs the 7:30 a.m. yoga sessions. In the spring, Hughes started doing yoga with the Steers baseball team. The coaches then asked her to work with the high schoolers at the summer speed and strength camp.

Since the athletes spend a lot of time lifting weights, the muscles, especially in the back and shoulders, become tight. This makes it hard for the athletes to have a full range of motion on the field, Hughes said.

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Hughes, who has taught yoga for over five years, runs the high schoolers through exercises to help loosen and strengthen the muscles.

“If there's just a little bit more flexibility there, I think it prevents injuries,” she said. 

Senior Landon Gonzales, another first-time yoga participant, said his muscles were more relaxed during the recent 7 on 7 football tournament because of yoga.

But learning the different yoga poses and gaining flexibility has been a challenge.

Read the full story in this weekend's Graham Leader.