Heidelberg United’s Westfield FFA Cup star – and yoga teacher – Daniel Vasilevski hopes one day all elite Australian clubs will use yoga as part of their players’ weekly routine.
Vasilevski is a yoga convert. With his fiancée the attacking midfielder plans to set up his own yoga studio after taking it up seriously about a year ago.
And the former VIS and Melbourne Victory player, who turns 34 in September, believes he can show elite clubs the benefit of yoga in their weekly recovery and preparation routines.
“I absolutely love it. And I also teach it. My fiancée and I both teach... we hire out a studio space and teach at a major gym,” he told www.theffacup.com.au.
“I was always looking for a practice that would get me more flexible and help with my football as well. So I came across yoga and it did a lot more than help me become more flexible.
“It helped with the mental side of it. That really appeals to me. Until I started committing to my [yoga] practice I was getting quite a few soft tissue injuries throughout my career. Ever since I started consistently doing yoga I’ve had one or two, which is incredible.
“It’s getting very big in the English Premier League actually and slowly starting to come into Australia. In the EPL they do have yoga teachers at certain clubs, such as Manchester United.
“And the results are phenomenal. If you look at Ryan Giggs and other players, he played well into his 40s"
Pro clubs are already starting to show interest in the idea of regular sessions. And Vasilevski and his partner want to open up their own studio one day as well as bringing yoga to professional football clubs.
“So that’s the plan,” he says of his vision of marrying his yoga with the A-League. “I’m trying to design a sequence that’s appealing to footballers.”
Vasilevski is also a pescatarian and a Buddhist. Perhaps not the average profile of a footballer but for him it’s working as he eyes the rest of his life post-playing football.
“I started practicing Buddhism at the end of last year and it’s really helped me with a lot of things. I do attend teachings on a regular basis and I do try to approach life in a Buddhist way.
“It’s a way of thinking where you help yourself. And sort of analyse yourself and you explore your own mind. It’s you helping yourself.”
Meanwhile, Vasilevski is looking ahead to Wednedsay night’s big Westfield FFA Cup against Sydney United in the Round of 16.
“I played a full game on the weekend and Wednesday night is massive. And the FFA Cup is tremendous. Watching Victorian teams last year and watching the fans, I didn’t expect it to be so big.
"Everyone is buzzing for it, kids and adults... everyone is just really into the FFA Cup.
He added: “I love football, and it’ll always be in my blood. But at the moment I’m heading down the yoga path but I do want to help develop younger players too, getting them into good habits and educating them about more than just football.
“If I’d had a bit more of a holistic approach to my football and fitness it would’ve really helped.”
** For any goal scored by an amateur or semi-professional club against a Hyundai A-League team during the Westfield FFA Cup, NAB will kick-back $2,500 to the goal-scorer's club.