About Julie Downey,
Sports Performance & Yoga Specialist
- Julie Downey, Yoga Coach & Sports Performance Specialist
Hi, I’m Julie, and I’ve worked as the team yoga instructor for the Houston Rockets, the Houston Texans, the University of Houston and Rice Football and Baseball teams and many other College and High School sports teams.
In my ongoing work with sports teams and athlete’s I’ve realized there is an EPIC amount of injury in the sports industry and a profound need for the kind of high performance training secrets I provide.
My mission is to help YOU get the exact formula you need for dramatic increases in your speed and power, with less injury and I’ve created this website as your guide through that process.
Two major turning points led me to where I am today.
The first one was in 1999 when I was working full time as a massage therapist and I ended up with a severe neck and shoulder injury. I was drawn to yoga as a way to recover from that injury and in the process of practicing, studying and eventually teaching yoga, I became much stronger than before.
The second turning point was two summers ago when I reached a pivotal point; teaching over 16 classes a week, including 8 ‘Yoga for PE’ classes at local universities. That’s a lot of classes!
I had an epiphany and it became clear to me that even if I taught 25 classes a week, I would only reach a VERY small percentage of the people who so desperately need this information. If I didn’t make a change and offer my programs and materials online, only those students living in Houston would have access.
So, I’ve created this website as your HUB for gaining insider knowledge about how to gain speed, power, flexibility and endurance with LESS grueling exercise. And, I’m so glad you’re here to learn more!
Read below for my third person bio :).
Julie Downey has been teaching yoga in Houston since 2003. Her specialized instruction focuses on addressing the unique needs athletes have for increasing speed, strength, flexibility and stamina, while reducing the incidence of injury.
She received her teaching certification through Robert Boustany, and is registered with Yoga Alliance at the 500-hour level. She started practicing yoga in 1999 with Houston Iyengar Yoga studio.
In 2001, Julie took a class from Robert Boustany, and studied Pralaya yoga extensively with him for over eight years. She completed Robert’s intensive yearlong teacher training and certification program in 2003, and his 50 week advanced teacher training program in 2007. She has also spent several years and 1000′s of hours researching, studying and training with ‘high performance experts’, elite athletes and their coaches and trainers.
Julie offers specialized private and group yoga and qigong instruction at gyms, universities and corporations throughout Houston. She’s worked as the team yoga instructor for the Houston Rockets, the Houston Texans and various sports teams at University of Houston and Rice University including Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, Tennis, Track, Volleyball, and Swimming; training the players in yoga as a way to gain measurable increases in speed and power.
Read What My Athletes
“Your work this past summer really has paid dividends this camp, we went into the Houston game with all of our 2-deep roster injury free. That is a credit to our yoga / flexibility program this summer. I am looking forward to this winter off season and working again with you.”
And Coaches Have To Say
-Yancy McKnight, Assistant AD/Performance
Enhancement, Rice University
“I find it easier to get air at the end of a workout or game.”
I’ve noticed definite benefits in my athletic performance from pranayama and from breathing in twisting poses. Breathing against the forces of my own body in twists has strengthened my lungs and I find it easier to get air at the end of a workout or game. I’ve also found pranayama techniques useful for lowering my heart rate quickly in recovery periods. When I’m recovering from running a sprint and have only seconds until the next one, every breath counts. Slowing the heart rate also helps decrease fatigue and strain on the body during exercise. ~College Football Player
“Stabilizing muscles became much stronger allowing for more explosive movement on the court”
The fact that there is an exercise, besides lifting heavy weights to get stronger was surprising to me. What I noticed about yoga though is that not only does it help strengthen the muscles you use normally, but it also helps strengthen muscles that you didn’t even know you had. Stabilizing muscles, which are a necessity when playing basketball, become much stronger allowing for more explosive movement on the court. I also noticed that my flexibility has increased exponentially. With increased flexibility, the risk of muscle wear and tear is decreased and muscle fatigue also becomes less likely. In games, I felt so much more loose and my muscles stopped being sore after a workout. I have continued to extend my yoga practice outside of class because of its beneficial nature. ~College Basketball Player
“Since practicing breathing techniques, I’ve found myself less winded during even the most strenuous activities”
Pranayama has had a dramatic affect on the way I breathe throughout the day and on my cardiovascular fitness. After practicing pranayama in yoga I saw an immediate benefit everyday. I was able to breathe slower and deeper. I found this type of breathing relaxed me a great deal and helped me to clear my mind no matter what was going on at the time. Pranayama also led to immediate benefits in my cardiovascular fitness. As a Rugby player I run a great deal, but since practicing pranayama I’ve found myself less winded during even the most strenuous activities. I’ve also noticed that I need less recovery time between exercises. Pranayama is an excellent technique and I have benefitted from it immensely. ~College Rugby Player
“This increase in breathing ability has allowed me to slow down my breath and recuperate quicker allowing me to stay calm and not get the ridiculously painful headaches I used to get.”
In class we did a lot of breathing, also known as Pranayama, the practice of breathing. At first I could barely take a 15 second breath. However, after practicing I finally managed a 22 second breath. This increase in breathing ability has helped me in yoga poses because it calms you down when a pose is extremely difficult and it also has helped me in track practice. It has allowed me to slow down my breath and recuperate quicker allowing blood to flow throughout my body, helping me to stay calm and not get the ridiculously painful headaches I used to get. Overall, this practice of Pranayama has increased my breathing abilities and has helped me in and outside of yoga class. ~ Collegiate Runner
“I’ve shown my teammates some of the exercises to maximize mental performance and even they have taken notice at how it’s helped their overall physical ability on the court.”
Not only is yoga beneficial physically, but it also performs wonders both mentally and emotionally. It has relaxed me to the point where I focus on taking complete breaths before games to calm my nerves and to get rid of negative energy. This is especially important in basketball because it’s 90% mental. To be able to use yoga to maximize your mental performance is a very powerful tool. I’ve shown my teammates some of the exercises that were taught in class and even they have taken notice at how it’s helped their overall physical ability on the court. I’ve told my coaches that I think it would be great if we could get our whole team into a yoga class next semester and they thought very highly of the idea. ~College Basketball Player
“Yoga has greatly improved how I feel during and after baseball games”
This baseball season yoga has greatly improved how I feel during and after baseball games. The yoga we practice stresses improving the balance of strength in muscles. During class we find the weak areas and target them. As an athlete these weak areas tend to be weaker for a reason. Those muscles are weak because they are the muscles that are used the least during performance. This is not to be confused with the fact that they are not used, but that other muscles undergo most of the stress while playing. ~College Baseball Player
“The regular practice of down dog, and down dog variations as well as the numerous rotator cuff and elbow exercises have freed up my arm in ways I haven’t felt since I was much younger.”
Traditionally, I have played with a regular “soreness” in the back of my shoulder and the inside of my elbow after periods of extensive throwing. I never thought much of it, other than I threw a lot and my arm got tired when I throw. The regular practice of down dog, and down dog variations as well as the numerous rotator cuff and elbow exercises have freed up my arm in ways I haven’t felt since I was much younger. ~College Baseball Player
“The improvement in the range of motion in my hip joint as well as the overall feeling of strength and stability is remarkable.”
Not only do my hamstrings as well as my throwing arm feel great because of these specific poses, but the improvement in the range of motion in my hip joint as well as the overall feeling of strength and stability is remarkable as well. ~College Baseball Player
“I’ve become more focused and relaxed.”
Using many of the techniques I have learned in this class, I have found ways to relax this semester and have a quieter and easier mind. Especially with the stress levels involved with playing football, I’ve taken a step back at multiple times this year to quiet my mind and forget about the stress I have. This has helped me become much more focused and relaxed, and has let me enjoy the present more. ~College Football Player
“The whole goal of taking this class was to aid in the rehabilitation of my knee.”
The whole goal of taking this class was to aid in the rehabilitation of my knee. I sustained an injury to my knee that required surgery. To get back to the shape I wanted, I participated in the class to gain strength and balance. I truly feel that the yoga aided in my fast recovery and is one reason I am at the stage I am now. I will continue to practice some of these techniques to continue building more strength and balance for a better body overall. The experiences were good because I could see a steady improvement every class. ~ College Basketball Player
“I started this class with a tight back, hamstrings, hips, shoulders that rolled forward, all the attributes of a runner.”
I started this class with a tight back, hamstrings, hips, shoulders that rolled forward, all the attributes of a runner. I’ve really seen a change in my posture! My shoulders are not as hunched forward, I stand taller as well. My hamstrings and lower back problem have lessened greatly even though I lift weights twice a week. The moves such as binding moves have helped open up my hips. I can feel more movement now and notice when they are tighter since I have a new sensation of looseness to compare things to. I also can now manage my muscle tension more. I often use the moves to loosen my neck muscles when studying or when I wake up in the morning. I also have a better balance between my quadriceps muscles and my hamstrings. I’ve also noticed an improvement in my asthma. There were several days when I would have had problems at practice, when I didn’t seem to struggle. My breathing has also seemed to have improved in terms of taking longer breaths. On the mental side of things I feel I am more aware of the present or will realize when I get very caught up in my thoughts. The savasana/relaxation practice has made me more aware of my breathing and being present in the moment which is important in terms of just “living life”. ~Collegiate Runner
“Initially, I had a very hard time controlling my breathing.”
The practice of Pranayama breathing techniques during class has affected my breathing in certain ways. Initially, I had a very hard time controlling my breathing. Now I have improved and am able to inhale and exhale for almost 30 seconds. I’ve also found it helpful to breathe slowly and deeply when relaxing or prior to sleeping. The full breath really seems to release any tightness and relaxes my body. ~Collegiate Swimmer
“I now understand different exercises I can practice that can help strengthen my hips, improve my overall health, and allow me to relax in a deeper state of mind.”
I’ve used yoga in the past with baseball and in classes offered by different organizations. The other classes seemed to do a good job of stretching and balancing my body out, but they left me with many questions. This class has helped answer many of those questions and given me a deeper understanding of yoga and what these poses and techniques have to offer. I now understand different exercises I can practice that can help strengthen my hips, improve my overall health, and allow me to relax in a deeper sate of mind. Understanding these practices like never before will allow me to use them in my upcoming season, something I could not do previously because I didn’t fully understand what I was doing, and for that I am thankful. ~Bryan Price/Cleveland Indians
“I’m able to get through challenging medicine ball/core exercises with much more ease due to focusing on breathing.”
More specifically, as a collegiate swimmer, I am now able to apply what I’ve learned in class to the various non-yoga exercises we do in dry-land training outside of the water. I’m able to get through challenging medicine ball/core exercises with much more ease due to focusing on breathing, and I’ve realized how little I used to breathe when doing these exercises. Also, I am able to tap into this knowledge of pranayama when I am stressed out or generally anxious, and try to match the level of relaxation I leave each Yoga class with when I am studying or trying to relax. ~Collegiate Swimmer
“I work with the Rice Sports Medicine program as a student athletic trainer.”
While I’m not an athlete, I spend a majority of my time in the athletic world. I work with the Rice Sports Medicine program as a student athletic trainer. A large part of athletic training is acute rehabilitation of injuries and long term athlete care to prevent injuries. It is with this background that I walked into LPAP yoga at the beginning of the semester, and I have found that large sections of the yoga in this class are similar to rehabilitation exercises I have used in the training room.
Yoga and rehab both focus on strengthening weak areas of the body and use an approach that allows the individual to set his or her own level of difficulty. The emphasis on correct body position has been a characteristic of this yoga class that I feel is important for athletes. So often athletes, in an attempt to prove strength will sacrifice technique, which only exacerbates the problem.
The emphasis on technique in this yoga class is an important feature for athletes that can help remind them of good posture and technique in their respective sports. The ability of Functional Yoga Training to isolate small muscle groups is a great complement to the large muscle group workouts that athletes receive in the weight room.
Additionally, athletes focus primarily on strength and explosive power, leaving flexibility largely to the wayside. Most athletes I have seen who take yoga may be very strong, but their immobile joints and tight muscles prevent them from fully accessing their strength.
If asked for a primary recommendation about how yoga can help athletes, I would say that a focus on hip and low back flexibility would be greatly beneficial. Besides increasing flexibility, the attention to that area provided by Functional Yoga Training gives athletes a better sense of control over those muscles, allowing them to more fully activate them in hip-explosive activity.
Functional Yoga Training is by far the most useful style of yoga for athletes who are looking to improve their game because it focuses on technique and accessing the small muscle groups that are overpowered by larger muscle groups in other workouts and provides much needed flexibility to a demographic that overlooks the benefits of stretching.
Thank you for such an informative class.