Hundreds of yogis and Ravens fans alike spread their mats and bodies under the bright lights of the Mustang Arena at Stevenson University recently for a charity yoga class to support Ravens running back Ricky Williams' foundation.
His purple jersey reads No. 34, and 34-year old Williams is best known as the Ravens running back, but many fans don’t know that he is a dedicated yoga practitioner. He used yoga to help him conquer his troubles with drugs, detailed in this video. His pro-football status may attract people to charity events like this one, but his dedication to yoga is what participants in the room appreciated most.
“I was surprised that he was so humble despite what he does for a living. He’s a big tough football player, but he had a kind, gentle presence about him,” said yoga teacher Michelle Cagan, who attended the event. Cagan also won an autographed football in the charity’s raffle that she had Williams sign to her husband Ben.
Surprisingly, Williams is soft-spoken. Even though he used a microphone, his voice was soothing and almost quiet. He started students in corpse pose savasana, then led them through a session of scull shining breath Kapalabhati pranayama, a few postures and a guided mediation. The 90-minute class included mostly meditation and relaxation techiniques.
After class, Williams mingled with students, took photos and talked to everyone in the main arena while owner and chef Daniela Troia served raw chocolate brownies and chickpea soup in the main lobby.
Tickets cost $100 and donations went directly to The Ricky Williams Foundation, which organizes and provides services that promote health and fitness to people in low-income communities. Ricky’s Kids is a part of the foundation that works specifically with youth to provide mentoring and community support.
Williams is a certified yoga teacher, as well as a Heisman Trophy winner. He said he practices Sivananda Yoga twice a week during the football season, and five days a week during the off-season.
Future events for the Ricky Williams Foundation can be found on the charity's website.