Jan 5, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph (24) and Kareem Johnson (25) celebrate after an incomplete pass against the Cincinnati Bengals in an AFC wild card playoff game at Reliant Stadium. The Texans defeated the Bengals 19-13. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Johnathan Joseph and offseason yoga

When it comes to the NFL and toughness, that is expected to go hand-and-hand, but yoga and the NFL … not so much.

But with today’s athletes using a variety of ways to improve their athletic prowess, Houston Texans defensive back Johnathan Joseph has added a new way to prepare for the NFL season in his training … yoga.

Joseph, a former player for the Cincinnati Bengals, added the new training regimen this offseason, saying he’s not done yoga since ’09.

Last season, in 14 games, Joseph totaled 57 tackles and two interceptions (one for a touchdown). Of his 57 tackles, 52 were solo. He also had 11 passes defensed. For his career, Joseph has 20 interceptions, four for touchdowns.

“I kind of got away from it, but this year I said I was going to pick it up because I wanted something to push my body in a different way,” he said. “It can only help me if I go in there. I think I took about four different types of yoga classes with different kinds of stretches and things to help my mobility, my joints and shoulders to have more flexibility and range of motion.”

The starting defensive back of the Texas explained it as “being weird” the first time he walked into yoga classes.

“It was weird because there weren’t many guys like me in there,” Joseph said. “Most people were in their thirties or forties. It would start at eight in the morning. Sometimes I went back-to-back some days where it would be an hour and 50 minutes straight.

“For me, it was a struggle. It was new to me, some of the moves and things like that but they talked me through it and helped me out each and every day.”

Joseph said he continues to train with yoga on his own.

“I went to the training staff and told them I needed a couple stretching bands,” the defensive back said. “When I left the yoga class, I asked the ladies there if they could give me some stretches to take with me to help me on a daily basis. They gave me some stretches that can help.”

It was Joseph’s wife who told the instructors he was a professional athlete.

“Yeah, my wife told them that,” he said. “I wasn’t going to tell them, but my wife told them. They stayed on me a lot and pushed me in the class, and I think it helped me out a lot.”

Still, with the new exercise a part of his game, Joseph said it has helped him as a cornerback.

“I think it helps a lot,” he said. “I’m big into stretching now. I wasn’t a big stretcher before, but I worked it into my offseason regimen and everyday plan, and I think it helps a lot.”

Joseph didn’t have teammate and fellow defensive back Kareem Jackson partake in the yoga exercises this offseason.

“I didn’t take him,” Joseph said. “We train in different places, but I called him up on the phone and told him that he needed to try this yoga out.”

Speaking of Jackson, the cornerback duo of him and Joseph will be vital to the success of the Texans’ defense in ’13. To achieve that success, communication is key.

“Sometimes we communicate, just hand sign-language or whatever it may be,” Jackson said. “We’re definitely on the same page and have the same train of thought on every play, so I think that’s a plus for us.

“Him being a veteran, and you know me, kind of easing my way into being a veteran. We play together, so we like to be on the same page of what we do, so offseason we work out a little bit together.”

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