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Buccaneers players using yoga to prepare for the NFL season

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There are countless ways through which NFL players prepare for an upcoming season, and the options range from the traditional to the newly unique. For several members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this prep now involves practicing yoga.

Bucs defensive ends Robert Ayers and Noah Spence were among the 10 players either currently playing in the NFL or currently  on league rosters who took part in a yoga class this week at Performance Compound on Gandy Boulevard in south Tampa.

Ayers, 30, says he’s been using yoga for years, going back to his time with the New York Giants.

“I do it every offseason to work on my flexibility, my mobility, my core, my stability,” said the new Bucs end, via the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m not extreme, but I like it. If you want to do things, performance-wise, it’s not just about lifting weights and running fast and bench-pressing and pushing sleds.”

Both Ayers and Spence noted the ways in which they have to contort their bodies as defensive ends is helped by practicing yoga, which helps with balance in obviously awkward positions.

“When I’m trying to turn the edge, if someone’s pushing me, I don’t want to fall easy,” said Ayers. “You turn your hips, you flip your feet and stay balanced the whole time. I need to stay strong, to fight resistance, to be flexible, and this helps with all that.”

Spence, drafted by the Bucs in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft with the 39th overall pick, is a relative newcomer to yoga. But he believes he’s already reaping the benefits.

“It helps me strengthen my hands and my hips, and it really helps being flexible when I’m trying to get around an offensive lineman,” he said. “I’m getting better at it. I slip sometimes but it’s like any other thing: You get better as you go.”

Vernon Hargreaves, Chris Conte, Keith Tandy, Adarius Glanton and Jameis Winston are among the Bucs players who have also tried yoga.

If these Buccaneers players have successful years next season, expect other Bucs players — not to mention fellow members of the NFL fraternity — to follow suit.