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Striking a pose

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks
Saturday night at Rogers Arena the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Calgary Flames and after the final horn, Alex Burrows dropped the gloves.

A day later, standing in almost the same spot as 24 hours earlier, he dropped the stress.

Burrows was one of six players who took part in Yoga on Ice, the brainchild of Canucks forward Shawn Matthias; more than 300 people took part in the event raising roughly $9,000 for the Canucks for Kids Fund.

The idea came to Matthias after discussing something similar with friend Guillaume Viau back in Toronto last summer and thanks to support from Lululemon and the Canucks, his dream quickly became a reality.

“I’m overwhelmed,” smiled Matthias after the 60-minute class, led by instructor Alex Mazerolle. “For this to go from an idea to this amazing event, with such a great turnout, really makes me happy. And I can’t say enough about my teammates joining in. I brought it up in the room and these guys were all about it.”

Bo Horvat, Luca Sbisa, Zack Kassian, Yannick Weber, Burrows and Matthias were the Canucks who got bendy and they were equally exhausted when it was over.

Does yoga have a place within hockey?

“I can see how it would benefit a hockey player, but you’d have to scale it down a bit, we couldn’t do it every day like some people do, but every now and then would be great," said Matthias.

“I do feel good. Stretching out some of those tight muscles is beneficial; it was funny to see in class how some people are way far ahead of others, it would be cool to see how far I could push it to get good, more so when I’m done playing hockey.”

Zack Kassian may not be on the same page in terms of pursuing yoga after hockey – or ever again, for that matter.

“I’m not very big into yoga,” laughed Kassian. “There were a couple of tough stretches there, but somehow I managed to get by. People might think it’s a walk in the park, but it’s very tight on your muscles, especially if you’re a tight person.”

Kassian never knew a dog could be downward, a crocodile was more than reptile, that children have their own pose, or that half moon didn’t involve showing someone his rump.

He’s been enlightened. And according to instructor Alex Mazerolle, the benefits of the spiritual discipline are never-ending.

“All athletes should be doing yoga as a counter balance to everything they’re doing. Getting them stretching and breathing and to help with nerves and focus, healing injuries and preventing injuries. I think this is a really powerful form of balance for them.”

If the Canucks, who departed for Nashville Monday, have a successful road trip, expect the next team building exercise to involve a healthy dose of yoga.

Click here to view a gallery of the event, shot by Devin Manky.

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