Sports | March 30, 2020 9:07 am

Rising NFL Star Jaire Alexander Is Finding Solace in Yoga and Juggling

Alexander starts his day with a meditation session followed by yoga and spiritual reflection

Jaire Alexander practicing yoga
Jaire Alexander doing a yoga pose in a photo on Instagram. (IH/Instagram)

To stay sane and in shape during the NFL’s COVID-19 lockdown, one of the NFL’s youngest shutdown corners is turning to the downward dog. Each morning on the secluded Florida island where he is riding out the pandemic, Jaire Alexander of the Green Bay Packers starts his day with a meditation session followed by yoga and some spiritual reflection.

A second-team All-ACC player at Louisville, Alexander began doing yoga before he declared for the NFL draft in 2018. He says he learned about the practice while doing some research into Buddhism.

“In college, before I graduated, I was reading a book that opened my eyes to a bunch of different religions,” Alexander tells InsideHook. “At the time I was a Catholic person. So it definitely got me in the mix of just expanding my mind.”

To familiarize himself a little bit more with yoga, Alexander read a book about meditation by Russell Simmons called Success Through Stillness and even visited some Buddhist monasteries in the Louisville area.

“It was kind of like a trickle-down effect. I was looking into Buddhism and I read it a little bit and also visited a couple of monasteries,” Alexander says. “Just seeing other people there doing stuff like that kind of propelled me into wanting to do it more and reach the benefits of it. I just started trying it —  trying to try new things.”

Drafted 18th overall by the Packers in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, Alexander incorporated yoga into his daily life based on his readings, and now practices without the use of an app or music.

“I normally do it on the balcony. I like to get out of the house and have more of a naturistic feel,” he says. “I focus on being in the present moment, which in my eyes is another form of meditation. The more time you can spend off of the phone and in nature, I feel, can be therapeutic.”

For Alexander, the benefits of his practice have been noticeable.

“I think it’s been helpful in balancing my energy, balancing myself,” he says. “It’s helped me be able to quiet a lot of the day-to-day noises, you know? It’s not as noisy as it used to be. It’s a spiritual elevation just to increase the brain flow, you know what I’m saying? I feel happier.”

In addition to increasing the amount of time Alexander has had to practice yoga, the current era of social distancing has given hime more time to attempt to hone a new skill.

“I’m trying to learn how to juggle,” Alexander says. “I’m using tennis balls, apples, oranges, bananas … whatever I can throw up. I was juggling my breakfast this morning, so I thought that was pretty cool. I’m trying to get a four and then five after that. I think that it’s definitely going to pay dividends in the long run, once I’m able to juggle five.”

Between juggling to soften his hands and upgrade his ball skills and meditating to help him eliminate distractions, it’s been a productive offseason for Alexander despite the lack of football.

“Football can teach you a lot about life. You have coaches for a reason,” Alexander says. “Your coaches teach you ways to improve your game on the field. But the way you excel is if you can improve off the field as well. Just practicing good habits will ultimately bring my game to where it needs to be — where it will be.”

Subscribe here for our free daily newsletter.