Rugby To Yoga – by Tony Marsh

Rugby To Yoga - The Yoga Connection, New Zealand's Yoga Guide

Ten years after turning the page on a sporting career and having a bit of time to mull things over and put everything in perspective, I have to say that I put my body through hell. Yeah, I was living the dream so to speak, paid to do what I loved and what I was passionate about. A career as a professional rugby player in New Zealand and abroad, I got to do and live a life that so few experience. I am forever grateful for all the highs, however the territory comes with many lows that we don’t often hear about.

The constant physical and mental challenges I thrived on, but 12 years pushing the body to its limit, 11-month long seasons, having to perform week in and week out along with the constant injuries have left this body tired, battled and bruised. Fifteen operations and what seems like hundreds of tackles, head knocks, rucks and mauls, being stood on, being thrashed on the training and playing fields have taken its toll. Add to that a testicular cancer diagnosis with chemo in the early 2000’s and a few Ironman’s since retiring from rugby and my statistics on pampering the body don’t look good.

Having recently started a new business, a lot of my energy and drive is focused around the challenges associated with a new start-up and getting to grips with a role that, until 18 months ago, had been foreign to me. So it is now more than ever about finding balance and peace within a hectic lifestyle.

I can also reluctantly admit that I no longer have the desire to go to that place of hurt even if I could and have come to accept that my body has served me well but it is time to give back. There is a place and time for everything and today that means that I have to slow down and listen to what I need more of … which sometimes is just lying in the sun and listening to music.

I still love going to the gym and pumping iron or getting stuck into a short high intensity circuit, but I have had to add in a few other components to my training regime to find my equilibrium.

I was fortunate to attend Wanderlust Taupo 2016, a life changing experience that has created new beginnings. Exposed and vulnerable yet overcome with a haze of love and joy, it was like I had exited this place and gone to another world that I seemed to know so well. I have taken my experiences from there and incorporated them into my weekly routine.

Initially I struggled with the concept that slowing down could be good for the soul and it took time to establish that there were benefits in not doing everything at one hundred miles per hour.

tony marsh yogatalk

“Both yoga and meditation would be a must if I were still running the rugby fields. I personally think that it would change the earth we walk on if everyone took part in daily practice.”


Yoga is now a part of my training routine and I attend at least one class, or two when possible, on a weekly basis. Benefits of increased flexibility and strength especially through the shoulder region have lead to better performance in my day-to-day training sessions. I am now doing things I would not have thought possible even a year ago which I put associate directly to yoga.

Regular meditation has become part of my life. The goal is to get three sessions done weekly but often manage more. It is normally a body scan or a positive healing energy sound clip before bed. This forces me to slow down and think of nothing. I am astounded how much more energy I have, how much calmness it brings and how stress seems to be alleviated.

Isn’t it strange how something from the outside that appears so simple or easy and yet makes so much sense is what we often neglect? I think a regular yoga and meditation practice has the power to change the inner and outer spheres of our surroundings.

Hallelujah, my body is alive. I am grateful and yes, I am a convert.

Ex-international rugby player, ironman athlete, personal trainer and elite coach, Tony Marsh has always been involved with fitness and wellbeing. He connects top fitness trainers to clients with his I.AM app and is a passionate advocate for yoga and mediation fitting into any and every fitness regime!

© The Yoga Connection 2016

{ 1 comment… add one }
  • Ingrid September 2, 2016, 1:23 pm

    I always enjoy hearing how yoga and meditation changes lives! Great story, Tony. Thank you!

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