Kings XI Punjab played some good cricket on the field, but few know the man who works off the field to help them get there. Manoj Kumar, the team’s yoga trainer, has been working wonders for the boys in his daily sessions and the results were evident. Be it Mayank Agarwal’s athletic effort in the deep or Chris Gayle’s diving catches in the slips, Manoj’s magic has been the charm that has added the X-factor in the Kings’ campaign.

On the occasion of World Yoga Day, we caught up with the miracle man from Delhi and ‘pose’d a few questions to ‘stretch’ his imagination a bit. Read his ‘mantras’ below.

Can you tell us about the contribution of yoga in cricket?

In cricket, especially in the Indian Premier League, lots of travelling is involved. It is very hectic. Yoga helps in recovery, with sleep and also helps to deal with injuries.

Do you have any advice for budding teenage cricketers, who are just starting to play serious cricket?

If a teenager adds yoga to his routine his injuries will reduce drastically. That will ultimately ensure that they have a longer career.

They can do breathing exercises like anulom-vilom, Suryanamaskar, Surya Bhedi and Chandra Bhedi.

At a young age, when they are not used to batting or bowling, their body flow tends to lean forward. I would advise them to practice the cobra pose for body balancing.

“Since joining Kings XI Punjab, (Virender) Sehwag told me to stick with the yoga guy and a massage guy; that’s the secret, I guess. In a week’s time, I will be able to touch my toes.” – Chris Gayle

Chris Gayle credited you for his success during the IPL. How was the experience of working with him?

I wanted to work with Gayle for a long time. I was working with Virat (Kohli) once and I told him that I want to work with Gayle. But somehow it didn’t materialise.

As luck would have it, this season he was in our team. So I told him that I wanted to work with him. He took two classes initially and then he started coming to me almost every second day.

I worked on his flexibility and it got better. His body benefitted a lot from the exercises.

Which KXIP player showed the most interest in the yoga?

Everyone showed lot of interest but there are certain players who were regular; like Ankit Rajpoot, Mayank Aggarwal, Marcus Stoinis, Chris Gayle and David Miller, even the coaches and staff.

“I used to practice yoga earlier as well. But working with Manoj has really widened my horizons when it comes to yoga.” - Pardeep Sahu

How does it benefit the coaches?

Whatever you want to do, you need a fit body. You are giving your 100 percent either on or off the field. To work efficiently, fitness is important. They practice yoga to keep themselves fit and healthy.

Who according to you is the best and who needs some help when it comes to yoga?

Everyone is good. But I think Mayank Aggarwal and Marcus Stoinis are quite exceptional. (Aaron) Finch is someone who improved a lot as he started becoming regular towards the end of the season.

How serious is the mood during a yoga session?

I think it is best to keep a relaxed atmosphere when we train. I try to make the players laugh whenever I can. I enjoy training them and if I am enjoying myself, they enjoy themselves as well. So, it’s quite a lot of fun!