The Yoga Regimen That Keeps an N.B.A. Forward Centered

Scott Cacciola for The New York Times on April 25, 2023

In recent years, Golden State’s Kevon Looney has turned to a form of yoga designed for athletes to help him avoid the injuries that had stymied his career.

SAN FRANCISCO — Early Sunday morning, Kevon Looney of the Golden State Warriors decamped to a quiet atrium on the fourth floor of Chase Center, where floor-to-ceiling windows offered an expansive view of San Francisco Bay. The sun was beginning to burn through a hazy sky as Looney propped his iPad against a small metal column, unrolled his black yoga mat and greeted one of the more important figures in his professional life.

A voice emanated from the iPad. It belonged to Jana Webb, the creator of a self-styled brand of yoga known as Joga, which she originally conceived as yoga for athletes. Webb, 47, appeared on a video conference call from her home in Toronto wearing a backward baseball cap. She is in Looney’s phone as “Jana Joga.”

“How’s the body feeling?” she asked.

“Really good,” Looney said.

Moses Moody, one of Looney’s teammates, was also on the call, dialing in from his apartment near the arena. It was 8:30 a.m., about four hours before Game 4 of Golden State’s first-round playoff series against the Sacramento Kings. Webb spent the next 40 minutes guiding both players through a series of movements designed to loosen their joints, activate their muscles and center their psyches.

“Reach, reach, reach,” she said as Looney, who is 6-foot-9, stood on his toes and extended his arms, a small pool of sweat forming on the mat below. “Get that fascial tension like you’re reaching for the net. Awesome. Now, hold.”

(Webb was referring to the fascia, which is connective tissue throughout the body — and not to the face, though Looney appeared to have some tension there, too.)

Looney lies on his yoga mat with his arms out and his knees bent and his right foot over his left knee.
Looney does a virtual session of Joga — described as “yoga for jocks” — before each of Golden State’s games. Photo Credit. Clara Mokri for The New York Times

Earlier in his career, Looney could not seem to escape injury. But over the past two seasons, he has emerged as Golden State’s sturdiest player, appearing in every one of his team’s games. He practices Joga before every game, at home and on the road.

After Sunday’s session, Looney delivered against the Kings, finishing with 8 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists to help the Warriors win their second straight game at home and even the series at two games apiece. In Game 3 on Thursday, he finished with 4 points, 20 rebounds and 9 assists while helping compensate for Draymond Green’s absence because of a suspension.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Sacramento.

“He’s always locked into the game plan,” Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said of Looney. “He never makes mistakes. He rebounds like crazy. He makes the right decision. The game is much simpler when Loon is out there for our guys.”

Looney, who has won three championships with the Warriors, said his work with Webb had helped him cope with the physical and mental rigors of the N.B.A. Those demands are only heightened in the postseason.

“It’s pretty brutal,” Looney said. “Every possession is intense. After the game, you’re just drained.”

Kevon Looney cups his hands behind his head and lifts his body forward as he lies on a yoga mat.
Photo Credit. Clara Mokri for The New York Times
Kevon Looney lunges on a yoga mat, with his left leg in front of his right leg.
Photo Credit. Clara Mokri for The New York Times

At this late stage of the season, when players are tired and stressed, game-day routines take on added significance. Players are looking for whatever edge they can get, especially this year, when injuries to stars like Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Giannis Antetokounmpo are a factor in so many series. Some players prioritize their naps. Others lace up their lucky sneakers. Looney does Joga.

“I love to have 30 minutes to be in my body and see how I really feel,” he said.

Looney got a head start in yoga as a high school senior in Milwaukee. Lou Chapman, who was one of his early basketball trainers, introduced him to Bikram Yoga — also known as hot yoga — when a new studio opened up. Looney recalled that he had barely survived his first class.

“I did a lot of laying on the mat,” he said. “I felt like I was a top athlete, but they destroyed me.”

The competitive side of Looney kept him coming back. Also, Chapman had gotten them discounted memberships, and he wanted to make sure that they took advantage of the deal.

“I think we went 90 straight days,” Chapman, 42, said.

During his lone season at U.C.L.A., Looney succumbed to a busy schedule and drifted away from yoga. After Golden State selected him as the 30th pick in the 2015 N.B.A. draft, he missed most of his rookie year with hip injuries — he had twin surgeries to repair right and left labrum tears — and later dealt with chronic nerve pain. He broke his collarbone during the 2019 N.B.A. finals and then had core muscle surgery in 2020. He returned for the 2020-21 season but felt disappointed by his play.

Looney, in his Golden State Warriors uniform, faces the scorer’s table and reaches toward something to the right.
Looney goes through his pregame ritual before Game 4 at the scorer’s table. Photo Credit. Clara Mokri for The New York Times

“I wasn’t moving as well as I had in the past,” he said. “I didn’t have that same burst or coordination.”

Following the season, Looney approached Dr. Rick Celebrini, Golden State’s director of sports medicine and performance, with a specific request: Did he know any yoga teachers?

In fact, Dr. Celebrini had someone in mind. He connected Looney with Webb, a fellow Canadian who had worked with other athletes for years. Their first virtual session was a doozy.

“I can’t say I loved it,” Looney said, “mostly because I stunk at it.”

Webb was unsparing in an initial assessment that she sent to Kyle Barbour, Golden State’s head performance coach, citing several areas where Looney’s mobility was limited. But she saw potential, and Looney experienced the sort of post-session soreness — in his glutes and his abdominal muscles, specifically — that signaled to him that he had room for improvement.

“We don’t do a lot of long static holds,” Webb said. “It’s really about duplicating the biomechanics of movement in sport.”

Looney worked with Webb several times a week that summer and then paused their sessions at the start of the 2021-22 season. At the time, Looney thought that Joga might just be a part of his off-season routine.

Kevon Looney stands on a yoga mat, leaning forward with one leg and the other extended in the air behind him.
Looney started doing yoga in high school in Milwaukee. Photo Credit. Clara Mokri for The New York Times

“But after six or seven games, I felt like my body was going back to how it was before,” he said. “My back was hurting, and different things weren’t moving as well. So I reached back out: ‘Can we do this on game days?’”

By the middle of last season, Looney had become such a believer that he organized a Joga session for anyone in basketball operations — players, coaches and staff members — who wanted to learn more. As usual, Webb led the class remotely. Even from thousands of miles away, she could sense varied levels of interest.

“Draymond clipped his toenails during it,” she said, laughing. “I was like, is this actually happening?”

Moody’s prevailing takeaway was confusion. As a teenager in Little Rock, Ark., he had dabbled in yoga by taking classes at his local LA Fitness. But Webb might as well have been speaking a foreign language.

“She was talking so fast about all these muscles we were supposed to be activating,” Moody said. “And I’m next to Loon, so I’m just trying to keep up with him, and I don’t know what I’m doing.”

But Moody was also intrigued. After spending the next couple of weeks peppering Looney with questions about Joga and human anatomy, Moody called Webb. “She gave me the rundown,” he said.

Looney and Domantas Sabonis jump and reach for the ball in the air with their teams surrounding them.
Looney has played in all 82 regular-season games for Golden State in each of the past two seasons. Photo Credit.Clara Mokri for The New York Times

Looney invited Moody to join him at his next pregame Joga session and then paid for all of his classes for the remainder of the season. They have been inseparable Joga buddies ever since. If the team has a shootaround scheduled for 11 a.m., Looney and Moody will typically meet with their mats on the team’s practice court at 8:30 a.m. for 40 minutes of stretching, lunging, twisting and breathing.

“I can really tell the difference when I don’t do it,” Moody said. “You just feel more fluid in your movements. When that ball comes off the rim, you kind of feel like Spider-Man a little bit.”

After more than 200 remote sessions with Looney, Webb finally met both players for the first time when the Warriors were in Toronto in December to play the Raptors. “That was so special,” Webb said.

On Sunday, Webb started their session by having them do a series of breathing exercises.

“Relax your jaw for four,” she said. “Soften the ribs for three. Start to squeeze the lower belly for two. And now completely pull the breath and empty it there. Notice what you’re thinking about.”

Before long, Webb had them working through dynamic movements, one after another. She reminded Moody to keep his fingers spread when he was in a plank position. She urged Looney to lift his “pelvic floor.” She referred to their hip joints and femur bones, their side intercostals and adductors.

At the end of it, Looney lay flat on his back, closed his eyes and exhaled.

Moses Moody’s athleticism unlocked by unlikely Warriors teammate

How unlikely Warriors teammate unlocked Moody’s athleticism originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SAN FRANCISCO – Warriors guard Moses Moody, running faster and jumping higher than he did as a rookie last season, credits an unlikely source for his increased athleticism.

“I’d like to dedicate a lot of my newfound athleticism to Kevon Looney,” Moody said last week, barely concealing his grin.

Would that be Kevon Looney, your Warriors teammate? The guy with two surgically repaired hips, does an impressive job of managing neuropathy but is more of a chugger than a sprinter?

Yes, that Looney, assured Moody.

“He put me onto Joga in the middle of last season,” Moody said. “Through high school and through college, I had been feeling aches and pains. A little tendinitis. But I’d do the Joga, and that’s been really big.”

Joga, according to, “involves physical postures, breathing, and relaxation techniques. However, where the goal of Yoga is to become more flexible and spiritually aware, JOGA’s aim is to enhance performance, improve concentration, and reduce recovery time within the context of an athletic environment.”

Joga is a portmanteau word combining jock and yoga. Moody saw Looney lead the NBA in games played last season with 104 – all 82 in the regular season, 22 more in the postseason – and, aware of Looney’s history, felt this was an experiment worth trying.

Looney practices it each morning before practice and now he has a disciple.

“I’m just following a lot of steps that he took,” Moody said.

Moody added that in addition to Looney, he has gotten help from the strength and training staffs. Upon arrival in the Bay Area after the 2021 NBA draft, he approached Dr. Rick Celebrini, the vice president of player health and performance about his untapped athleticism and told him of periodic knee soreness.

“If we get my knee fixed,” Moody recalls telling Celebrini, “I promise you there’s an athlete contained inside of me.”

Moody is raising eyebrows in practices and workouts by moving more quickly than he did last season dunking with authority. With Jordan Poole starting in place of Klay Thompson in Golden State’s three preseason games thus far, Moody was the first player off the bench in all three games.

When Moody scored 12 points in a preseason win over the Wizards last Sunday in Japan, his field goals were two 3-pointers, two dunks and one reverse layup. The shooting was no surprise. The flight time on the dunks came, oddly enough, came courtesy of one of his teammates.

If he didn’t nod and wink toward Looney, he probably thought about it.

How Kevon Looney turned into the Warriors’ most durable player

Only one player has appeared in all of Golden State’s 60 games: Kevon Looney, closing in on a goal he set before the season

By EVAN WEBECK | | Bay Area News Group – PUBLISHED: February 27, 2022 at 7:15 a.m. | UPDATED: February 27, 2022 at 3:26 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO — With 22 games to go, freshly rested from an All-Star break spent on the beaches of Mexico, Kevon Looney can see the finish line. The goal he set at the start of the season, one he never thought was realistic until this year, is this close to materializing.

The lessons learned and adjustments made after a trying past two seasons, including a series of trials and errors, left Looney feeling confident in himself entering this season: He wanted to play all 82 games for the first time in his career.

Sixty down, 22 to go.

“I spent a lot of time being hurt. I don’t want to do that again,” Looney told the Bay Area News Group. “I don’t want to have that feeling. I want my teammates to know they can count on me. I want my coaches to know they can count on me. I want the fans to know I’m going to be there. I’ve missed so many games and so many big moments. It’s something I take pride in, something I hope to accomplish.”

It’s increasingly rare in this day and age for a player to notch all 82 games. Michael Jordan did it seven times; LeBron James just once (and Steph Curry never). Looney is one of seven players league-wide who has yet to miss a game this season — one of two to start them all.

Coach Steve Kerr called Looney’s streak of games played his “favorite stat of the season.”

“Loon has always been a favorite in our organization for so many people based on who he is,” Kerr said. “The last couple years were really tough on him health-wise. To see him healthy and playing night in and night out brings everybody a lot of joy.”

After last season, his second straight hampered by injuries, the Warriors training staff approached Looney with a suggestion. There was a program, they told him, that could help with his mobility, which Looney admits, “is something I struggled with in the past.” So he gave it a shot over the summer and has since incorporated it into his game day routine.

It’s called JOGA. That’s right — yoga for jocks (and a trademarked workout that boasts testimonials from three NBA strength and conditioning coaches on its website). Looney goes through the sequence of neuromuscular exercises before every game. When he took a pause during the preseason, he said, he felt the difference.

“It’s different in that it’s less about flexibility and more about mobility, you know, building strength in different positions, stuff like that,” Looney said. “So it was something that helped with my core and my hips, my two major injuries that I had throughout my career.”

In his seventh season, Looney’s role has swollen. He was a member of previous championship teams but rarely started. This year, he has been a fixture in the starting five, hearing his name boom during introductions before all 60 games so far.

The last time Looney was close to this reliable, his role wasn’t nearly this large. He played in all but two games in 2018-19 but made only 24 starts, making way for DeMarcus Cousins and Andrew Bogut on most nights. Still, he posted career highs in almost every statistical category, earning a three-year contract extension.

Then came the injuries.

The following season started off on a bad note and got worse. Looney missed the preseason with a strained right hamstring and appeared in only 22 games before the COVID-19 pandemic struck and shut down the Warriors’ season. Soreness in his hip kept him out six games; his abdomen an 18-game stretch.

But most importantly was his diagnosis with a rare nerve disorder, called neuropathy, that can make a person’s arms and legs go numb and, in Looney’s case, doctors believe, also lead to severe stomach problems.

Even doctors were flummoxed at first.

They recommended Looney scale back his diet to the extreme.

Chicken. Fish. Rice. Spinach.

“Kind of a bland diet,” Looney said. “Not a lot of seasoning on it.”

They took away eggs. And oranges.

“I like breakfast,” he said. “That’s something for breakfast I ate everyday.”

But, slowly, he was able to expand his palate back to a place where, now, he says, he’s able to enjoy a wide array of food again, while keeping his neuropathy in check. A healthier diet brings added benefits, too.

Looney turned 26 earlier this month, but his newfound health has him feeling — and playing — better than anytime since he entered the league. Back then, he said, “I couldn’t play 20-minute games back to back, 30-minute games I’d need a day off.”

This season, he is averaging 20 minutes per game for the first time in his career and has logged two games with more than 30 (and another four with at least 28 minutes). As the Warriors’ only true big man, he is also on track to set career highs in scoring (6.4 points per game) and rebounding (7.5).

The number Looney cares about, though? Eighty two.

“For me,” he said, “it started off with getting to 70 games, getting to 60 games, to get in the rotation. Now I want to be at the point where I can play in all 82. And I feel like my body’s ready for it.”


JOGA World is the company I continue to rely on in our travels across the country. Their virtual coaching presence is unmatched. Altogether, they provide consistent sport-specific routines and offer expertise that fits well into any well-balanced strength and conditioning program

Javier Gillet

Director of Athletic Performance, Minnesota timberwolves


“My name is Tyler Russell. I play hockey for the Los Angeles Jr Kings. I have been practicing JOGA for over 2 years. JOGA has helped me get stronger, especially with the strength in my legs. I really enjoy doing all of the JOGA exercises along with the salutation and the stretches. I consider JOGA a secret weapon because my body is in pain during the workout but I know that the pain is what will make me stronger. My JOGA coach, Carlie Chiovetti, is awesome. She is great at teaching all of the exercises and really cares that we are making improvements every week to help me be a stronger athlete.”

Tyler Russel

Los Angeles Jr Kings


“What benefited me the most is the way we worked on my posture. In addition to that, my hips and hamstrings were always tight in the past. Now they, never get tight and I feel very fluid.”


Linebacker, Cincinnati Bengals, NFL


“To be successful on the field, you have to be both physically and mentally prepared! I believe JOGA is the perfect blend of recovery, performance, and conditioning. I love JOGA because it not only makes my body feel better, but it allows my mind to let go.”


Wide Receiver and Kick Returner, Toronto Argonauts, CFL


“I was looking for something new and that made sense with how my players move. This is when I was introduced to JOGA, a movement based program to help my players recover and maintain strength and mobility without sacrificing time. I felt it was an effective way of training”


NBA Orlando Magic Head Strength and Conditioning Coach


“When trying to establish a foundation of strength JOGA segments 1 and 2 are very good for teaching the athlete balance and body control. This helps to increase strength and explosive power down the line.”


NBA Detroit Pistons Head Strength and Conditioning Coach


“JOGA is different than a traditional yoga class as it takes into consideration how athletes move, train and digest information. It’s program based and encompasses all of the physical properties needed to support elite performance.”


NBA New York Knicks Director Of Sports Performance


“When I started with Jana this past summer I noticed an immediate improvement in the way I felt physically. She paid close attention to the way my body was built and my strengths and weaknesses, allowing me to work on and improve strength and mobility that would immediately help me as an athlete. The work was very specific and tailored to my position. I’m very confident that it helped me on the ice when the season started. I’m looking forward to working with her again in the future.”


Goaltender, Minnesota Wild, NHL


“JOGA can be an integral part of the off-season training of any athlete. It is important, however, to find an instructor who understands the demands of your sport and the strength and conditioning program. Jana and the JOGA staff have a done a great job of tailoring a program to meet the needs of my athletes and are willing and able to customize their sessions based on my feedback.”


Strength and Conditioning Coach, Creator of BioSteel Sports Supplements