Increase your focus and help improve brain power

Yoga poses to help stimulate your mind

There are so many distractions nowadays that it's so hard just to take your mind off everything and focus on one thing. I want you to try this. Really try to take a few minutes out of your day to try these four poses. Even if it is just the first one, tadasana or Prayer pose (it is harder than you think) but try it. You will be thankful to get a minute of peace, to rest your mind and focus. Considering I am still in a pretty rookie position with yoga, I brought in yoga expert Nathalie Kosman for help! For your viewing, she is doing each position pretty solid in the bottom right hand corner, as you can see I am wobblier than a poorly assembled IKEA coffee table.

1) Prayer pose or Tadasana

Tadasana is the foundational pose for all standing yoga postures and full inversions, such as headstands, handstands, etc. The purpose of the pose is to get grounded. You want to feel the ground below you, close eyes, and take a deep breath. Even though this is a beginner pose, this is a restorative and balance pose. So open your palms, rib cage, and mind. Prayer pose is considered a base pose, since prayer pose variations can be derived from this pose. Prayer pose is considered a warm up yoga pose to prepare the body for more intense yoga poses/ yoga flow.

2) Eagle Pose

You will want to watch Nathalie below in the right-hand corner for this one, as I struggled here. This posture resembles the shape of an eagle taking flight. This pose strengthens the lower body, opens the shoulders, and improves balance and concentration. Start off by setting your gaze and remember to breath and focus. Stay for 30 seconds, then unwind the legs and arms and repeat on the other side (legs and arms reversed).

3) Warrior III

Warrior III improves balance, memory and concentration, and tones and invigorates the whole body. From Mountain pose, step the right foot a foot length forward and shift all of your weight onto this leg. Inhale the arms over your head and interlace the fingers, pointing the index finger up. As you exhale, lift the left leg up and out, hinging at the hips to lower the arms and torso down towards the floor. Look down at the floor and stare at a point for balance. Reach out through the left toes and the crown and fingers making one straight line. Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths. To release: inhale the arms up to lower the leg back to the floor and step both feet together back into Mountain pose. Hold on each side for 30 seconds to challenge your balance, and then repeat on other side

4) Supported Headstand

Finish your practice with Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana) to calm your brain. For beginners, I would suggest using a wall behind, so you can practice with your feet on the wall. Come on to all fours with your heels at the wall, make sure you keep your shoulders directly over your wrists and lift up in to a shortened dog pose. Then bring one leg up at a time so your foot is in line with your hips keeping your knees bent. When you feel comfortable in position straighten both legs (think strong warrior 3 legs) to bring yourself in to the pose. Press through your feet, lengthen through your sides, engage your abdominals and lift your shoulders up away from your ears.

Check out Nathalie at The Preserve, Fit Athletic Club, and Equinox for individual or groups classes.

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Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March. Photo via: NRG Park/Facebook

Football players, coaches and general managers have come and gone, but only one person has been running the business side of the Texans, well, even before they were the Texans. Jamey Rootes has been President of the Houston Texans since 1999, when an NFL team in Houston was still just a gleam in owner Bob McNair's eyes. That's before the team adopted the name "Texans" in 2000, before there was NRG Stadium, which opened as Reliant Stadium in 2000, and before they became serial champs of the AFC South, six titles between 2011-2019.

The precise date was Oct. 6, 1999 when NFL owners voted 29-0 to award the NFL's 32nd and newest franchise to Houston. Not only that, Houston was awarded the 2004 Super Bowl. Rootes, 34 years old with no NFL experience, had his work cut out for him. Before taking the job in Houston, Rootes was team president, general manager and CEO of selling peanuts and popcorn for the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer, with all due respect, is not nearly a national obsession like the National Football League.

"I wasn't intimidated," Rootes said. "There's a quote that I love, 'Do the thing you fear and the death of fear is certain.' I've always been a purpose-driven person. As for the step up to the NFL, I went from knowing nothing at the start of my time in Columbus to five years later thinking, OK, I've got this sports thing down. Actually, I had a very significant reduction in my responsibilities in Houston. When I was in Columbus, I ran the stadium, I ran the team's business, I was the general manager so I did the talent side of it, too. When I came to Houston, all I had to do was the business, so that was great."

Rootes has captured his remarkable journey from the soccer team at Clemson to grad school at Indiana University to the business world at IBM and Proctor & Gamble to the Clemson Crew, to ultimately being named President of the Houston Texans in his new book, The Winning Game Plan: A Proven Leadership Playbook for Continuous Business Success, available next week.

I've known Rootes from his day one with the Texans, but I still had to ask: everybody knows what the general manager does, and what the head coach does. What exactly does the President of an NFL team worth $3.3 billion do?

"I like to use the parallel of a pharmaceutical company to describe my job. There are two sides to that company. First you put scientists in one building and you leave them alone. They create products, which is what our football team is. The football side has a coach and general manager and all the people who prepare the team to play on Sunday. But getting that product to market is done by the business side, traditional business disciplines. Those are the things that fall to me. Basically, everything between the white lines is run by the football side. Everything outside of those lines, I do," Rootes said.

Between 1999 and 2002, when the Texans played their first game (let the record show the Texans defeated the Dallas Cowboy, 19-10), the team was essentially a massive start-up project. First orders of business for Rootes involved building a new stadium, developing relationships with suppliers, contractors and government officials, preparing for a Super Bowl and, most important, developing a relationship with fans.

Rootes began writing The Winning Game Plan last March, but it's really an accumulation of lessons learned and behind-the-scenes stories about building the Texans from scratch into one of the most admired and valuable franchises in all of sports.

"I've always been a meticulous note-taker. I've kept every presentation I've ever done. I took all of my notes and concepts and put those down on paper," Rootes said. "To be a good leader, you need a wild imagination. You can show me a blank piece of paper, but I don't see it as blank. To me, it's a finished product that hasn't been created yet," Rootes said.

Rootes lays out his leadership strategy in seven chapters: Are You a Manager or a Leader, Get the Right People on Your Team, Build a Winning Culture, Create Raving Fans, a Winning Playbook for Adversity and Success, Your Leadership Playbook and Play to Win.

He learned lesson No. 1 the hard way. A friend once counseled Rootes, "your staff doesn't like the way you're all up in their business, you need to back off." Rootes took that advice to heart.

"It was an epiphany. I wasn't a leader. That's when I truly began thinking about leadership. I say this all the time, I don't do anything. All I do is create an environment where exceptional people can be their very best self. I know what's going on. I'm fully informed. I leave every game day exhausted. I get there early. I do the things I need to do. I kiss babies. I shake hands. I present checks. I entertain clients. I'm dialed in. It absolutely wears me out because I love this organization so much. I am so proud of what we've been able to do for this great city of Houston."

I asked Rootes, as someone who lives for Game Day and a packed NRG Stadium, are you devastated by 2020, the year of COVID-19 and small crowds limited by Centers for Disease Control guidelines?

"I don't look at it that way. I think there's a song by 10,000 Maniacs that said, these are the days that you'll remember. I told my staff, I know you're all going through hell right now, but later on in life, you'll talk about this year. Things that are important are memorable, for the positive and those things that leave a scar. You learn from adversity and you're a better person for enduring it. Victor Frankl said 'We can discover meaning in life in three different ways, by creating a work or doing a deed, experiencing something or encountering someone, and by the attitude we take toward unavoidable suffering.' Suffering is part of life. He should know, he survived a Nazi concentration camp," Rootes said.

H-E-B President Scott McClelland wrote the forward to The Winning Game Plan. Rootes dedicates the book to late Texans owner Bob McNair. Rootes' book is a fun read. All I kept thinking was, where was this book when I needed it? And before you buy too much into Rootes as a leader, consider that Rootes admits that he had to ask for wife Melissa's permission before he could accept the Texans job.

Personal note: I believe that a big part of leadership is the ability to keep a promise. Several years ago, I was riding my bicycle with my dog Lilly on a leash. It was the only way I could keep up with her. Well, one time Lilly saw a squirrel and pulled me off my bicycle. I tumbled a few times and rolled next to the curb. When I looked up, there was Jamey Rootes. I told him, "There's no need for you to tell anybody about this." He never said a word.

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