Mac Engel

The Tarrant County prosecutor who left her job to be the Dallas Cowboys yoga coach

The following reads like a slightly unbelievable pilot for a Hulu TV series: By day she is a public prosecutor who tries cases against people who commits against kids, and by night she is a yoga instructor for an NFL team.

This slightly unbelievable plot outline is not fiction.

Melinda Westmoreland Nag was a Tarrant County deputy prosecutor in the middle of a death penalty case who recently left her job to become the yoga instructor for the Dallas Cowboys.

“This all happened really fast,” she said. “I never expected any of this to happen. Never.”

Exactly who would?

THE PATH TO BECOMING THE DALLAS COWBOYS YOGA COACH

Born in Mesquite, Westmoreland Nag did not grow up as a yogi who quoted the ancient texts of Rig Veda, popped down dogs before school and ate free range, gluten free cereal.

She earned her law degree from Texas Wesleyan Law School (now Texas A&M law school) in Fort Worth and went to work in the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office.

As an adult, when she was not practicing law, she joined the crazies who compete in triathlons. The hard ones.

“I’ve done three Iron Mans,” she said.

For the uneducated, that’s a 2.4-mile swim, then just a quick 112-mile bike ride followed by a thrilling 26.2-mile run.

Her day job involved some of the worst cases a DA’s office handles: crimes against children. Westmoreland Nag was once a special prosecutor in Waco for a case against a daycare worker who provided Benadryl to children so they would sleep; one of the children died.

During her athletic training she started practicing yoga at a studio on Camp Bowie Avenue in Fort Worth, and she “liked it so much she bought the company.”

She and her husband, Jayson Nag, bought the studio and renamed it “Soul Sweat Yoga.” The studio is now located on Eighth Avenue near Magnolia.

She became a certified yoga instructor for something fun to do on the side from her career as public prosecutor.

THE COWBOYS HOT YOGA STUDIO

Starting in the mid-1970s, under former team strength and conditioning coach Dr. Bob Ward, the Cowboys have always been receptive to introducing their players to types of improvement beyond the norm.

Ward was the first guy to introduce NFL players to a martial arts expert, Dan Inosanto, who had previously trained under Bruce Lee. Ward would try anything, up to and including a juggler (that one didn’t take).

Ward tried yoga once; the problem with yoga in the 1980s was that it was a foreign exercise with limited appeal, and it had a terrible marketing image. It was something older moms did, if that.

Today, yoga is a thriving international industry with millions of yogis working with a variety of people on any level of any age. More pro athletes are receptive to yoga. More. Not all.

Over the last several years, Cowboys coach Jason Garrett has invited a yoga instructor to work with the players, and coaches, at training camp in Southern California.

One of the biggest challenges in a pro athlete practicing yoga is the pace. It’s slow. And it can hurt like a host of four letter words. Pro football players are big and tight, with little flexibility.

Once you’re done with a session, the payoff is immediate. If you do it enough, yoga can aid in injury prevention.

Cowboys veteran long snapper L.P. Ladouceur, who lives in Aledo with his wife, Brooke, and their two children, has been a regular of yoga, and specifically at Soul Sweat.

“That was the connection,” Westmoreland Nag said. “L.P. was the one who introduced me to Coach Garrett.”

A few weeks ago, Westmoreland Nag led a yoga session with the players at The Star in Frisco and that was enough. Garrett asked her if should would like to be a regular.

“Right now it’s just a weekly thing and I’ll see where it all goes,” she said. “I know it’s becoming more popular with teams and everyone with the entire team has been really great and open to it.”

She decided to leave her position with the Tarrant County DA’s office and see where being the “Yoga Coach” of the Dallas Cowboys takes her.

“It’s definitely an unexpected turn in my life. I went to law school to be a prosecutor and I love my job. I am very passionate about it, “ she said. “I didn’t see how I could do both so I am going to try this.

“I didn’t get into yoga other than for the benefits of it. I never expected any of this to happen and it’s been a whirlwind. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”

And with that we say, namaste.

Related stories from Fort Worth Star Telegram

Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
Support my work with a digital subscription
SUBSCRIBE TODAY
  Comments