PHOENIX -- It was late in the 2007 season when A's outfielder Travis Buck and first baseman Dan Johnson "got called into the principal's office," as Johnson likes to put it.

The purpose of the meeting, which actually took place in manager Bob Geren's office, was to discuss offseason conditioning plans for the players. General manager Billy Beane threw out a suggestion that nearly dropped Buck to the floor: yoga.

"You gotta be kidding me?" Buck initially thought.

But considering Beane, Geren and assistant GM David Forst were all in the room, he figured it was in his best interest to show some enthusiasm for the idea.

"I'm not in the position where I'd say, 'Nah, I don't think so,'" Buck recalled with a smile.

The players were still trying to process what yoga and baseball had in common when they began taking yoga classes in Chandler, Ariz., where they both live in the offseason.

"I gave it a shot with Dan, and we got addicted," Buck said.

Yoga combines exercise, breathing techniques and meditation and is said to promote both physical and mental well being.

Both players were quickly sold on it, to the point Buck said he plans to incorporate yoga into his pregame routine this season.

Since trying it, Buck and Johnson say their flexibility has increased greatly, which could be key to preventing future injuries, particularly muscle-based ones.

Buck suffered from an assortment of ailments last year, including strained hamstrings. Johnson missed nearly all of April with a torn labrum in his left hip.

Neither Buck nor Johnson knew what to expect when they showed up for their first yoga class.

"I thought I'd stick out like a sore thumb, because I can't stretch at all," Johnson said. "I'm the most inflexible person in the world."

Turns out they were the only men attending that first session, let alone the only major-league ballplayers. What they soon discovered was being a professional athlete didn't count for much in handling a yoga workout, in which a person does various stretches and holds a particular pose for an extended period of time.

"It was just me and Dan and a lot of old women, and it's like, 'What are we doing here?'" Buck said. "(But) it kind of puts you in your place. A lot of the stuff we couldn't really do (very) well. Then you see older women doing it with no problem."

Buck and Johnson could have gotten a good yoga recommendation from A's third baseman Jack Hannahan, who's incorporated yoga in his offseason routine since he tore a hamstring three years ago and swears by the practice.

Hannahan takes classes in Bikram yoga, where sessions take place in a 98-degree room. The heat is said to increase flexibility and the overall effectiveness of the stretch.

"From the minute you walk in to the minute you leave, you're dripping sweat," Hannahan said. "And you leave feeling like a pretzel. It focuses on core strength and flexibility. It's kept me healthy. More people should do it."

Beane's wife, Tara, is a yoga instructor, which inspired him to approach Buck and Johnson about trying it.

"Knowing some of the issues they were having, it seemed like that would be a great alternative," Beane said. "I spent years trying to get strong and my body paid for it. My shoulders are messed up. ... I wish I would have done (yoga) as a player."

Buck may have felt compelled to try yoga based on that meeting last season, but Beane said Wednesday he had no idea if Buck and Johnson had actually followed through.

"I thought at the time they were humoring me by saying 'Oh sure, I'll do this,'" Beane said. "So the fact that that they have and that they've enjoyed it is great."

Contact Joe Stiglich at jstiglic@bayareanewsgroup.com.