Yoga for open water swimmers – Part 2
Incorporating yoga into your strength & conditioning routine will make you a better open water swimmer. Use these four poses combined with the exercises in part one of this series to strengthen and tone the whole body and improve your swimming both mentally and physically when you get back in the water.
Improve your flexibility, strength and endurance
- Start on hands and knees and ensure the body parts are all in alignment. Breathe in.
- Exhale; arch back and looks towards navel.
- Extend leg; inhale.
- Exhale; move head towards knee.
- Add breath in, extend right arm and left leg. Exhale, and return to position 1.
Remain balanced with arm and leg extended. Take four breaths, maintaining the Ujjayi breath (see Yoga for Open Water Swimmers part 1), and focus on staying in the moment.
- Work the arm in a sweeping movement from side of body forwards.
- Come back to the basic cat pose and bend the knees.
- Make an upside-down “V” pose.
Add a leg stretch out and back. Stay here for four breaths, maintaining Ujjayi breath with eyes closed.
Increase flexibility in your pelvis and lumbar spine
- Roll over to the prone position with your face on the mat.
- Bring the arms forwards, elbows bent and tucked into the sides. Keep hands in line with shoulders.
- Breathe in and allow the body to lift up to a back bend. Keep the hips on the floor.
- Come up to just the navel and exhale. Float down. Practise a few times. Stay in the pose and focus on the breath and power of the navel. Allow the shoulders to relax. Keep pelvis relaxed.
Bring the arms by the side of the chest,then to by the side of waist.
This can be added to the cobra. As you lift the body the legs can lift off the mat with the same breath pattern. This is an Improver’s pose and will increase flexibility.
To open the chest and allow the breath to flow, improve circulation to the upper chest and open the pelvis and bring a sense of earth focus
- Stand with feet slightly apart, pelvis facing forwards and arms by the sides.
- Step the right foot back so that the toes are facing forwards and try to keep the heel towards the mat (the heel may not come to the floor). Encourage this throughout the practice.
- Breathe in and bring arms forwards and upwards, fingers towards the ceiling. Allow the chest to open and keep shoulders relaxed. Stay here and breathe.
As you breathe in, move the arms towards each other, keeping elbows and wrists together. Exhale and return to the start. Repeat.
For stability, improved balance/focus, ground earth energy
- Standing with feet together raise the right leg and bend it (foot to touch the lower inside leg, inner thigh).
- Focus on the breath and then add arms circling around above the head.
- Concentrate on the breath and keep eyes forward.
Move forwards, bending at the hips, and try to bring fingers to the floor. Take the head to the knee. Come out slowly, maintaining balance.
About the author
Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE has been achieving records in long distance, English Channel and marathon swimming since 1978. In 1979, she first swam the English Channel, aged only 15. She holds the record for the fastest butterfly crossing of the English Channel and has also swam butterfly around Manhattan Island. Julie is a Swimming Teacher and Coach for Indoor & Open Water Swimming and Channel Swim Training and other long distance swimming events.