Yoga can help swimmers increase their body strength and flexibility and also allow them to stay injury free.
While yoga may seem like a completely different discipline when compared to swimming, when done successfully, it can have plenty of benefits for swimmers. The physical of benefits of yoga can help swimmers with increasing their strength, achieving greater flexibility and mobility and find the right body balance and spatial awareness.
As swimmers continue to perform the same movements day in day out in the water, it is important for them to bring acute awareness behind their movements. Finding better breathing patterns and being in tune with the body is also achievable through yoga. The mental benefits of yoga are as important as the physical benefits.
It can also help a swimmer stay injury free and enhance performance and consistency.
But what are the yoga poses that are really helpful for swimmers? Let’s discuss:
Cat Cow Stretch
The cat cow stretch has massive benefits for the spine and they help in reinforcing both the front and back sides of the body together. The transition from the cat pose to cow pose and vice versa also allows for greater emphasis on breathing awareness while making body movements.
The goal is to inhale into the cow position where the spine is arched and the belly button is low and to exhale to get to the cat position where the spine is rounded and the belly button is high.
It is important to keep in the mind that the feet should also vary according to the pose. The toes need to be curled in cow position and released in the cat position.
The Downward Dog is a very popular yoga stretch that helps in opening up the hips and places emphasis on both the lower body as well as the upper body. The pose is achieved by coming back on all fours followed by curling the toes under and then straightening the legs to pull the hips back into the downward dog position.
While it is very helpful for the whole body, it has particularly strong benefits for the hamstrings, calves, shoulders, and back muscles, all of which play a great role while swimming.
The high lunge is another pose that builds excellent coordination of the muscles in the lower body and does well to open up the hips and the thighs. In order to do the high lunge, one must step their best foot forward in a lunging movement and lift the arms in the air. It is important to do the lunge during inhalation and lifting the arms during exhalation. The rear leg is straight and the heel is spiked, stretching the foot and ankle.
Greater attention must also be paid to the shoulders as the shoulders need to be plugged into their sockets. Holding the high lunge position for a considerable amount of time also helps in learning patience and stillness, leading to greater mental focus.
The bridge pose is quite simple to perform and it is regularly done by those struggling with back problems. This pose is done while lying on the back. The knees must be brought in and the feet should stay close to the buttocks and parallel to each other throughout the pose.
The next step is to lift the hips off the floor and slowly roll the shoulders under one at a time while keeping the arms on the side. The greater the distance between the hip in the air and the floor, the more effective and stronger the stretch.
Hands and Knees Balance
The balancing pose on hands and knees is wonderful for increasing body balance. Here, we have to return on all fours. Extending one hand forward, the opposite leg must be stretched in behind. The gaze should be on the floor and with the neck in a neutral position. The belly needs to be tucked in as well in order to avoid the spine from collapsing.
The same sequence can be repeated with the opposite set of hands and legs and it is important to breathe in and breathe out while making that shift in movement.