Yoga poses for swimmers focus on building long, lean muscle, utilizing the body from head to toe, coordinating breath with movement, and experiencing your inner self. Sounds a lot like swimming, doesn’t it?
At first glance, yoga and swimming may seem to have nothing in common with one another, but these two activities actually complement each other in many ways.
Yoga Poses for Swimmers
In swimming, there is a lot of pressure on the shoulders and shoulder blades and hips. Practicing yoga in conjunction with your swimming practice can bring a good counter-balance to tight shoulders, upper back and hips.
Yoga can also improve overall strength, flexibility and range of motion, build concentration and focus, develop better mind/body coordination and expand lung capacity. All of these benefits will improve your swim practice and general well-being.
If you’re hitting the pool this summer, try the following six poses to get all the benefits mentioned and improve your performance levels in the water:
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose helps stretch hands, arches, shoulders, hamstrings and calves.
From hands and knees, press palms firmly into the mat and straighten legs, lifting the hips and coming into an inverted V shape.
Draw shoulder blades down the spine and move shoulders away from the ears, rotating upper arms outwards.
Focus on lengthening the spine, bending the knees if you need to keep the spine long.
Relax the head and neck. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
This pose strengthens the spine and lower back and stretches chest, shoulders, lungs and core.
Lie on your stomach. Bring hands under shoulders and press the tops of your feet and ankles into the mat.
Begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor, going only as high as you can while keeping the legs, feet and ankles in contact with the mat.
Press the pelvic bone and legs into the mat and draw the shoulders away from the ears, lifting the sternum. Relax glutes. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
Bound Angle (Baddha Konasana)
This pose opens stiff hips and stretches and tones inner thighs, knees and groin.
From a seated position, bring the heels together and using the hands around the tops of the feet or the ankles, draw the heels towards the groin.
Keep the shoulders relaxed and down, shoulder blades moving down the back. Release the heads of the thigh bones towards the mat and gently allow the knees to come down towards the mat (never force the knees down).
Keep both sitting bones in contact with the mat. Hold for 10-15 breaths.
Cow Face (Gomukhasana)
This pose stretches and strengthens chest, hips, shoulders and ankles, stretches and tones biceps and triceps. It can be a bit complicated to get into, but the benefits are worth it!
From seated with legs stretched out in front of you, bend knees and put feet on the floor. Slide left foot under the right knee outside of the right hip. Cross right leg over left, stacking the right knee on top of the left and bring right foot towards the outside of the left hip.
Keep both sitting bones on the mat and keep both knees stacking on top of one another. Then, extend right arm forward, palm up. Bend the elbow and bring right fingertips to the back of the right shoulder, elbow pointing up.
Roll left shoulder back and down as you bring the left hand around the back, left elbow down. Draw left fingertips towards right fingertips. If you can clasp right and left fingertips, do so as you use the counter pull to stretch, keeping both arms close to the head and torso. If you cannot clasp your fingertips together, use a strap or towel clasped between the hands to make a connection and get the benefits of the stretch.
Hold for 5-10 breaths and switch legs and arms to the opposite side.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This pose stretches hips and thighs, eases the lower back and neck, relaxes the shoulders and reduces stress and anxiety.
To ease tightness in the shoulders, use the more traditional version of the pose, with the knees together and the arms extended behind; from a kneeling position, bring knees and ankles together, tops of the feet down into the mat.
Bring the forehead towards the mat, hips coming down onto the heels, resting the third eye on the mat, tucking the chin slightly. Arms extend towards the heels, palms up.
Allow the shoulders to drape forward, relaxing completely. If resting the forehead on the mat causes any discomfort, place a yoga block or folded blanket or towel under the forehead.
Hold this restorative pose for 10-15 long and deep breaths.
Threading the Needle (Sucirandhrasana)
This pose stretches the shoulders, arms, upper back and neck.
Begin in table top pose on hands and knees. Slide right arm under left shoulder, behind the left arm. Slide the arm all the way to the left so that the right shoulder and right side of the head lower to rest on the mat.
Explore where you feel the deepest stretch- with the left hand next to the head, extended forward, or wrapped around the lower back/hips.
Hold for 10-15 deep, slow breaths and switch sides.