Six Yoga Moves for Swimmers

Have you considered adding yoga to your swimming routine? Yoga is perfect for swimmers of all ages and skill levels when done safely and properly. Many athletes include yoga in their training programs and you can too. Yoga increases core strength, improves flexibility, maximizes focus, and aids in muscle repair. Yoga is the ultimate restorative practice, and it just feels good when you do it. If you include these yoga poses into your swimming routine, you won’t be disappointed. Your body will thank you.

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Bridge Pose

Bridge pose

The bridge pose is a wondrous yoga pose. It is one of the best back-bends in Yoga. You can use the bridge pose to warm you up before a swim and to cool you down after your time in the pool. To do the bridge pose:

  • Lie flat on the floor or mat.
  • Bend your knees and plant your feet on the floor.
  • Extend your arms along your body on the floor. Press your palms to the floor.
  • Lift your hips toward the ceiling as you press your feet and palms into the floor.
  • Lift your tailbone. The top of your body should be flat.
  • Do not flex or squeeze your glutes.
  • Hold for one minute.

Benefits: promotes relaxation, opens chest muscles, energizes the body, and restores body and mind.

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Cow pose

 The cow pose will feel amazing after your swim. To do the cow pose:

  • Get in the tabletop position.
  • Tighten your core, flatten your back and plant your palms on the mat. You should be able to draw a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone.
  • Inhale and allow your stomach to dip toward the floor as you open up your chest.
  • When you exhale, return to the tabletop position.
  • Do this 10 to 20 times.

Benefits: Improves spine health, strengthens the core, and stretches back and shoulders. This is a great exercise for improving spinal mobility and reducing shoulder and low back injury! Save yourself visits to the physical therapist!

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Downward Facing Dog/ Upward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

Move from the downward facing dog to the upward facing dog to stretch before or after you swim. To begin with downward facing dog:

  • Get on floor in the tabletop position.
  • Make sure your knees are directly below your hips.
  • Curl your toes under your feet and plant your hands on the floor.
  • Exhale and lift your legs away from your mat. Your legs will begin to straighten.
  • Allow your head to release toward the floor. You should be looking at your knees.
  • Tighten your core and stretch your shoulders.
  • Your body will make a perfect upside-down ‘V’.

To transition to upward facing dog:

  • Lower your knees back down to the mat.
  • Stretch out your arms and your legs so your belly is on the mat.
  • Bend your arms back and place your palms at your side near your waist.
  • Bring your feet together.
  • Inhale and press the tops of your feet and your palms into the floor as you lift your chest.
  • Focus your gaze on the sky and relax your glutes.
  • Remain in this pose for 30 seconds.

Benefits: opens chest, shoulders, and psoas and strengthens arms and legs. The downward facing dog provides your body with hamstring stretch and calf stretch.

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Warrior pose

Warrior pose in yoga improves balance and focus. The pose is powerful and ideal for spine flexibility and health. The do the warrior pose:

  • Start out with your feet on the floor, about hip-width apart. Your arms should be at your sides.
  • Exhale and step your feet apart, putting your right foot in front. Your feet should be about 5 feet apart. Make sure your right toes point toward the top of the mat.
  • Press into your weight into your back foot as you reach your arms to the sky.
  • As you reach, bend your right knee so it forms a 90-degree angle.
  • Keep your body long.
  • Hold for a minute before moving switching your feet.

Benefits: improves range of motion, relieves tightness in the shoulders, open up the chest muscles. 

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Sunbird pose

 After you do the cow pose, you can go into the sunbird pose.

  • After you complete the cow pose,
  • Stack your hips and shoulders: shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. Legs should be hip-width apart.
  • Maintain the line down the back to ensure your spine is parallel to the floor.
  • Lift your right leg out straight so that it is parallel to the mat. Your foot should be flat and your toes point toward the mat, not at the wall.
  • Extend the opposite arm out in front of your body.
  • Hold strong and steady. Hold this move for about 20 seconds before continuing to the other leg.

Benefits: opens chest, improves core strength, lengthens back, strengthens abdominal wall, improves balance and coordination, and stabilizes the pelvic wall.

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Foot stretch

Foot stretch

 One final move to consider, that many do not, is the foot stretch. You need strong and flexible feet to power you through the water and improve your kick. To do the foot stretch:

  • Squat down so that you are resting on the balls of your feet. The back of your thighs should be touching the backs of your lower legs. You will feel the stretch in the arches of your feet.
  • Stabilize your body with your fingertips on the side of your legs.
  • Slowly move your heels up and down. Do this a couple times.
  • Next, drop to a kneeling position and curl your toes under your bottom.
  • Lean back and lift your knees off the mat, balancing your body with your fingertips. This will stretch the tops of your feet.

Benefits: improves strength and flexibility in the feet and ankles, and it improves power in the water.