Swimming strengthens the body, increases aerobic ability, and calms the mind. However, like all activities involving repetitive movements, swimming should also be complemented with exercises and other movements to keep the body balanced.
Yoga poses can help you achieve this by stretching and engaging certain muscle groups that may not be equally targeted by the repetitive, strenuous movements involved in swimming. Read on to learn how swimmers can benefit from an asana practice, as well as recommended postures to start with.
How Yoga Can Help Swimmers
Yoga is the perfect dry land pairing for anyone interested in improving his or her swimming abilities and keeping up with the conditioning outside of the pool. A regular yoga practice enhances swimming technique by increasing strength and mindfulness. It also counteracts the damage of repetitive movements by allowing the body to move in opposing ways.
For example, yoga poses use the force of gravity on body weight to increase muscle and bone strength. While swimming takes the pull of gravity away, yoga helps put it back in to keep the body balanced and strong.
While all yoga poses have holistic benefits for everyone, there are certain poses that can be specially beneficial to swimmers. Try these postures on land so you can get your flow on point, both in and out of the water.
Top 8 Yoga Poses for Swimmers
1. Plank Pose
Kumbhakasana strengthens the entire body and is especially good for the core muscles. Core strength is especially important for swimmers as keeping the core active allows the body to take a form similar to a torpedo. This shape allows the body to move quickly and easily through the water, reducing strain on the arms while still propelling forward. Learn how to do it properly here.
2. Cobra Pose
Every major swimming stroke utilizes the pectoralis major and minor, or the “pecs”. Bhujangasana stretches these muscles while activating the core, adding balance and strength to any swimming regimen.
The pose also stretches the intercostal muscles located between the ribs, which allows for the rib cage to expand and increases breathing capacity.
3. Figure Four Chair Pose
Eka Pada Utkatasana is a Chair pose variation that stretches the hips and glutes to help counteract the tension created during swimming. The pose also tones the core and strengthens leg and foot muscles, both of which help improve kicking form and speed.
4. Wide Legged Forward Fold with Clasped Hands
Prasarita Padottanasana C stretches all the areas swimmers need: the shoulders, legs, back, and glutes. It can also help improve concentration and focus—both key features of getting in the competitive swimming zone.
5. Bound Angle Pose
Creating awareness around the hips can help improve your kicking form when swimming, as this motion should originate from the hip versus the knee. Baddha Konasana is all about giving our hips and groin that valuable stretching needed to promote and maintain good swimming form.
6. Bow Pose
Dhanurasana is another great backbend that engages the core and provides a deep stretch to the chest, arms, and legs. This posture also improves back strength, allowing for better posture both in and out of the water.
7. Down Dog with Calf Stretch
Adho Mukha Svanasana is a gentle way to strengthen the arms and legs while stretching the shoulders and hamstrings. Increase the stretch on the calves by placing one foot to the opposite calf.
8. Locust Pose
Salabhasana stretches the chest, shoulders, and thighs while engaging the glutes and strengthening the backs of the arms and legs. Having stronger glutes will elevate your kicking technique in the water! Remember the feeling of the legs in this pose and recreate it in the pool to improve form and increase speed.
Both yoga and swimming are low-impact, effective ways to improve physical wellness. The two activities complement one another and are easily customizable to individual needs. Whether you are an experienced swimmer or a newbie, yoga can help you prepare your body for the water and build strength for a safer, stronger flow.