Yoga is considered to be a form of discipline, which takes into account mindfulness, breathing techniques, and movement into one training modality. One of its objectives is to create harmony between the mind, body, and environment surrounding us. The movements associated with Yoga are often times isometric holds in positions that challenges the balance, strength, and range of motion. Many poses are so demanding that the body does not have the articular supply from the joints to make it happen. That is often times why people shy away from Yoga, unless there is an instructor that is able to regress the swimmer to manageable poses. Benefits include increase range of motion, increased positional strength, increased relative strength, increased awareness of body, and improved respiration.
Introducing Yoga for swimmers is either a hit or miss. It tends to be a hit for swimmers who are looking to explore their body’s in order to move better and feel better. This gives swimmers a healthy training variation from their regular “hard work” mentality. It can also be a miss in terms of swimmers being forced to do something they inherently do not want to. If there are demotivated swimmers who are just not yet ready to explore yoga, it is better to let those swimmers one day come back to explore. The risk is for any athlete to go through movements without paying attention to the body. This is harmful in terms of the standards and habits the swimmers will develop by not practicing with intention.
I’ve seen too many swimmers not taking this modality seriously. There is a potential that the benefits to the mind, body, and swimming, were not clearly presented. Henceforth, a way to go about this is to clearly communicate with the swimmers and use this either as a recovery modality, or an optional workout. Self-motivated swimmers will get much more out of it, and it will keep the coaches from getting frustrated.
It involves a deep mind-body connection and is an excellent tool to heighten body awareness out of the water in order to find better flow and build a more durable body.
Jeff Grace is a swimming coach and the founder of Swimming Specific Yoga. I had the pleasure of sharing the computer screen with him to discuss how Jeff uses Yoga practice to elevate swimming performance, and how we can use this training to battle and reduce injuries.
Elite level swimming requires movements to be executed at the highest level. Yoga is a practice that helps swimmers be more aware of how the body moves and how certain muscles feel during those movements. Often times, Yoga can expose weaknesses we did not realize we had, and would be valuable information for the swim coach and strength coach to further develop the swimmers appropriately.
To check out what Jeff has to offer, click here.