Yoga for Swimmers: Cultivating Relaxation

One of the greatest benefits of a swimming-specific yoga practice is how it can enhance recovery.

The Sympathetic Nervous System

It is common for athletes to spend many of their waking hours with the sympathetic nervous system activated. This side of your nervous system is commonly termed as “fight or flight”. One of its main functions is priming the body for action.

Athletes tend to be action-oriented people ready to compete and perform anytime, anywhere. Being ready to take action is an important part of achieving results, but so is staying balanced.

Parasympathetic Nervous System

To achieve balance the parasympathetic nervous system needs to be activated. The main function of this side of your nervous system is to allow you to recover and regenerate. We all know taking time to recover is important, but often ignore this fact.

Because of this many athletes find themselves physically fatigued and mentally exhausted by continually being “on”.

Yoga Nidra

There are many different ways that a swimming-specific yoga practice can be designed to enhance recovery. One of the most effective ways is through a relatively unknown practice called Yoga Nidra.

Yoga Nidra is known as yogic sleep. In essence it is a form of guided meditation that engages the parasympathetic nervous system through heightened body awareness and attention to the breath.

Yoga Nidra provides a way of contacting and resting within Pure Awareness as it exists beneath the waking and dreaming/imagery states of mind.

It involves guided practices that gently draw one’s attention inward, through various aspects of body, breath and being. This progressive inner attention invites the activity of the mind to gradually still along the way, while going ever deeper toward conscious deep sleep.” – Jennifer Piercy

A few of the benefits that people can experience with a Yoga Nidra practice include:

  • Decreased stress and anxiety
  • Improved sleep
  • Heightened energy levels

The following is a short 18 minute Yoga Nidra session.

For this practice find a position where you are at ease, that will be restful for the length of the class. Many chose to practice in a classic savasana pose, but feel free to choose a different position that will allow you to relax.


This Yoga for Swimmers article is brought to you by Swimming-Specific Yoga the world’s top resource for online yoga classes and content designed for swimmers and multi-sport athletes.

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What people are saying about Swimming-Specific Yoga

“Jeff has worked with the HPC-Vancouver swimmers since the fall of 2016 delivering swimming specific yoga classes twice a week.

The swimmers have enjoyed the approach and orientation that Jeff brings to every class. I feel they are more flexible, more aware of their bodies and are able to control their thoughts much better.”

Tom Johnson
11 time Canadian Olympic Swim Team Coach


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4 years ago

My favorite position is “Couch potato watching TV”.

4 years ago

My favorite position is downward facing dog. My husband loves it too!

About Jeff Grace

Jeff Grace

Jeff is a 500 hour registered yoga teacher who holds diplomas in Coaching (Douglas College) and High Performance Coaching (National Coaching Institute - Calgary). He has a background of over 20 years in the coaching profession, where he has used a unique and proven teaching methodology to help many achieve their …

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