Yoga for Swimmers: Developing Your Strength with Yoga

During the world’s fight against COVID-19 you can visit to access several online yoga for swimmers practices for free. Classes range from 25-45 minutes.. To access these classes click here.

For a swimmer developing strength is important to increase the ability to generate force, support technical development and reduce the risk of injury.

To move through the water effectively a swimmer needs to have strength in different areas of the body as well as a strong connection throughout. That synergy is what ensures that your strength is being used as efficiently as possible.

The importance of this connection is one of the reasons that swimming-specific yoga practice is an extremely effective method for swimmers to develop strength. The awareness that a yoga for swimmers practice requires not only helps condition targeted areas of the body, but also creates a stronger connection throughout.

These five yoga sequences will not only develop your strength in specific areas, but create a stronger connection throughout the body. The video above includes different variations of these yoga for swimmers poses.

*When doing a yoga for swimmers practice follow these 4 Keys to a Strong, Safe and Effective Yoga Practice including:

      1. Breathing
      2. Awareness
      3. Allowing
      4. Stability

Down Dog Twist

Areas targeted: Back, shoulders and core

Yoga for SwimmersLachlan and Emily Photography

Down Dog

  • Start in table top (on hands and knees)
  • Walk your knees back a few inches
  • Externally rotate your shoulders (keeping your fingers pointed forward turn your elbow creases away from you and twirl your triceps towards one another)
  • On an exhale press the ground away from you and your hips up and back in a diagonal direction
  • Come into an inverted ‘V’ position as you bring your legs towards straight
  • Make the priority the length in your spine rather than how straight you can get your legs

Move into the Down Dog Twist

  • From down dog
  • Feel strongly into the right hand, pressing the ground away and stabilizing your shoulder
  • On an inhale reach the left hand towards the outside of the right shin or ankle
  • As you bring the hand over look underneath the right armpit
  • Continue to press the ground away strongly staying connected through the shoulder, core and spine
  • Hold for a breath cycle
  • On an inhale return back to your down dog

Stay in your Down Dog for another breath cycle returning to your foundation and on an inhale repeat the Down Dog Twist on the other side.

Build up to a set of 5 repetitions on each side

Dolphin Glide

Areas targeted: Shoulders, back and core

swimming-specific yogaYoga for Swimmingswimming-specific yoga

Forearm Plank

  • Start in table top (on hands and knees)
  • Place forearms on the ground with your elbows directly under your shoulders and your palms flat on the ground
  • Walk your knees back a few inches
  • On an inhale extend the legs bringing the knees off of the ground
  • Ensure that your shoulders are over your elbows and then press the ground away feeling the shoulder blades come away from the spine
  • Have the seat in line with the rest of the spine and engage the glutes to create a strong body line.

Move into Dolphin

  • On an inhale put a slight bend in your knees
  • On an exhale press into your forearms and pressing the ground away directing your hips up and back into an inverted ‘V’ position
  • Feel active length in your spine from your tailbone to the crown of the head keeping the neck in line with the rest of the spine

Return to your Forearm Plank moving into a Side Plank

  • Pivot your right arm so that the finger tips are pointing to your left with the palm flat on the ground
  • On an inhale bring your left hand off of the ground rotating your body and shifting your weight onto your right arm while rolling onto the outside edge of your right foot
  • Have your left arm coming straight from the shoulder socket with the fingers pointed towards the ceiling
  • Ensure that your right shoulder is over your elbow bringing the arms in line with one another
  • Engage the core and glutes, lengthen the spine and raise your hips towards the ceiling

Return to your Forearm Plank and move into a Side Plank on the opposite side

Build up to a set of 5 repetitions on each side

*The forearm plank can be done with the knees down

*The side plank can be done with different variations of the foot and knee placement

Chaturanga Flow

Areas targeted: Shoulders, triceps and core

Yoga for SwimmingYoga for SwimmersYoga for Swimmers

Plank Position

  • Have your fingers spread wide and pointed straight forward
  • The shoulders are over the elbows the elbows are over the wrists
  • Externally rotate the shoulders
    • Point your elbow creases forward without changing the position of the hands
    • Twirl your triceps towards each other
  • Press the ground away feeling the upper back fill up the space between the shoulder blades
  • At the same time press your sternum towards the ground to lengthen the spine
  • Keep the spine long and the hips in line with the spine
  • Feel as if you are pulling your toes towards your hands and your hands towards your toes
  • Modification for this pose – follow the same cues but drop both knees to the ground

Move through Chaturanga

  • Keeping the shoulders away from the ears shift forward just slightly
  • On an exhale keeping your elbows tucked in towards your ribs slowly lower yourself down towards the ground
  • Hover a few inches off the ground
  • Keep your spine long and core strong
  • Hold for one or two breath cycles and then lower all the way to the ground

Move into Modified Locust

  • Start by lying flat on your stomach
  • Bring your arms to either side of your body with your fingers pointing towards your feet and palms flat on the ground
  • On an exhale press your the top of your feet strongly into the ground so your quads engage and your knees lift
  • On an inhale hover the palms and draw the shoulder blades towards the spine
  • Reach your finger tips back towards the heels feeling the shoulder blades glide down the back towards the hips
  • Hold for two breath cycles and lower slowly to the ground and place the hands under the shoulders

Press up and back returning to down dog

  • Starting on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders tuck your toe back behind you
  • On an exhale move through either a push up or table top to press up and back into your down dog

Build up to a set of 5 repetitions

*You can move through the plank and chaturanga with the knees down on the ground

Boat to Canoe

Areas target: Core

Yoga for SwimmingYoga for Swimming


  • Begin sitting with your legs together, knees bent, heels on the ground and toes curled back towards the shins
  • Bring active length into the spine, press your sternum forward and engage your core
  • Place the hands at your sides with the palms facing the ceiling
  • Shift your weight onto your seat hovering the heels off of the ground
  • On an exhale extend your legs and extend your arms with your fingers reaching towards your toes
  • Point your toes away from you

Move from Boat to Canoe

  • From boat on an exhale slowly lower down for a slow count of three
  • Ending in a position where:
    • Your legs are together and extend with your toes pointing away from you
    • Your arms are extended over head with the fingers pointed in the opposite direction of the toes
    • Both your feet and hands are hovering an inch or two off the ground
    • Engage your core and press your low back against the ground
    • Start by lying flat on your back with your arms extended overhead
  • Raise the legs and arms up few inches and begin to rock in this position minimizing movement at the hips and shoulders
  • Rock back forth three times

Move back to Boat

  • After your third rock stop in at your starting point and slow on a count of three raise your arms and legs up back into boat

Build up to a set of 5 repetitions 

High Lunge to Reach Back Lunge

Areas targeted: Legs, core and upper back

Yoga for SwimmingYoga for Swimmers

Runner’s Lunge to a High Lunge

  • Start in a runner’s lunge
  • Have your front foot pointed straight forward feeling strongly into the four corners of the feet
  • Have your knee directly in line with your ankle ensuring that you can see your toes in front of your knee
  • Ensure you are on the ball of your back foot and pressing through the heel
  • Square your hips feeling as if your front hip is moving back and your back hip is moving forward
  • On an inhale with a strong core and long spine come up with the upper extending the arms overhead
  • Ensure your torso is directly over your hips
  • Bring your front knee to a 90° angle

High Lunge to a Reach Back Lunge

  • Keep your lower body steady in the high lunge position
  • On an exhale keeping your core strong lean forward with your chest hinging at the hips keeping the chest and shoulders open
  • Reach your finger tips back towards your back foot and draw your shoulder blades strong towards your spine
  • On an inhale with the core strong and control return back to a high lunge
  • On an exhale return to your runner’s lunge and do a jump switch bringing your back foot forward and your front foot back coming into a runner’s lunge on the other side

Build up to 10 repetitions on each side.

*The lunging position can also be done with the back knee on the ground

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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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Gustavo Woltmann -Yoga Trainer
3 years ago

I am really impressed with the steps. I’ll keep learning from here.

Natalia Chubukova
4 years ago

Please, tell me, when pool will be open. I need swimming and miss it very mach . N.C

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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