Yoga for Swimmers: Four Yoga Poses to Focus On

A yoga practice for swimmers should focus on opening through the front of the body and strengthening the back of the body while also developing both body awareness and breathing efficiency.

In this article I will go over four yoga poses that address these areas and more specifically target:

  • Stretching the chest, hip flexors and quads
  • Strengthening the upper back and glutei
  • Developing body awareness through balance
  • Developing breathing efficiency by using a three dimensional breath

Three Part Breath

In any yoga practice the connection to breath is key. When performing the yoga poses below I encourage you to use a three dimensional breath.

To perform a three dimensional breath:

  • Breath in and out through your nose
  • One each inhale fully expand through the front, sides and back of the body
  • Each exhale release the air slowly from the body

Yoga Poses for Swimmers: Cactus Lunge

*This pose can be done from both a high or low lunge position


  • Increases hips and shoulder mobility
  • Strengthens the upper back
  • Improves balance

Yoga for Swimmingyoga for swimmersYoga for Swimmers


  • Start in a low or high lunge ensuring that:
    • Your hips are square
    • Your core is engaged
    • You have active length in the spine
  • On an exhale bring your arms to cactus
    • 90° at your shoulders 90° at your elbows
  • Keep the spine long and core strong
  • Draw your shoulder blades towards your spine engaging the upper back

Hold this poses for 3 to 5 breaths

Yoga Poses for Swimmers: Low Lunge with a Quadriceps Stretch


  • Increases thoracic spine and hip mobility
  • Stretches chest, shoulders, hip flexors and quads

Yoga for Swimmers


  • Start in a low lunge with your right foot forward and left foot back
  • Keep your left hand on the ground in line with your right foot
  • On an inhale bring your left heel towards your seat reaching around with the right hand to hold onto the left foot
  • On an exhale roll your right shoulder back opening up through your chest and shoulder
  • Ensure that your:
    • Front foot is flat on the ground
    • Front foot and knee are pointed straight forward

*If your back knee is uncomfortable on the mat place a foam block or cushion under it

*If this is too much of a challenge for your current range of motion use a strap or try the alternative pose below

Hold this poses for 3 to 5 breaths

Alternative Pose – Table Top with a Quadriceps Stretch


  • Increases hip
  • Stretches the quads
  • Strengthens the core
  • Improves balance

Yoga for Swimmers


  • Start in a table top position
  • Bring your left leg up and back and right arm up and forward
  • On an inhale bend your left knee bringing left heel towards your seat
  • Hold onto your left foot with your right hand
  • Square your hips and kick your left foot into your right hand
  • Look forward and press your sternum forward feeling a widening of the collar bones

Hold this poses for 1 to 3 breaths

Yoga Poses for Swimmers: Locust


  • Strengthens the upper back and glutei
  • Creates opening through the chest and shoulders

Yoga for Swimmers


  • Begin flat your stomach looking down with your nose hovering just off the ground, palms down with your big toes and legs together
  • On an inhale hovering your palms and draw your shoulder blades towards your spine engaging the upper back
  • Engage your glutei (the muscles in your seat) lifting the legs off the ground
  • Reach your fingers towards your toes drawing the shoulder blades towards the hips
  • Keep looking down at the ground so the neck stays long

Hold this poses for 3 to 5 breaths

Variation – Arms Extended Overhead

Yoga for Swimmers


  • Begin in locust pose
  • Slowly bring your arms out to the sides and then extend them overhead reaching in the opposite direction of the toes
  • Your thumbs can be pointed up or palms can face straight down

Yoga Poses for Swimmers: Warrior Three


  • Increases body awareness and balance
  • Strengthens glutei, shoulders, core and upper back


  • Start in a strong standing posture of mountain pose
  • Put a slight bend in your knees like you are coming into a tenth of a chair pose engaging your glutei and quads
  • As you come into this pose focus on the pelvis staying even
  • Extend your arms overhead
  • Lift your left foot off the ground
  • Keeping your core strong and spine long begin to hinge at your hips as if you were coming to a halfway lift
  • Extend your left leg back behind you with your toes pointed straight towards the ground
  • Bring your torso and your hip towards a 90° angle
  • Lift your left leg bringing your hip towards a 90° angle

Hold this poses for 3 to 5 breaths


As with any activity ensure that you are prepared to perform the following poses. 

Take into consideration:

  • Skill level
  • Strength
  • Mobility
  • Timing

These poses are recommended to be done after a session in the water or as part of a full yoga practice where the body has been appropriately warmed up.

The following two videos outline guidelines for a safe yoga practice and the appropriate timing for a practice to be performed.

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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“I love Jeff’s style and really like the way he explains the poses and their application to swimming.”

Amanda Heath British and European Masters Record Holder

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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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