Yoga for Swimmers – Increase Your Body Awareness with Balance

A swimming-specific yoga practice is one of the best ways for swimmers to develop body awareness. Working on body awareness is extremely important for several reasons that include:

  • Making technical changes more effectively
  • Injury prevention
  • Understanding how your body responds to different training stimulus
  • Strengthening the mind body connection

Balancing poses create a heightened sense of awareness by decreasing your base of support. In these poses subtle and sometimes not so subtle adjustments need to be made to find stability.

To make these adjustments successfully you have to understand how your body is responding as you hold the pose.

Developing Focus

Going through this process will also help strengthen your focus. Two ways of doing this include:

  • Using a Drishti point
  • Present moment awareness (mindfulness)

In the physical practice of yoga (asana) a Drishti point is the placement of your gaze. By gazing at a point or object that is not moving narrows your concentration and helps you find and maintain stability.

The activity in your mind will challenge your ability to stay in a balancing pose. When you notice your mind wandering or your self-talk becoming a little more chatty than normal, return to your breath. By doing this you bring your attention back to the present moment (mindfulness), which will helps create stability.

Enjoying the Challenge

Balancing poses can be playful and fun. Approaching them with this mindset can help you to stay away from taking yourself too seriously. When teaching yoga I always remind swimmers when balancing you can take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. This allows you to practice balances in a way that you do not get discouraged or become frustrated with your present abilities to stay in a stable position.

This will also help build resilience and perseverance. Losing your sense of stability and at times falling out of a pose will happen. Approaching the process in a light hearted and non-judgemental mindset can help you be more persistent in returning to the pose and discovering a way to find stability.

Balancing Poses and Sequence

The balancing poses included below do not only challenge your body awareness, but also create strength and mobility that can help your swimming performance. The video above takes you through a yoga sequence that use several of these poses to develop your body awareness.

Yoga Poses for Swimmers – Standing Knee to Chest

 

Yoga for Swimmers

Benefits:

  • Improves balance
  • Increases body awareness
  • Increases hip mobility
  • Strengthens the feet, ankles, quads, glutes and core
  • Improves focus

Cues:

  • Start in mountain pose
  • Feel strongly into the four corners of the right foot
  • Put a slight bend in your right knee engaging the quads and glutes
  • On an inhale lift your left knee towards your chest
  • Hold onto the front of the left shin (or back of your thigh) bringing your left knee towards the chest

 

 

Yoga Poses for Swimmers – Dancer

Yoga for Swimmers

Benefits

  • Improves balance
  • Increases body awareness
  • Strengthens the feet, quads, glutes and core
  • Increases hip
  • Improves focus

Cues:

  • Start in mountain pose
  • Feel strongly into the four corners of the right foot
  • Put a slight bend in your knee engaging the quads and glutes
  • On an inhale bend your left knee bringing your heel towards your seat
  • Hold onto the inside edge of your left foot (if not possible the outside)
  • To begin with ensure that the knees are even
  • Extend your right arm overhead reaching up towards the sky
  • Kick your left foot into your left hand stretching the quads in your left leg
  • If your range of motion allows you can begin to bring your left knee back

 

 

Yoga Poses for Swimmers – Standing Figure Four

 

Yoga Poses for Swimmers - Standing Figure Four

Benefits:

  • ​Improves balance
  • Develops body awareness
  • Increases hip mobility
  • Strengthens feet, ankles, quads, glutes and core

Cues:

  • Start in mountain pose
  • Place your palms together at your sternum
  • Feel strongly into the four corners of the right foot
  • On an exhale put a slight bend in your knee engaging the quads and glutes
  • On an inhale bring your left ankle onto your right thigh above the knee
  • Allow the left hip to externally rotate so the knee is pointed out to the left
  • On an exhale begin to come into a one legged chair
  • Focus on keeping the hips even and the right knee pointed straight forward

 

 

Yoga Poses for Swimmers – Warrior Three

Benefits:

  • Improves balance
  • Develops body awareness
  • Increases shoulders and hip mobility
  • Strengthens feet, ankles, quads, glutes, core and shoulders
  • Improves focus

Cues:

  • 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

 

 

Yoga Poses for Swimmers – Crow

Yoga Poses for Swimmers - Crow

Benefits:

  • Improves balance
  • Develops body awareness
  • Strengthens the wrists, triceps, shoulders, chest and core
  • Increases hip mobility

Cues:

  • Start this pose in a wide legged yoga squat
  • Shift forward and place your hands on the ground shoulder width apart about a foot ahead of your feet
  • Focus your gaze on a spot on the floor approximately half a foot to a foot in front of your hands
  • Bend the elbows slightly as if you were coming into chaturanga and bring your knees onto your triceps
  • Shift your weight forward onto your hands continuing to look ahead of you
  • Come onto the tip toes of one foot and when you are comfortable raise your foot off of the ground
  • Gradually do the same with the second foot coming into the balance
  • Continue to look down and forward if you feel yourself losing balance fall back towards your seat

 

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.

 

“When it comes to swimmers, Jeff’s approach to yoga is on point. He works directly with our team and I cannot stress enough how beneficial his Swimming-Specific Yoga program is for any swimmer who is looking to maximize their potential.”

Brent Hayden, World Champion and Olympic Bronze Medalist 

 

 

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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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