yoga for swimmers

Yoga to manage stress and anxiety for swimmers

By James Oakley

yoga for swimmers
Are you itching to get back in the pool? Unless you are incredibly lucky and have an indoor pool at home, like most of us you will be unable to swim during these uncertain times. In the weeks and months that follow, coronavirus has deemed us housebound. As with other sports, swimming can act as an outlet for pent up emotions, a de-stressor of sorts or can simply mean time away from our hectic lives on dry land. So how can you channel that energy into something productive and useful without a pair of goggles? Yoga is the answer. 
  

How to manage stress and anxiety through yoga practices

At first thought you wouldn’t put yoga and swimming in the same boat, but the mental and physical benefits cross paths more than you would think. Yoga can help improve balance, alignment and breathing for swimmers. For example stretching your muscles and joints can earn you greater control over your body’s movements; a stronger, more powerful stroke perhaps?
   
As for the mental boost we get from swimming, this can be simulated through a yoga flow routine. A yoga flow is a series of movements that flow without stopping from one to the next, integrated with breathing in the change of each position or movement. This allows your mind to focus solely on one thing, similarly to focussing on your breathing whilst swimming. It’s important to give your mind time out from over-consumption of content, multitasking and over-stimulation of your senses that would otherwise lead to a mental burn out, stress and anxiety. Swimming and yoga both allow your mind to do this. 
  

3 easy yoga poses to reduce stress and anxiety

The Child’s Pose - this brings calmness and contentment, by bringing your knees to your chest, similar to fetal position, the inherent phycology behind this position relaxes our minds.  
  
Kneel comfortably on your yoga mat, reach your arms up and bring them forward until your head touches the floor in front of you, or as far as you can. Then take a deep breath in, release tension in all of your muscles and close your eyes upon exhale. Breath in and out for 10 seconds in this pose. 
  
The Seated Forward Bend - this position can relieve tension in your head and stretch any tight muscles in your back, caused by stress. 
  
Sit upright on your mat with your legs stretched in front of you. Reach your arms up with a long spine and stretch your heart forward to your toes. Go as far as is possible for your body where you can feel a stretch but no pain. Practise breathing in this position for 10 seconds. 
  
The Tree Pose - When anxiety builds up and your mind is racing, holding this stance helps you focus and discipline your mind to slow down your thoughts, and process them normally.
  
From standing, bear your weight onto one foot and slowly lift the other foot off of the ground.
  
Slowly turn the sole of your left foot toward the inside of your left leg. Place it on the outside of your left ankle, calf, or thigh, whichever is most comfortable. Bring your hands over your head and into a comfortable position, with your palms together at your chest. Hold this pose for up to 2 minutes, focussing on your breathing. 
  
Integrate these poses into your yoga flow and you will finish feeling relaxed and calmer, just as if you’d gone for a swim!
  

Improve mental control with yoga

At the end of a yoga routine, you finish with ‘savasana’. This is a meditative portion of your yoga routine where you lie still on your back for a period of quiet meditation, a time where you are encouraged to control the impulse of your mind, to clean and refocus your energy. Traditionally the pre performing poses and postures were structured and organised into an order that allows your mind and body to prepare to reap the maximum benefits of the savasana that follows. If you’re a regular swimmer, this can help give you a clearer mindset, enabling you to take on more, build your ability and your strength in the pool. 
  

All you need to get started is a yoga mat

We recommend the PAWS X mat. Designed with high performance sustainable materials and innovative grip technology. The perforated natural rubber helps with sweat flow and the dimensions are wider and longer than traditional yoga mats - more room to move if you’re new to yoga.  The PAWS X also has extra thickness for supportive comfort and the laser etching centralises you, allowing you to glide through your routine with ease. 

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