Yoga for Triathletes

I know a good number of athletic friends who keep on asking why they should try yoga. Considering the limited time provided for training, isn’t it better to spend this time working out or running?

I had the same mentality back then.

Truth is, the first few yoga sessions for me were hell. I had many apprehensions: I was overly self-conscious, I had no idea about Sanskrit, I had no idea about yoga mat protocols, and my back was killing me, as I tried to sit without falling on the floor!

Yoga is not the same as lifting weights or doing aerobic exercises, but it sure is tough. I’ve always believed that I am physically strong and extremely flexible, imagine how I felt when I could not even do a simple yoga pose!

 

 

So, why yoga?

Flexibility

Your flexibility will improve if you constantly practice your yoga poses or asanas. It may take a while, but it will not be long before you get to touch your toes with ease. Increasing your flexibility will also help increase your range of motion, which then allows you to put more power in every stroke, while reducing your drag in the water at the same time.

Biking will become easier and more comfortable because it loosens your lower back muscles and hamstrings, which improves aerodynamic stability. The time will come when you will be able to do advanced level positions.

 

 

A smoother stride becomes a reality once you have more range of motion in your hips, knees, and ankles. You can then give yourself the freedom from bindings that often contribute to IT band syndrome and patellar tendonitis.

Strength

You will gain more strength by performing long standing holds and by performing flowing sequences like those used in the sun salutations. A gym strength routine is best complemented by a yoga routine. Yoga strengthens your tendons and ligaments, thus improving your equilibrium.

The improvement in your balance will make it easier for you to run trails. At the same time, you gain more core strength, which then leads to a solid powerbase for every sport that you do, whilst also reducing back pain.

Power

An increase in your range of motion will give you more strength, which then provides you with more power. By increasing the length of the muscle fibers, you increase the force produced by these muscle fibers, even when lactic acid is present.

 

 

Lung Capacity

Deep breathing is a part of the yoga routine. With every routine, you will master how to breathe in deeply and then exhale entirely and by constant practice, you will be able to increase your maximum VO2. Breathing exercises, or pranayama, are often part of several yoga sessions.

These exercises are easy to remember and easy enough to incorporate into your current training program. Pranayama is already being used by triathletes when they swim. When you master how to do one inhalation every three strokes, you will improve your control over your breathing. Focusing on your breathes will also help keep your mind at ease.

Mental Focus

Using a mantra does not only mean saying something to yourself, it could also be counting strokes, and steps, or following the tempo of the song that you last heard. This is one efficient way to keep yourself from being distracted, and focus on what you are doing – be it meditating or training.

 

 

Once you are able to master the art of concentrating, then you can move on to the next level of your yoga routine. The next level is characterized by performing two of the eight limbs of yoga which are outlined by the following: Patanjali: dharana and Samadhi.

In summary

We learn from yoga, not to focus too much on the end results. We also learn to push ourselves to the limit, to the point where we feel uncomfortable and then use breathing techniques to ease our mind. This ability that we learn cannot only be used in racing and training but in daily activities as well like undergoing a root canal, dealing with traffic, and facing irate family members during Thanksgiving!

If you are are interested then do not hesitate to look for a yoga instructor. If things go south with your instructor, do not hesitate to venture into another yoga session with another teacher. You can also ask help from your friends about yoga classes and yoga instructors. You can check out videos of yoga poses online, but it’s best that you learn these poses from a qualified yoga instructor.

Good luck!

Terry

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