So, as the peak season now looks like it's becoming the off season, we explore the benefits of yoga for triathletes, and on maintaining your race-ready physique and cardiovascular fitness. As an entry-level, intermediate or seasoned triathlete, there is a whole world of opportunities for you to discover new ways of building on your foundation and maintaining your strength and muscular conditioning. Yoga takes your body through a whole range of motions. Its complexity reaches further than simply stretching, as it incorporates movement, breathing, mindfulness and strength work, into one fluid form. Get ready to build a strong connection between your mind and body, and really push past your limitations #Reachnewlimits
How does yoga benefit triathletes?
Strain injuries and complications due to overuse of a muscle group are common in triathletes. The repetitive nature of the sport means that muscle groups endure an extreme amount of tension throughout a race, and without the right conditioning injuries can occur.
One of the core principles of yoga is practising breathing technique, which you can apply throughout your race. In situations where you feel breathless, maintaining a stable breathing rhythm will do wonders for your stamina, as well as keeping you calm. Adopting an efficient breathing technique during race conditions will ensure a continued supply of oxygen to the working muscles as well as the constant removal of CO2 to delay the onset of fatigue and lactic acid build-up.
Strengthens your mind as well as your muscles
Yoga hosts a number of benefits for the modern triathlete. As previously mentioned it can increase flexibility and aid injury prevention. However, it can also have huge benefits for mental health acting as a calming influence. Yoga promotes mindfulness which can be achieved by using movement and breathing techniques. Mindfulness is the act of letting all thoughts subside and clearing ones mind from all past/present/future thoughts/anxieties/fears to rest in a peaceful headspace. Seasoned triathletes are no strangers to the importance the mind has on performance. During the most grueling parts of a race, the mind is the only thing that can push you to carry on. By adopting a breathing technique and getting back to that headspace you can push yourself to continue. A good method to use is the “one more technique”. When you feel like quitting, just do one more!
Improving your performance
Yoga calls on the body to react in several ways. It promotes balance, strength, and endurance. It targets the bodies core muscle, such as the abdominal and obliques which are key for maintaining posture and running technique.
Including yoga in your off-season training routine
The off season is a perfect time for those long strength-based yoga sessions. The consistency of these sessions will completely transform your physical abilities, as well as your mindset. Starting early will give you time to adapt to yoga practice. As we get closer to race day and your work-outs intensify, your yoga sessions should be contrasted. Less intense yoga sessions and holding the stretches for longer will ensure your muscles are getting the love and attention that they need for recovery from your full-on training plan. Throughout the tapering period, this should be reflected in yoga also. Now, more than ever, use these sessions to take time to reflect, care for yourself and use this moment to calm your mind and your body. Less physically demanding sessions and more mindfulness and meditation would be advised in the run-up to race day.
Yoga poses for triathletes
Swimming: Upward facing dog
Cycling: High lunge, crescent variation
Cycling and running: Half pigeon pose
An all-around stretch: Downward dog
Relaxation and letting go: Happy baby pose
Mental strength: Mountain pose
Top tips for those still unsure...
With the whole world affected by Covid-19 there are so many Yogi's providing online sessions. These are a great way of starting your yoga journey in the comfort of your own home. So, grab your compression tights and favourite performance culture top and try a yoga class with an open mind. Remove any expectations that you have about how you may feel or what you will achieve throughout this practice. Yoga can be a very personal thing, and your experience will be entirely unique. Yoga is all about caring for your body and being good to yourself. You have complete control over what you do, and you also work within your own personal limits.
Give it a go, and don’t worry if you can’t complete all the poses. Yoga isn’t a competition and that mindset can stay at the door. This is about listening to your body, focusing on your breathing and immersing yourself into a relaxing and joyful experience.