8 YOGA MOVES

Yoga has huge ben­e­fits for ath­letes and is prac­ticed by many world class triath­letes. Here He­len Clare shares some poses to fo­cus on post train­ing or in be­tween ses­sions. Move into each po­si­tion slowly so you can feel how deep a pose is. Make sure you lis

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Hold th­ese po­si­tions to gain strength and im­prove flex­i­bil­ity.

DOWN­WARD FAC­ING DOG

Great for: Re-length­en­ing and de­com­press­ing the spine, re­leas­ing ten­sion in ham­strings and calves. This is such a great pose to do af­ter any ac­tiv­ity and is al­ways the first pose I do af­ter a run to be­gin re-length­en­ing my mus­cles and spine.

How to: Start on your hands and knees, push into your hands to lift the knees and guide your hips up and back, length­en­ing your spine. Only then start to think about low­er­ing your heels to­wards the ground. If your ham­strings are tight then this pose will be hard at first, so think about length­en­ing your back and arms by keep­ing a bend in the knees. Hold for five breaths.

PYRA­MID

Great for: Re­leas­ing tight ham­strings, par­tic­u­larly ben­e­fi­cial post run. How to: From the Low Lunge, step your back foot for­ward, place your hands on your hips and come up half way. Ex­tend your spine by look­ing for­wards and level your hips. Re­main here or take your hands to the floor or on to blocks. Keep your spine long for an­other breath be­fore ex­hal­ing and fold­ing over your front leg to your own de­gree, keep­ing a bend in the front knee as re­quired. For an ad­di­tional shoul­der stretch, in­ter­lace your fin­gers be­hind your back. Hold for five breaths, re-place your hands back on your hips and in­hale up with a long spine, naval draw­ing in.

LOW LUNGE

Great for: Re­leas­ing ten­sion in the hip flex­ors, a ma­jor area of ten­sion cre­ated by all three dis­ci­plines. How to: From Down Dog, step one foot for­ward, bring­ing your an­kle un­der your knee. Place your hands on your front thigh and lower your tail bone to­wards the ground as you sink your hips un­til you feel a deep com­fort­able stretch in the front of your hip. Your front knee should be above your an­kle or take it slightly past the an­kle to in­crease the stretch in your calf and Achilles. Hold for five deep slow breaths, fo­cus­ing on the hip flex­ors in the front of the hip of the back leg, ex­hal­ing out the ten­sion.

RE­VOLVED TRI­AN­GLE

Great for: Length­en­ing ham­strings and eas­ing out ten­sion in glu­teus medius, min­imus and pir­i­formis. How to: From Pyra­mid, widen your stance slightly by mov­ing your back foot back an inch or two, keep­ing the heel down. If your right foot is in front, keep your right hand on your hip and take the left hand to the floor or a yoga block. Re­volve slowly to the right, keep­ing the hips level, then if com­fort­able ex­tend your arm up. This twist ac­tion is great for stretch­ing the glu­teus medius on the out­side of that right hip, a mus­cle that will un­doubt­edly be hold­ing ten­sion.

CO­BRA

Great for: Open­ing the chest and draw­ing back the shoul­ders, re­vers­ing hunched shoul­ders from cy­cling and the for­ward mo­tion of run­ning.

How to: On your front, place your hands ei­ther side of your chest. Roll back your shoul­ders to lift your chest but keep your el­bows bent and hug­ging in. Re­lax your shoul­ders down away from your ears. Press the tops of your feet into the earth. If your back is feel­ing more flex­i­ble come up higher – just keep your shoul­ders away from your ears, vi­su­al­is­ing your shoul­der blades mov­ing down. Take five breaths.

PI­GEON

Great for: Hips. This is an in­tense stretch for the gluteals and the deeper pir­i­formis. All the hip mus­cles get tight from swim­ming, cy­cling and run­ning, which if left can lead to back pain and knee prob­lems. This pose gets deep and re­leases ten­sion in the pir­i­formis mus­cle. Move into this pose ex­tra slowly, es­pe­cially if you have any knee is­sues, due to the hip flex­ion and body weight over your knee.

How to: Be­gin in Down­ward Dog or on your hands and knees, then bring your right foot to­wards your left hand. Bring your shin to the ground with your right foot by your left hip. Check your back leg is out straight be­hind you and your hips are level, no mat­ter how high they are. With tight hips you won’t get them both to the ground so sup­port your­self with a blan­ket roll or cush­ion un­der the right hip. Start upright then ex­tend your torso for­ward. Take 5-15 breaths, en­joy a deep stretch but come up if it is too in­tense. Re­peat on the other side.

EA­GLE ARMS

Great for: Stretch­ing the rhom­boids, trapez­ius and latis­simus dorsi; glu­teus medius and min­imus. This is a great post-swim stretch.

How to: Sit with legs crossed or for those with more flex­i­ble hips, cross and stack the knees. Ei­ther way make sure your sit­ting bones are both com­fort­ably grounded, sit on a blan­ket or cush­ion if it is un­com­fort­able. Cross your arms and be­gin to wrap your fore­arms and wrists to your own de­gree – this will be af­fected by tight­ness in your back and shoul­ders. Push the el­bows away from you to go deeper. Take 5 to 10 breaths. Switch the cross of your legs and arms and re­peat.

BRIDGE

Great for: Open­ing the chest, draw­ing back the shoul­ders; stretch­ing the psoas.

How to: Lie on your back, bend your knees so your an­kles are un­der your knees, feet par­al­lel. Press your hands and feet down as you lift your hips up, keep­ing your head and neck on the ground. There are var­i­ous arm po­si­tions for this pose, a nice ad­di­tion is in­ter­lac­ing the fin­gers to gain ex­tra lift. Keep the chest lift­ing, and the shoul­der blades mov­ing in to­ward each other. Take 5 breaths, with one to three rep­e­ti­tions. Come down slowly and hug your knees in to­wards your chest.

Join He­len for a week of yoga and triathlon train­ing on 7-14 May 2016 at Trisports Lan­zarote. Triathlon Plus read­ers get 10% off. Use code TriPlusYoga when book­ing.

Visit he­len­clareyoga.com/lan­zarote for de­tails.

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