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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.