June 29, 2018
Written by Aletheia Katharine Hunn, Yoga Teacher and Director of Founded Wellness.
When working with athletes and those dedicating their time to some serious sporting efforts, we tend to hear the same questions ‘help, my body is tight’, ‘can yoga help me’, and ‘will flexibility improve my performance’ our time at the Cholmondoly Castle Triathlon last weekend was no different.
The answer to these questions is yes, moving between yoga postures promotes the lubrication of your joints, essentially oiling and nourishing them with synovial fluid. It also helps to release and breakdown down your fascia, the surface level connective tissue which can be best thought of as cobwebs under your skin which need dusting away each and a few stretches can help with this [if you’re not squeamish, Gill Hedleys Fuzz Speech is worth a watch to learn more about this]. In terms of flexibility, yes it will help to improve your range of motion by undoing some of the muscle shortening that your long training sessions have caused, but it could actually be detrimental, increased flexibility increases the need for strength and stability, so you need choose poses and yoga sequences which cover all three of these aspects. Simply stretching you hammies isn’t enough.
We mentioned in our last blog some considerations around the broader benefits of yoga to support your training, racing, mindset and breathing. So this time were going leave you with something a little more physical, especially ahead of the upcoming distance races.
At this stage in your training plan, both time and energy levels are probably pretty tight, so the last thing you need is a testing 30 minute yoga routine to steal your time and leave you in a puff.
Useful pre-race yoga should be simply about being supple and mobile, using subtle stretches and movements which will keep things open, promote blood flow, nourish your joints and help to repair tired muscles from months of training.
Here’s our pick of 5 great yoga poses to help you feel your best on race day:
Spine Articulation – Cat/Cow
- Make a table top shape on your hands and knees
- Lift your head and open your chest, broaden your collar bones
- Breathe in allowing your pelvis to tilt forward. Your spine will dip (cow)
- Slowly start to round your spine and exhale all of your breath. Round your spine like a cat and tuck your pelvis under
- Move in between the cat and the cow slowly and repeat 5-10 times
Shoulder Mobility – Thread the needle
- Keeping on your hands and knees in table top. Adjust your spine to make your back flat.
- Inhale as you lift your right arm to the ceiling and rotate your torso to open up your chest towards the right side of your mat, trying to keep your hips level
- Exhale to feed your right arm under your left arm reaching to the left side of your mat.
- On the inhale reach up to the ceiling again.
- Keep repeating this sequence 5 times of each side
Shoulder Opening – Yin Yoga
- Grab yourself a couple of sturdy cushions and lay them onto the floor to make a rectangle shape (you can use a yoga bolster if you have one)
- Lay on your back and allow your spine to run lengthways on-top of the rectangle of cushions stopping at your lumbar spine
- Lay back and relax letting your arms and shoulders fall open
- Stay here for 3 minutes
- You can also bend your knees into a diamond shape and and let your hips open. Use cushions for support under your things
Supine Hamstring Stretch
- Lay with a flat back and raise your right leg, try to keep the left leg on the floor
- Reach around the flesh and muscle part of the upper leg and squeeze it into your chest on the inhale, allowing the knee to bend
- Keeping the thigh close to your chest, exhale slowly moving your heel to the ceiling, straightening your leg you will feel the stretch
- Repeat for 5 breathes and repetitions on each leg
- Lay flat on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor
- Step your feet wide and drop both knees to the right
- Lay your arms wide at shoulder height and gently look over your left shoulder
- Take 5 breathes here and switch sides
You’ll find the Founded Wellness Yoga team at all of our 2018 UK races so don’t miss the chance to join them for a stretch.
About Founded Wellness
Founded Wellness is a workplace wellbeing provider dedicated to bringing the benefits of yoga and other holistic health activities out of the studio and into the workplace, to some of the people that need it most. The aim is to get everyone moving, breathing and living better at work.
You can read more about Founded Wellness here: www.foundedwellness.com