Including yoga in the mix of ingredients for success is a “must do” for any serious endurance athlete. Gaining flexibility, balance, and whole-body strength will help to improve your form, efficiency, and power. The regular practice of yoga poses can train muscles and tendons to stabilize joints, which will help avoid acute and repetitive injuries. Yoga poses will move through a natural range of motion, which will later mean more economy as your body is better able to find the most efficient path to move. Holding yoga poses can improve joint stability and strengthen stabilization and core muscles. This leads to whole body functional strength and will bring greater awareness of the body and breath connection to the athlete.
Yoga will also help improve concentration, breath awareness, and mental focus. Yoga emphasizes being present in the moment. This skill becomes invaluable as an endurance athlete. Yoga also teaches the importance of total relaxation, which translates to saving energy, better recovery, and better sleep.
Finally, yoga can address and expose imbalances in the body and help bring the body back to symmetrical alignment by correcting flexibility and strength imbalances and bringing awareness to the body. This can lead to less overuse injuries for the endurance athlete.
Try adding 1-2 yoga classes to your training schedule per week. You won’t regret it!
THREE POSES TO GET YOU STARTED
Creates length in the entire back body including heels, calves, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and back. It also develops strength in the shoulders, upper back, and wrists. From plank position, lift your hips. Legs should be straight, but not locked, with head in alignment with arms. Lizard pose is an excellent pose for opening hip flexors, hamstrings, and quads, all tight muscles in many endurance athletes.
Can improve hip flexibility and strengthen other leg muscles. From plank pose, step your right foot to the outside of your right hand. Back knee can remain up or down, for more strength or more length.
A gentle spinal twist to open the hips and stretch the chest, shoulders, and back. From a seated position, cross the left leg over the right and twist spine to the right lifting spine long as you twist.
Image Credit: Duke Recreation & Physical Education, October 2019