This third set of yoga poses for swimmers focuses on opening the spine, torso and ribcage from the mid to upper back, to achieve greater rotation mid-stroke. The twist starts in the mid back, not the lower lumbar or hips. Keep the spine straight – head extended, chin in neutral position. In the seated poses, keep the sit-bones both on the floor, weight evenly distributed.
Chair pose w/ twist R/L. Use the leverage of the elbow on the outside thigh to actively – but gently – twist the mid and upper back. Keep the knees aligned, the hips even and facing forward. The twist originates from the mid back, not the lower back, and not from opening the knees. [Advanced: reach the lower hand to the floor next to your foot, the upper hand toward the ceiling. Keep the knees aligned]. Hold pose for 5 breaths; repeat each side twice, switching sides back and forth.
Half lord of the fishes (ardha matsyendrasana). Focus on keeping both seat bones firmly planted on the ground, the twist should originate in the mid back, not in hips or lower back. This pose will open the back and build muscles for the rotation of the crawl and back strokes.
Revolved triangle. This pose almost perfectly mimes the body in motion between strokes, with the rotation of the mid- upper torso. Focus on lengthening the spine: on each inhale reach the top of the head toward the front wall, on the exhale come deeper into the twist and arm extension. The upper arm should point directly at the ceiling in a straight line with the lower arm. Keep the hips squared to the front of the mat.
Marichyasana C. There are several variations on Marichyasana, shown is version “C” which incorporates a twisting of the mid back. Like half lord of the fishes, both seat bones in the buttocks should be kept on the ground. Use the arm that crosses over on the knee to come deeper into the twist, but don’t over-twist.
If you’re coaching a swim team in the Chicago area, call me at (312) 671-6453 to discuss how I can help you to add yoga to the team’s fitness regimen.
Check out PART I: YOGA FOR SWIMMERS INTRODUCTION and PART II: YOGA FOR SWIMMERS: OPEN THE ARMS AND SHOULDERS in this series.