Why Yoga is Popular with Triathletes
Swimming – Ujjayi breathing, in a yoga practice and in pranayama, extends your overall breath length when practiced regularly over time. This improves the efficiency of your breath whist training and competing, particularly if you struggle to do 2 complete breaths with your head down in front crawl.
Cycling – many yoga postures help develop core strength which is so important for cyclists, such as upward raised leg pose below. The quads and knees can be strengthened and supported with squats and the forward bending action of cycling can be counter-posed with backbends. Typical beneficial postures are urdhva prastra padasana (upward raised leg pose) & dvipada pitham (2-foot support).
Running – has a tendency to shorten ligaments and tendons, particularly so if you are a runner first and a triathlete second. Most yoga postures help lengthen them and increase flexibility. Staying in yoga postures also helps build strength and stamina.
The mind – there is a tendency to over-process and analyse what we are doing in all aspects of our lives, particularly when training for an event. A regular yoga practice gives you the chance to still the constant chatter in your mind. You can work your body and breath without measuring, comparing, competing. This letting go, being with yourself and noticing how you are, in each moment, can open you up to further possibilities.
Sleep – athletes know that good sleep is an important part of their schedule, particularly the night before an event, and ma
ny yoga students comment on how well they sleep after a yoga class. Yoga teachings talk about AGNI, which can be described as our metabolism or digestive fire. It is said that when Agni is strong you are in good health. Twisting postures support healthy Agni. The ancient medical system of Ayurveda describes Agni as being at its strongest between 10am-2pm and 10pm-2am. It therefore suggests that you eat your main meal in the middle of day and eat nothing after 7pm in the evening so that night-time Agni can work on recovery, growth and repair rather than processing a large, late evening meal. This may explain how sleep and healthy eating patterns can improve performance. Try it for a few days – you will wake up feeling different!