Yoga poses that are designed to build muscle strength and increase balance and flexibility can be used as part of triathlon training. Yoga increases relaxation and relieves the effects of stress. It also enhances focus and concentration. The strength-training exercises that yoga practitioners perform can help to prevent joint injury and the relaxation exercises that form a part of the practice help to keep muscles long and supple. Here are some popular yoga poses and how they can benefit triathletes.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend
The wide-legged forward bend can be of particular benefit to triathlon training. It lengthens the hamstrings and calves and helps to relax the muscles of the back, neck, shoulders and arms. The wide-legged forward bend also calms the nervous system and promotes relaxation.
Perform the wide-legged forward bend by standing with your legs in a straddle position. Inhale deeply and look toward the ceiling; exhale and bend forward until you can touch the ground. You don't have to put your hands flat on the floor, tenting the fingertips will do.
Press into the floor through the balls of your feet and your heels with equal pressure. Lift the outside edge of your foot up and press into the floor with the inside edge of your foot, so that you don't hurt your ankle.
The victory squat strengthens the muscles of the quads, glutes, calves, ankles and feet while allowing the hamstrings to relax. You can perform the victory squat in sequence with the wide legged forward bend several times for maximum benefit.
To move into the victory squat, stand with your legs hip-width apart with the feet parallel. Lift your arms up so that your palms face one another. Inhale deeply, then exhale into a squatting position as if you were sitting back into an invisible chair. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds before moving into another position.
Warrior II also strengthens the muscles of the legs. It improves balance and posture, strengthens the arms and shoulders, and increases core strength.
Begin in a wide-legged straddle position. Inhale deeply and lift your arms into a T position, so that they remain parallel to the floor. Bend one knee until it comes directly over the ankle. Look out over the fingers of that hand.
Imagine that your forward foot has four corners and distribute your weight evenly into the four corners of your foot. Press into the floor through the ball of your forward foot. Use your big toe for balance and keep the arch of that foot lifted. It's very important to keep the bent knee centered over the ankle. You should be able to see your toes extending beyond the bent knee when you look down.
Hold the position for up to 30 seconds, then perform Warrior II on the opposite side by bending the other knee and looking out over the other hand.