Swimming and yoga go hand-in-hand. In fact, getting out of the pool after a serious lap session feels similar to the after-effects of an hour-long yoga class: stretched, strong, and in a state of zen.
The good news: swimming takes the shoulders through a full range of motion so a good baseline of flexibility is inherent to the sport.
The bad news: the constant use of shoulders to propel through the water can result in tightness from overuse.
The goal: develop a good foundation of openness in the shoulders, while keeping length in the core. This is how swimmers maximize their full range of motion and use the entire extension of the body to their advantage. Think of the body as one piece.
First, focus on lengthening in both directions from the navel while swimming. This will bring alignment and length and keep arm exhaustion to a minimum.
Next, practice these four poses, a mix of shoulder openers and core- and back-strengtheners.
Josh Schrei is a yoga teacher at Body in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and an endurance athlete. He placed 9th among 40- to 49-year-old males in the Jemez 50K Trail Race last year. In October, he’s planning to do 3,000 sun salutations around South India’s sacred Arunachala mountain to raise money for Water.org.