A really important part of triathlon and swim training is yoga. I spend a chapter in my book, The Complete Guide to Triathlon Swimming on it. Here are some of the benefits I have listed:
Flexibility: Yoga does involve stretching the muscles. But there is more to it than that. People often ask me, “Is stretching good”? Usually, the answer is that just stretching itself may not be good for you, as stretching too much or stretching cold muscles may actually cause injuries. Yoga incorporates breathing into stretches, and working with the whole body, not just specific muscles. This is a much healthier approach when it comes to improving flexibility. And the more flexible your hips, legs, ankles, arms and shoulders are, the easier it will be to kick, recover the arms, rotate the hips, and properly slice the hands into the water with full extension.
Concentration: This is another great benefit to an athlete undertaking the 3-sport challenge. Improved concentration levels allow you to focus, and we all know how focused you must be just to complete the swim! Blocking out distractions is something you need to be able to do- whether it’s concentrating on a technique or drill during practice, or dealing with the frenzied start of a race. And the improved ability to stay relaxed, calm and centered will definitely work to your advantage during a triathlon, where many unpredictable situations may arise.
Balance: Practicing yoga will improve your balance, both on land and in the water. In my swim clinics, we work on “balancing on your back” and “balancing on your side” in the water. Yoga not only helps with these drills, but allows you to streamline easier, and get more out of each stroke. This of course means saving even more energy for the rest of your race.
Finally, yoga works the core muscles. Most of the yoga poses you will find will enhance your core conditioning.