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Girl on an adventure: yoga for athletes

Good’s wellness writer Rachel Grunwell is gearing up (literally) for her latest adventure – a 100km bike ride from Christchurch to Akaroa on March 25. In this blog she talks about the benefits of yoga for athletes. 

Lunges

I’m a qualified yoga teacher and so one thing my coach Richard Greer, from Team CP, hasn’t had to do, is lecture me about the importance of doing something like yoga in my training plan. I know that stretching is so important in any training schedule, whether you are an elite or amateur athlete.

I teach a weekly class for runners at the GetRunning studio in Auckland and so I’m used to being the one doing the lecturing! Yoga essentially helps you to “unfurl” and to move your body more freely. It can importantly strengthen your core, help you to strengthen and fire certain muscles you target, but perhaps the biggest benefit is it helps to de-stress and calm the mind. Decode: It can help you to move well and to be a nicer person to be around!

Pigeon stretch

With cycling, time on the bike strengthens your legs, but it can also tighten up your chest, hips and compromise particularly your lower back area.

Richard describes being on a bike, like “being in a closed position”. So, he likes to get his athletes stretching out.

Some good yoga poses to try are things like twists, lunges, anything that targets the hip flexors, lower lumbar, those kinds of things.

Here are some yoga poses to try:

Lunges. This hits the hip-flexors & hamstrings. It releases tension around the hips nicely. Stay in this position for a minute or two each side and breathe through the stretch and soften into it.

Pigeon stretch. There are several different versions of the pigeon stretch. One of the most effective stretches is the yoga pigeon forward fold which is a strong stretch for the outer hip, which includes the glutes, deep hip rotators such as the piriformis and it’s amazing on the IT band. This stretch is easiest though to access (for all abilities) in the reclining pigeon stretch position (which is pictured above). Just take big deep breaths through this stretch and remember to relax the shoulders in this position too. It’s a goodie! Spend a few minutes doing this stretch on each side.

Rachel is Good’s wellness columnist and the director of the lifestyle website www.inspiredhealth.co.nz . Follow her on Inspired Health’s Facebook and Instagram
Hero image by Jessie Casson.