A while back I went to a yoga class for the first time in about 6 months. It was the first yoga class organised by my local triathlon club so we started at the beginning. So as yoga goes it wasn’t particularly demanding but it was definitely a good wake-up call for my brain and my body.
I discovered why my shoulder hurts, I realised my hips were stiffer than I knew, my calves were solid as a block, one leg could hardly move compared to the other one and my ankle still hurts from when I sprained it 6 months ago.
I haven’t managed to stick with the club yoga sessions as life got too busy but with the current Co-Vid 19 lock down I’m replacing my swimming with some yoga. This morning I did a yoga session via Zoom with my triathlon friend and yoga guru Michelle Dunn. And guess what I learned this time? My calves are solid and my ankle still hurts! So time to double down on the pre-hab, re-hab and yoga!
A lot of people will be surprised I even do some yoga. In fact if you asked my 30 year old self I’d probably laugh! I can’t touch my toes, I can’t sit still and I’ve got the concentration the size of a flea. Over the years I’ve tried it on and off several times but hated it.
The thing that made a difference was finding a class and an instructor that could cope with my limitations and teach me how to do it properly. And now I try and make it part of my routine whenever I can.
So here are some things I’ve learned from yoga and how it’s helped me as a triathlete.
It has helped me to work on my flexibility and has taught me how to stretch effectively.
I have learned some new stretches that I use after a training session that have helped to manage some of my injuries
It’s been good for my co-ordination and proprioception to move in a way that’s different to swimming, cycling and running.
It has helped to improve my posture and teach me about good posture.
It has helped me become aware of where my body is stiff and the in balances between left and right sides.
It’s good for my balance – it first taught me how bad my balance was and has since helped to improve it.
Yoga is also about core stability and strength and I have done yoga sessions that have made my arms and abs sore for days in muscles I didn’t know existed.
It’s calming! The few minutes of relaxation at the end of a yoga class was the first time I realised I might benefit from some mindfulness.
It’s not against the clock, there’s no heart rate or watts to measure or distance to complete which makes a refreshing change. It’s just about you and your body.
It’s worth trying a few different classes and a few different instructors before you decide it’s not for you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for modifications and definitely make use of blocks and bands when they’re available.
It’s great to learn something new. There have been times when I’ve been injured and getting nowhere with triathlon training. But going to a yoga class and learning a new pose has really helped my sense of achievement and satisfaction.
I tried yoga lots of times over the years and never really got on with it mainly because I didn’t know how to do it and most of the classes I went to were far to advanced. So I’d end up sitting on the mat watching and getting bored while the instructor ignored me. So it definitely helps to find the right class and an instructor that will help.
With the current co-vid lock down and no swimming pools I’m seeing it as an opportunity to work on my mobility and deal with all those niggling injuries.