Yoga for triathletes

Story highlights

  • Using yoga as part of your overall conditioning can decrease injury risk
  • Yoga can enhance functional mobility and stability for triathletes
  • These poses address the various segments of a triathlon

Dana Santas is the creator of Radius Yoga Conditioning, a yoga style designed to help athletes move, breathe and focus better. She's the yoga trainer for the Atlanta Braves, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Lightning, Orlando Magic and dozens of pros in the National Football League, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association and Major League Baseball.

(CNN)Training for a Triathlon? Yoga can help!

Because triathlons require mastery of three very different sports, triathletes must train their bodies for peak performance in all the ranges of motion associated with swimming, biking and running. That's where yoga comes in, because it can take your body through several planes of movement while focusing on strength and mobility in the areas you need it most.
Too often yoga is an afterthought, literally, the thing you think to do after a triathlon for recovery. Although restorative yoga can be very effective post-race, or even after a grueling training session, using yoga to enhance functional mobility and stability as part of your overall conditioning can increase performance and decrease injury risk. But I'm not suggesting adding hourlong yoga classes to your already intense training schedule! Simply integrate appropriate postures into what you're already doing to get the most benefits in the least amount of time.
    As a triathlete, you need an open chest with stable, mobile shoulders and hips for swimming; integrated core strength with a stable, functional pelvis for biking; and leg strength and flexibility with knee stability for running. That's why I suggest the postures below, which address all those areas, often at the same time.
    Cobra pose
    Strengthens the back, enhances shoulder and mid-back mobility, opens the chest, lengthens the core
    While on your stomach, put your legs together and your hands next to your mid-ribcage with your elbows bent, hugging the sides of your body. Press through the base of your palms as though you're trying to slide your upper body forward through your arms to create length in your spine. Inhale as you begin to straighten your arms (but maintain a slight bend, as pictured) to lift up and arc back. Exhale and focus on drawing the bottom points of your shoulder blades slightly in and down toward your waist. Keep your elbows hugged into your sides. Take five long deep breaths. Rest and repeat.
    Dolphin
    Promotes proper pelvic/hip function, strengthens the core and shoulder girdle, enhances shoulder mobility, increases leg flexibility
    From a neutral all-fours position on hands and knees, place your forearms down, keeping your elbows aligned under your shoulders. Interlace your fingers to form a triangle shape with your clasped hands and arms. Curl your toes under and begin to straighten your legs as you press your body up into an inverted "V" position. Your back should remain straight with your core engaged; if you can't straighten your legs without rounding your back, keep a bend in your knees. Take five long, deep breaths. Rest on hands and knees for a few breaths and repeat.
    Reverse warrior
    Enhances hip and shoulder mobility, opens the chest, strengthens and lengthens the core, promotes knee stability, increa