What Works: I’m looking to loosen up and get stronger in my paddling. Can yoga help? And which poses are best?
Hey Posing Paddler: Whether you prefer paddling, kayaking, or canoeing, it’s important to properly warm your body up and gain flexibility to perform at your optimal abilities without injury.
It’s key to stretch and target the primary muscle groups used during paddle before you hit the water — including the spine, biceps, triceps, spine, core, and shoulders.
Try adding the five yoga poses detailed below to your pre-paddling routine and let us know if they work for you!
Cat-Cows will warm-up and stabilize your spinal muscles, as well increase spinal stability — all of which are vital to safe paddling. Be sure to have your lower back guiding your movements.
To begin, come to all fours with your knees stacked under your ankles and your hands pressed under your shoulders. Inhale, gaze up and lift your tailbone toward the sky, as you widen through your chest. Exhale, tuck and round, chin to chest, as you tuck your pelvis.
*Repeat for 30 seconds –1 minute.
2. Downward-Facing Dog
Downward-Facing Dog is an important pose to practice before most activities especially paddling, as it stretches and strengthens the shoulders, biceps, triceps, and the back. It also lengthens and strengthens the hips, quads, calves and hamstrings.
To begin, come to all fours with your knees stacked under your ankles and your hands pressed under your shoulders and then lengthen your hips to the ceiling with a soft bend in your knees. Press through your thumb and pointer finger and rotate your shoulders away from your eyes with strength. Lengthen your spine. Option to pedal through the feet, bending one knee and then the other.
*Hold for 30 seconds to a minute
3. Revolved Chair Pose
Chair Pose will warm-up your quads, shoulders, chest, and belly. It also helps strengthen the leg, shoulder muscles, and the core at large.
Come to standing and then sit down low with your big toes either touching or your feet hip-width distance apart. Keep your knees stacked over your ankles. Widen through your chest and externally rotate your arms. From there, inhale as you draw your hands to pray at heart center. On your exhale, twist to the right. Release and then come back in and try on your left side.
*Hold this pose for at least 20 seconds on both sides.
4. Standing Forward Fold
This pose will stretch the spine and hamstrings, and release the head, neck, and shoulders. It’s a great pose to practice before and after paddling.
Begin by standing with your feet hip-width distance apart and then soften your knees and roll down. Lightly touch the group or allow your hands to dangle. Release your head and neck. Allow your hands to dangle, interlace opposite biceps, or grab hold of your spines. Focus on lengthening through the spine and releasing any tension in the head, neck or shoulders.
*Hold this pose for 30 seconds, at least.
5. Boat Pose
This pose will stretch the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine, while strengthening the shoulders and core. It’ll also improve general posture.
Begin by come to a seat. Place your feet firmly on the floor with your fit a couple inches in front of your knees. Lengthen your spine and widen through your sternum. Lean back on the edges of your glutes and secure your hands under your knees. If you can keep your spine long, slowly lift your feet to a 90 degree angle. Option to release your arms by your sides. Engage your core. Hold and breathe.
*Hold this pose for three rounds of 15 seconds.
Remember to always listen to your body to strive for sensation rather than pain when trying this sequence. Ready, set, paddle away!