The Gift of Reciprocity: The Link Between Yoga and Swimming
In this blog post, Bella Prana friend, Jane Sandwood, shares about the connection of the practice of yoga and swimming with parallels of body awareness, breath control and strength and flexibility.
Swimmers use nearly every muscle in their bodies, according to Dr. G. John Mullen of Swimming World Magazine. Much like swimming, yoga is more than just an exercise. Both open up pathways to a better quality of life for practitioners and athletes. An interesting point to consider is how both activities can support each other. So, to that end, what major benefits do yoga and swimming have and how are they linked to each other?
Yoga, as a practice, will help push one’s awareness regarding muscle strength, lung power, and stamina as the different poses all target specific body areas like legs, core, arms, back, and shoulders. Swimming, as an activity, will push one’s awareness of the strength of their arms, legs, and lungs as these are required to speed up movement and go farther in the water. An increase in one’s body awareness helps athletes and active persons to improve their movement in an effective and efficient manner, according to Jeff Grace. Swimmers that dabble in yoga and yogis that dabble in swimming can both improve their respective body awareness by providing an opportunity for them to assess the body areas or performance targets that they still need to work on.
Controlling one’s breathing is one of the fundamental basics of swimming safety. Incidentally, SwimJim emphasizes that breath control is one of the major foundations of yoga practice. Swimmers may have amazing lung capacity but may need further help with pacing. They can improve their breath control by learning the different breathing patterns of yoga. Any yoga practitioner that may have the pace of breathing down but may need to improve their lung’s stamina can do so by doing laps regularly. So it is clear to see that swimming and yoga have a lot to contribute to each other regarding breathing and controlling it. Of course, it is important that these are done in increments so the body is not put under immense stress from the new activities.
Strength and Flexibility
Strength and flexibility are quite important in swimming as they can help swimmers turn better and have a wider range of motion while in the water, according to SwimOutlet. Yoga is an activity that targets both strength and flexibility in its practitioners. For example, doing Child’s Pose and Thread the Needle is effective in opening up the shoulders and these can benefit swimmers who need strong shoulders and arms. Yoga practitioners that are looking for low impact exercises can turn toward swimming to help build up their core strength by practicing freestyle swimming that requires tight control on the lines of the body.
Swimmers and yoga practitioners are both in the pursuit of stronger bodies and minds. It is a wonderful thought, then, that by practicing both they may drastically improve their overall performance. What practitioners and swimmers need to keep in mind is that the road towards physical, spiritual, and psychological improvement is not a race—it is a marathon. As such, each step must be planned and approached with care.
Blog contributed by: Jane Sandwood
For more discovery into your yoga practice, Bella Prana Yoga and Meditation, Tampa,FL offers in studio and virtual yoga classes of all levels.