Paddling for hours often results in feeling tight in the chest, shoulders, and back. But certain yoga postures for kayakers, canoers, and rowers will unlock the chest and upper back, and release areas of tension in the shoulders and lower back.
“When I get deeper into certain positions, the sensations I feel teach me about my body,” says Ben Marr, professional whitewater kayaker. “In yoga and in kayaking, new sensations are new lessons, and yoga helps me to control my body and use finer movements. Plus, yogic breathing can stop a cramp, calm discomfort, and aid in a physically difficult sequence. It’s cool to experience. I’ve been able to calm a racing mind in critical situations on the river by breathing.”
Do this yoga-for-kayakers sequence before and after your outing for better performance on the water, and less achiness the next day. If you’re new to yoga, set a goal to do it for 20 minutes, three times a week. Hold a pose until the tension releases, or do it for a set time, like 30 seconds. Cycle through moves pre- or post-workout, or as an active recovery- day activity. Some discomfort is OK, but if a pose is painful, back off slightly. As with any sport, getting better takes practice.