Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yoga and Sea Kayaking

I have been integrating yoga movements in training for sea kayaking, judo and snowboarding for some time. In my judo coaching/instruction I am amazed at how many young athletes have insufficient strength to demonstrate the plank. Since sea kayaking involves trunk rotation I have been practicing the warrior poses and triangle positions. In standing postures I make sure I am activating the abdominal muscles particularly the transversus. I have no specific skill in instructing yoga, but the basic yoga movements seem to me to make a lot of sense as a warmup and training for the variety of extreme movements expected in some sports. I have been using the Sun Salutation as a warmup for snow boarding and kayaking; but depending on the time of day, I usually avoid the forward bend part of the sequence and modify by bending the knees. Some time ago I picked up a Power Yoga book and I have a few key exercises I use to maximize trunk stabilization. I have also found the PX90 yoga DVD to be an additional resource and a alternative style; some of the positions I include in my exercise routine weekly.

I don't use every exercise and modify movements to suit my limitations. I often combine posture and rotation movements on a ball and use a paddle to assist in gauging the amount of trunk rotation I need.

I am also cautious about some poses and positions: forward flexion could be a high risk manouevre and this may be increased if forceful torsion is added. For me, inverted poses are potentially stressful for my neck and I avoid extreme flexion or twisting of my knees.

There are a multitude of styles and instructors within the broad scope of yoga. The key elements posture control, relaxed breathing, body awareness are invaluable benefits. Pushing beyond your available range of movement is not recommended. And twisting of the lumbar spine can impose too much stress on the disc.

I think a reasonable training goal is to replicate through exercise sport specific sequences that are meaningful to your activity and sport. If I can't touch my toes in a runners pose or include some rotation of the cervical and thoracic spine through the warrior position one and two, I may have some difficulty doing my roll, lay back, and or reach onto back deck of the kayak. The photo at top shows - clambering in, on or about the kayak in practice or in a real sea situation requires both strength and flexibility.