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FITNESS Yoga for kayaking

Take the pain out of paddling

Lee Kennedy

Gaelforce West takes place on Saturday, August 21. The excitement is mounting, nerves are kicking in, and hopefully by now you have been putting in plenty of training. The second stage of the adventure race is a 1.6k kayak across Killary Harbour. Unless you are in the first 40 runners who will be in single kayaks, the boats used are tandem ‘sit on tops’ – user friendly by design.
Whether you are a strong or a weak paddler, the basic physical aspects of alignment, flexibility and core strength are vital – and yoga can serve you well.
All of our movements are powered by the torso – the abs and back work together to support the spine when we sit, stand, bend over, pick things up and exercise.
The core generally refers to the abdominal muscles group, but also requires the gluteus medius muscles at the side of your hips and the lumbar muscles, as well as the postural muscles of the back.
The goal is to balance muscle tension and build core muscle strength to protect the back from injury and maybe even help improve your posture.

The following yoga pose fully engages all four layers of the abdominals, more so than any other abdominal yoga posture:
  • Come on to your hands and knees.
  • Place your hands slightly forward of the shoulders, they should come in line with the shoulders once you are up in the posture.
  • Keep your feet hip-width apart.
  • Have your fingers pointing forward and arms locked straight by pressing the outer arms in.
  • Turn your toes under, lift your knees off the floor and straighten your legs.
  • Lift your inner thighs upwards and press back through the heels of your feet.
  • Tuck your tailbone in, keeping the buttocks in line with the spine and legs.
  • Roll back your shoulders and look slightly forwards.
  • Hold for 30 seconds – or longer if you are able.
  • Rest and repeat.

In the boat
To get more out of each stroke and better utilise the whole body in the sitting position try this:
Sitting down, notice the bone behind each cheek pressing through the flesh of the gluteus muscles. If the muscle gets pinched here it can result in discomfort. To sit more comfortably for longer periods in your boat, pull the glutes toward the stern, leaving the bones in your bum resting more directly against the seat.

This article is not a recommendation for your own practice but serves as interesting reading  for anyone thinking of going to a yoga class. As with any form of physical exercise, please consult your family doctor beforehand.

Lee Kennedy
qualified with The BKS Iyengar Yoga Association UK, the YTTC and Ana Forrest of Forrest Yoga. She specialises in pregnancy-related yoga and also studied with Janet Balaskas, founder of the Active Birth Foundation, UK. Visit or call 0863906343 for more information.