Sage Rountree has worked with triathletes and runners as a trainer and a yoga instructor. She began her own yoga training during the months leading up to the birth of her first child. "(Yoga) felt good when I was pregnant, so I thought it would feel good when I was running," said the 38-year-old.
At that point she was a competitive runner completing her first marathon in 2002. She found the sport challenging and rewarding, but ultimately painful. She brought yoga into her training regimen and much, if not all, of the pain she felt passed as her body loosened and her core muscles became stronger.
When she began triathlon training, competing in her first event in 2005, yoga was as important as bicycling, swimming or running. More importantly for beginners, she said, results can be seen in as little as three weeks of consistent practice.
Sage's suggestions for an initial yoga routine are listed at the bottom of this page. However, she does offer a few words of caution for the triathlete attempting yoga for the first time. "This isn't a competition," she said she often tells her students." [Triathletes] are generally very competitive people and they see yoga the same way. But this is a time when they can take a break from that and do things differently."
The general rule of thumb with yoga is to enter the poses slowly, say over a period of a few breaths, hold the pose for the recommended time and then exit the pose as slowly as it was entered. Like any physical activity there is a chance of injury if pushed too far. Use caution when performing these poses, be aware of your body and don't do anything that hurts.
The poses Sage recommends:
Hold a long line up the whole body for five to ten breaths, take a break and then repeat. For even more of a challenge, practice on the forearms.
From a deep lunge, raise your arms overhead. Hold this pose for five slow breaths.
Keep your right knee to the right of your right hip and fold your upper body over your right shin. Avoid anything that hurts the knee. Repeat other side.
IT band twist:
With your left knee crossed over your right knee, drop both knees to the right. Hold for 15 breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
Rountree said these poses are designed to increase core-muscle power and "open" the hips, increasing flexibility. Staying in the poses for longer periods helps focus concentration.