Yoga for Paddlers

August 21, 2018

Paddling, both whitewater & flat water, can create tension or stiffness in the shoulders from constant rotation, the abdominal obliques from twisting, and hips from keeping the body stable while in the boat.

Increasing your range of motion and flexibility in these areas can help reduce risk of injury & keep you on the water longer!

Below are some key postures I use to target muscle groups used when kayaking, canoeing, rafting or packrafting.



Side Bend

  • Interlace fingers together/clasp hands, rotate palms upward
  • Inhale to lengthen spine & stand tall
  • Exhale to extend to one side, keeping feet grounded
  • Take 5 full breaths; the bigger the breath, the deeper you stretch the muscles between the ribs. Repeat other side


Shoulder Opener w/ Lifted Chest

  • Interlace fingers behind back
  • Lift chest up & draw shoulders open
  • Hold 5-10 breaths


Shoulder Opener w/ Forward Fold

  • Bend at hips and fold forward, micro-bending at knees
  • Draw chin towards chest
  • Hold 5-10 breaths



Hands Under Heels

  • Bend the knees and round the upper back
  • Place hands under heals, palms facing up
  • Cupping the heels, try to line forearms up behind shins
  • Take 5-10 deep breaths; the bigger the breath the deeper you stretch the area between the shoulder blades



Twisted Chair

  • Bend knees and lower hips as if sitting in a chair with hands together at chest
  • Inhale to lengthen spine
  • Exhale and twist over to one side, trying to keep knees aligned with each other
  • Try to hook the elbow on outside of leg for deeper twist
  • Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat other side



Eagle Arms

  • Stack one elbow on top of other; bottom elbow pressing up, top elbow pressing down
  • Pull elbows away from body, then down
  • Aim to grab opposite hands
  • Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat other side




Reverse Hand Clasp

  • First, stretch the triceps for 5-10 breaths. (Lift arm up, bend the elbow and grab the tricep with opposite hand; extend spine in opposite direction for deeper stretch)
  • Keep initial tricep stretch, but release opposite hand
  • Wrap opposite hand around back, palm facing out, and work it up towards mid back
  • Hold 5-10 breaths, working hands toward each other




Seated Spinal Twist

  • Bend knee and place the foot on the outside of the opposite extended leg
  • Inhale to lift up and sit tall
  • Exhale to turn towards bent knee side, holding knee or hooking opposite elbow on the outside of bent leg
  • Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat other side



Neck Stretch A

  • Drop ear down towards shoulder
  • Extend opposite hand and actively reach away, palm facing down
  • Hold 5-10 breaths, move to “Neck Stretch B”



Neck Stretch B

  • Bend extended arm’s elbow, palm facing up
  • Wrap opposite hand behind back, aiming to clasp tricep
  • Draw shoulder down via tricep clasp
  • Hold 5-10 breaths. Repeat A and B other side.