This week, Canadian National Junior Development Team skier Frédérique Vézina, who trains with the Pierre-Harvey Training Centre in Quebec, writes about her favourite recovery activity – yoga — and admits she was a sceptic at first.
Yoga training can be as important as the most hardcore interval sessions if you get yourself into it. It isn’t always easy and can be a real challenge.
I was a little skeptical and thought I was wasting my time when my coach first introduced me to yoga some years ago. But relaxing is part of training and is mandatory to achieve top notch recovery. Yoga is now my favorite recovery activity.
If you have thought of yoga as soft, I welcome you to one of our modified sessions that our CNEPH coach and physical trainer Charles Castonguay specifically prepared for us. Let me tell you, it’s not for softies! Ask the boys of my team and the few braves that sometimes join us. Yoga is good at any time of the year and can be used not only to relax, but to strengthen.
The Workout: Yoga, cross-country skiing oriented
Then things start to slowly increase in difficulty when we move into the Chair pose, the Eagle pose and the various Warrior poses. (If this sounds like Chinese to you, for more information and photos, check out yogajournal.com)
As if doing yoga wasn’t enough body contortions, Charles adds some movements to the positions to strengthen up our core and small muscles that we didn’t even know existed. We do positions such as the Full Boat, Crane, Headstand, Peacock, and Upward Plank!
They hurt and make you sweat without moving much – just staying over your tiny mattress. It is a perfect way to relieve the bad toxins out of your body after a large training and helps your muscles relax in a way you couldn’t even imagine.
Cool down: By the end of a 45-60 minute session, the last pose – the Corpse – is one of total relaxation: you just lay there, and it is one of the most challenging. You have to meditate to only focus on your breathing, to live in the moment, and forget everything else, EVERYTHING! It’s just you and your breathing for the five most relaxing minutes.
After the session, your body feels lighter and stronger; it provides a great relaxed sensation.
The effects: Yoga poses and contortions are also excellent ways to stretch your muscles which can diminish your chances of acquiring injuries throughout your training and racing season. It also helps increases the circulation of the lymphatic system, ideal during the flu season!
Yoga is a mindfulness-based stress reduction that benefits your strength, flexibility, and immune system. It is also a great getaway from studying, racing, working or anything else by bringing us balance! It is important to remember that it takes a lot of practice to become flexible as shown on the nicest photos we can see. That is what makes the challenge even more fun and another reason why I like it. After all, it’s all about improvements!
— Stephanie Drolet contributed reporting