Yoga and kayaking make a great combination. Yoga helps us focus and relax. The practice also teaches us to be more aware of our bodies and to take care of ourselves. If you feel physical pain or discomfort during or after kayaking you may want to try some stretching to see if it helps.
Wide angle forward fold is one of my favorite poses because it opens the chest and shoulders at the same time as it stretches the back of the legs and the outside of the hips. It feels great before and after paddling and you can do it with your gear on too!
1. To start, take a wide stance with your feet and make sure that your feet are pointed straight ahead or very slightly turned in. If you’re standing on a mat the outer edges of your feet are in line with the outer edges of the mat.
2. Inhale, raise and extend your arms out from your shoulders. (photo 1)
3. Exhale, clasp your hands behind your chest.
4. Inhale, open your chest and shoulders by straightening your arms behind your back. (photo 2)
5. Exhale, fold forward at the waist and lift your hands off of your back so that they are moving toward the ground behind your head. (photos 3 and 4) Some people are more flexible in the shoulders and will be able to move their hands further from their bodies. Remember that you’re ok wherever you are in the pose and keep gently working that chest and shoulder opening.
6. Hold the pose for 5 deep and easy breaths. While you’re in the pose make sure that your legs are dynamic. Flex your thighs to lift your kneecaps. Be sure to keep a very slight bend in your knees so that you don’t hyperextend them.
7. To come out of the pose inhale all the way up and exhale to release. (photo 2)