Water is Embracing . . . Yielding.
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on March 30th, 2010

Last Saturday my yoga teacher suggested we focus on the stability and steadfastness of earth as a theme for class. Standing poses – like warrior -leave me feeling tippy, at least the first couple of times we do them. They can also make my hamstrings complain at the strain of holding the semi-squat.

When I concentrated on feeling the solidity of earth, and on gravity drawing my hips toward the ground (rather than trying to hold them up with my hamstrings), it did help ground me in the position while seeming to shift the load from muscles to skeleton. Not bad, I almost felt I could hold it indefinitely.

Themes like that are common in yoga classes, but rare in swimming practices. How can we make swimming practice more like yoga? Focusing on a favorable quality of water would be a good starting place.  The stability of earth is an obvious contrast with how most of us experience water. Water’s lack of stability and steadfastness is a nearly universal problem. We sink. We feel a loss of control. We get tired faster and don’t enjoy it much.

But just as warrior poses became more easy and comfortable by focusing on a helpful property of earth, we can do the same with swimming and water. Reframe swimming, and our aquatic environment in the most positive way, by focusing on these qualities in your next swim:

  • Water is embracing
  • Water is yielding.

Superman Glide (SG) the first drill in Lesson One of the Easy Freestyle sequence is the best way to enjoy those sensations.

Relaxed hands; hanging head, arms shoulder-wide, legs streamlined

Extending the bodyline, aligning the arms on shoulder-width tracks, hanging the head, relaxing the hands and streamlining the legs all initiate habits that will be critical in all three face-down strokes – crawl, butterfly, breaststroke. But the broader focus on cooperating with gravity and sinking into the water’s support harmonize you with the water’s most beneficial qualities. Spend a few minutes on short SG repeats at the beginning of practice and you’ll be surprised how much better and easier everything that follows can feel.  And after 20 or 30 practices that start this way, you may find the feeling is permanent.

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