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Just Keep Swimming by Sloane Kusmack

As long as I’ve been participating in triathlons, which is about 10 years now, my yoga practice has been along for the ride.

Here are my top 3 ways yoga has helped me through triathlons.

1.Pranayama. Our breath. We talk about it all the time in yoga class, but how does it apply to your life and activities? For me, the importance of breath control and awareness become pretty clear when I am in the water with a few hundred people. I start feeling a bit anxious, my heart starts racing and I start taking water into my mouth and thinking that a return to shore seems like a better option. Being aware of my breath and how it is affecting my physical body and mental state helps me to slow down, refocus and move with confidence. The same is true during my yoga practice.

2.I am in control of my experience. I choose. In yoga we often talk about being in control of our own experience. During class, we ask you to listen to your body, honour your body, choose positive words and thoughts and find the good even in postures that challenge you. The same is true on the water and on the course. Last year, within the first 100 meters of the swim, I was punched in the face by accident, got a bloody nose and lost my breath. I was panicking and the over anxious part of me thought my days were over! I managed to make my way over to a support kayak to compose myself. Heading back to shore was looking pretty appealing at this point as I still had a lot of swim to go. My ego assured me people would understand if I did.

Heading back to shore only enticed me for a few moments when I decided that that was not the experience that I wanted or trained for.

Once I caught my breath at the kayak, I decided to carry on and not let this one experience dictate how the rest of my day would be. The same is true when presented with a challenging pose or one that is not my favourite. I can choose to find the good, move forward with it, and be glad that I stuck with it or I can “swim back to shore,” the decision is up to me.

I finished the swim, felt good and had a great race. Now I just have a good story to go along with it!

3. Ego. In triathlon, you had better leave your ego on the beach. I have been passed by people of all kinds, younger and older. At first this was difficult to accept but now I can bless them as they go by, be inspired by them and wish them well. Often in yoga, we are tempted by our ego to make the same shape as our neighbour, to be as strong as them or as calm or flexible as them. Life gets a lot easier when we recognize that we are all on our own journey, running our own race, doing our own yoga based on our current abilities and that all we need to focus on is “do what you can do, with what you have, where you are.” -Theodore Roosevelt

“The only person you need to be better than is the person you were yesterday.”

Sloane teaches Restorative yoga Wednesdays 5:15-6:30pm


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