Yoga for Dragons: 6 Yoga Poses For Dragon Boat Paddlers

Yoga for Dragons: 6 Yoga Poses For Dragon Boat Paddlers

I have been incorporating yoga as part of dragon boat trainings since I had the opportunity to lead and design our team’s training programs as we prepare for races.

For those unfamiliar with the sport, dragon boating simply put, is a boat of 20 paddlers, a drummer and a steers person paddling to cross the finish faster than their competition. It’s a team sport in its purest form that encompasses the elements of power, speed, synchronization and endurance. (source: While it utilizes the full body strength,  it requires a lot of shoulder and back movement, which can sometimes result in injuries, if not properly conditioned and trained.

The key is too keep the poses simple. Dragon boat land trainings are usually 1-2 boat-fulls, or  20-40 paddlers. This gives you very little space to do corrections which are essential to avoid further injuries.

Here are a top 6  yoga poses our team does in between paddling sessions:

  1. Thread the needle

Most paddlers are not into yoga, hence the simplicity of the pose makes it easy for them to execute, while reaping the benefits of the posture as it opens up the muscles of the chest and shoulders.

  1. Cobra

Paddling for hours can bring stiffness to the back, and fatigue in the arms and shoulder. This pose is paddler’s favorites as it brings instant relief form all of that. It stretches the chest, shoulders, lower back, and strengthens the wrists and spine. It is very therapeutic, especially when combined with gentle twists.

  1. Boat

I wonder if it is called a boat pose for a reason, but it definitely helps in strengthening the core which is essential in paddling. Twists can be added to activate the obliques (also because dragon paddling technique requires twisting). This pose also strengthens the hamstrings, which can be stiff if paddling drills require kicking of the boat.

  1. Pigeon pose

Dragon boat paddlers do a lot of running as part of our endurance traings. This is the universe’s gift to tight hips. It’s a simple yet powerful hip opener, and it is also our team’s go cool down pose especially after a cardio session

  1. Reverse prayer hands

This may sound simple, but trust me, less than 50% of paddlers can do it. The pose can modified by simply grabbing the elbows from behind. This became a paddler’s standard measure of shoulder tightness, which is common especially after hours of paddling

  1. Seated Twists

The modified Marichiyasana C, because most paddlers won’t be able to do the full pose. It stretches the shoulders, strengthens the spine and back which gets abused during water training sessions.