In the thick of training when volume is high and you’re laser focused on your A-race, other activities naturally fall by the wayside. The off-season is a perfect time to reconnect with old hobbies and explore new ones. In Dealing With Post-Race Blues I explain the science behind those crummy feelings we can experience at the start of off-season and my suggestion for dealing with these emotions is to channel your energy into personal and social activities unrelated to sport. There is a compromise, though, between intensive training and totally-off off-season. I still think it’s worthwhile to go at least two weeks without sports at the end of your season, and the itch to incorporate more activity will return naturally when your body and mind are ready (this might take a lot longer than two weeks if you’ve been training for a while or have had a particularly rigorous season). Rather than jumping right back into your sport, however, I encourage you to to try new ones.

At the beginning of my off-season, I tentatively attended a yoga class. The creepily-calm voiced instructor and candles were a little off-putting for me. Where were the beeping Garmins?! It certainly didn’t give me the same satisfaction of a long run or hard intervals on the bike. But I kept going, because I vaguely understood that yoga would help my mobility, prevent injury, and make me a stronger athlete. After a while, when I slowly built up to practicing three times a week, it suddenly dawned on me, “Hey, I actually like yoga.” I realized the shift came in my mindset when I stopped thinking of yoga as replacing triathlon. Yoga is totally incomparable to my main sport. Would I rather run than hold downward dog? You bet. But, once I thought of yoga as its own activity, I began to appreciate its unique joys and challenges.

I highly recommend using yoga as the gateway between the totally-off off season and the unstructured but more sport-focused off season of later months. Below is a guide to the different kinds of classes you can take to help determine what will work best in your off-season plans.

Types of Yoga (And What’s Best for You)

  • Vinyasa/Hatha/Flow/Power
    • These are all loosely the same, in that they’re more aerobic forms of yoga (mostly created in the 1980s to appeal to the Western fitness movement). As athletes, we’re attracted to these forms because they seem, you know, athletic. But be careful! Here are some points to consider…
        • It’s your off-season and you’re supposed to be recovering. Jacking up your heart rate, even if it’s not from your normal sport, is still stressing your body.
        • You’re not an experienced yogi and are likely to sacrifice form for aerobic intensity. This could easily lead to injury.
        • Even if your form is right, you’re still working different muscles in a pretty intense way. No need for DOMs in the off-season.
      • Every teacher will have a different style. So take a number of different classes with various instructors to see which style feels best for you. I’ve found that I like classes that start with a long warm up and then combine vinyasa flows with standing poses, so it’s not too aerobic but I’m not dying from too much stretching either.
  • Bikram
    • This one is Tawnee’s favorite!
    • Official Bikram classrooms are heated to nearly 105 degrees and 40 percent humidity, so be prepared to sweat.
    • Classes are standardized with a series of 26 basic yoga postures performed twice. Tawnee uses many of them in her movement assessments of athletes. For functional mobility, you should be able to do all of these (they’re harder than they look!)
  • Yin
    • This class teaches patience and resolution like that 0.2 miles at the end of a marathon 😉 Poses are held for a very long time, so for all you tight endurance athletes, be prepared to enter the pain cave and stay there. The positive side is that the poses are passive, so gravity does all the work. You just can’t grit your teeth! Relax. The point of yin yoga is to lengthen connective tissues.
  • Restorative
    • I think restorative yoga is the easier version of yin. You still hold poses for a while, but you get a lot of props (blocks, blankets, straps, pillows, etc.) so it’s more comfortable. There’s also a greater focus on relaxation and meditation with a substantial shavasana.   
  • Nidra
    • This has very little, if any, movement. The classes I’ve taken start with some light stretching before you lay down on the mat (with a blanket/pillow if you prefer). Then begins the best guided meditation you’ll ever experience! Forget those cheesy phone apps. This is the real deal. Nidra is supposed to get you into the deepest state of relaxation possible, while still being conscious (AKA awake). Many people report lucid dreaming during the session. I have! Even though there’s not much benefit to your physical body in this practice, it will do wonders for restoring your mental wellbeing.
  • Kundalini
    • This is a fluid and rather eccentric form of yoga, in my experience. Energetic movements and meditations (there’s definitely chanting in this one) are meant to release the “serpent” energy coiled up at the base of your spine. At the very least, I’d recommend taking a class to get you outside your comfort zone.

Dos and Don’ts of Yoga


  • Introduce yourself to the yoga teacher, and let her or him know you’re an endurance athlete. Then the teacher will probably be more aware of explaining the poses in simple English so you understand what to do. Some teachers (depending on their expertise and the size of the class) will cater the session to your needs/skill level.
  • Tell your instructor if you have any injuries or weaknesses. I always warn my teachers that I have insanely tight hamstrings, and during the class they’ll usually explain modifications I can do for hamstring-intense poses.
  • Take two blocks and a strap if they’re provided at the studio (most offer them for free). Use the blocks liberally to accommodate inflexibility. I stick one under my butt during malasana “yogi squat” and one on each side of my leg during any forward hamstring stretch.


  • Wear your Garmin and/or heart rate monitor!
    • Don’t treat yoga like your sport and try to get stats. Relax and enjoy. Besides, the beeping is pretty awkward when everyone’s silently meditating.
  • Compare yourself to (and get frustrated by) the other people in class. A yogi friend of mine calls it, “Staying on your mat.” As an endurance athlete, your flexibility is probably going to suck. You’re also used to working different muscles than those required for the yoga poses. So be gentle on yourself and remember this isn’t a competition. There’s no podium in yoga.
  • Show up right on time or a little late. Maybe you can catch up to your buddies who started the run a little before you, but when you come into a class late, it’s just rude.

Remember, the off-season is both a time to relax and explore. I hope some yoga can help you do that. Namaste.


—Samantha Morse