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Yoga Sports Coach™ Sets New British Record

Rebecca Coales shares her story:

When I trained as a Yoga Sports Coach™ in 2012, I worked with a freediving athlete for my YSS case study research. It had occurred to me at the time that I might end up using the principles on myself as an international freediver, but little did I know that I would go on and become a record-breaking athlete!

Applying What I'd Learnt

I’ve been freediving for four years and practising yoga for about the same length of time. I’d been teaching yoga for two years when I started on the Yoga Sports Science (YSS) course. I wanted to get a better understanding of the functional side of yoga in relation to the biomechanics of sport and also discover new ways to work with athletes. My case study allowed me time to study freediving biomechanics closely, from videos of elite athletes to divers in my club. Having worked with a diver for 10 weeks to improve her monofin (underwater dolphin), I was delighted when she went on to set new personal bests in both the pool and depth.

At the start of 2013 a well-respected coach approached me with an offer to train me in the pool disciplines for competition (that’s measured as distance with and without fins). I had few expectations at that point, but accepted as I’d spent many hours working with my club members and yoga clients, and few on myself.

Training the Yoga Sports Science® Way

Using the periodisation principles I had learned during my training to be a Yoga Sports Coach™, along with my understanding of how to integrate yoga into a training regime, I set up my own training plan and got to work. I had a varied training schedule which included grueling hill sprints (as anaerobic training), swimming technique, weight training and of course dry and wet breath-hold exercises. I continued to practice yoga everyday, using core exercises, back and hip flexibility in particular to address breast-stroke and dolphin biomechanics.

By March I’d set new personal bests in competition and in June I flew out to Belgrade to compete at the World Championships. I struggled with a few injuries during my training including tight hip rotators and upper back tension. In combination with a weekly sports massage, yoga proved invaluable in keeping these ‘niggles’ from affecting my performance. As my swim distances increased, I would come home from training with tired and sore legs, this is when my post-training yoga recovery became more and more important to me.

Setting a New Record

On 31 July 2013 I set a new British female record for Dynamic No Fins (DNF), which is underwater breast-stroke, on one breath. The anticipation of a record attempt, where all of the focus is on one athlete, is challenging to say the least! Although my sport involves not breathing, the breaths we take before a performance can make all the difference in staying focused and relaxed. I generally spend the hour before a dive listening to a guided relaxation and resting with deep, slow breathing, helping to bring my heart rate down.

I’m now taking a well-earned rest while I create some yoga sequences for clients training in both monofin and breast-stroke disciplines. My next challenge is training for depth dives - identifying how sport-specific yoga techniques can benefit the body in adapting to increased pressure where the lungs squeeze to their minimal size and the ribs move inwards. Chest and diaphragm flexibility are highly prized in this sport! I’ll also continue to work with scuba divers, who are finding the benefits of relaxed yoga breathing, physical strength and flexibility exercises to help them get more out of their dives.

If you’re interested in working with me please visit or email

Take a look at Rebecca's profile on our Official Register of Yoga Sports Coaches™.

If you want to improve performance results for yourself and other athletes, then train to be a Yoga Sports Coach™ - start today!

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