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Olympic Speed Skater Katherine Reutter Discusses Her Yoga Practice

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Updated September 16, 2012

Olympic Speed Skater Katherine Reutter Discusses Her Yoga Practice

Katherine Reutter

Photo Courtesy of USOC and NBC Sports

Katherine Reutter Biography:

Born in 1988, Speed Skater Katherine Reutter is a native of Champaign, IL. Already a veteran of international competition, she is an American Record holder, a US National Champion, and a World Cup Medalist. I was pleased to have the opportunity to ask Katherine Reutter some questions about how her yoga practice complements her training program.

What type of yoga do you do?:

I take both hatha and vinyasa classes.

How often do you practice?:

I practice yoga about once a week. During the hardest weeks, I don't have time to go to the studio I like, but I'll do some easy hip openers and meditation at home. During lighter weeks, I try to go to the studio during lunch for a class that doesn't hold the poses for more than a breath or two, but the constant flow gives me energy. There's also a one hour vinyasa class that I find pretty intense so I go there when I'm looking for a tough workout.

How did you first get in to yoga?:

I first started yoga when I was a senior in high school. I wanted to get more flexible and stay in shape during the off season so I took a class a few times a week before school. When training started again, I used yoga tapes and TV shows for recovery workouts. Now I go to a yoga studio where the goal is to challenge both the mind and body and I use yoga a lot to put me in the right state of mind [for competition] as well as improving balance, strength, and stamina.

Do you practice at home? If you use videos or audio, what is your favorite?:

When I practice at home, I mostly come up with whatever poses I need to work on, try to fit them together as smoothly as possible, and really focus on breathing.

What's your favorite yoga pose?:

My favorite yoga pose is the happy baby/dead bug pose. I prefer to think of a happy baby, but just the fact that it could be either makes me laugh. This pose stretches my groin unlike any other stretch I've found and can be modified by straightening one leg at a time to stretch the hamstrings, and when I draw in my core, it also feels really good on my back.

Why do you do yoga?:

I do yoga to strengthen my body in a soothing way. In yoga, the challenge comes from inside yourself, not the level on the bike, weight on the bar, or other competitors. You can push your body using only your mind. I also find that yoga puts me in the right mental state I need to feel relaxed yet connected.

Do you use any yoga techniques to help you prepare for competition?:

I'm not sure if this originated in yoga, but I've done it in a few classes. The night before a race, or any time I feel stressed/tight, I lie on my back, close my eyes, and starting with my toes, I contract for a count of ten and then relax. I do this for my calves, quads, glutes, all the way up to the muscles in my face. Then I do a mental scan of my body to see if there are any areas that are still tight and repeat where necessary. When my whole body feels loose, I use the new energy my body has to focus on what I have to do and when I'm done I'm ready for anything. It's a really great way to reallocate energy towards something helpful (focus) instead of stress (tight muscles).
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