As my fellow cyclists and I prepare to ride from SF to LA, yoga breaks (along with food, water, and bio breaks) are a must.
Incorporating basic yoga poses and principles like forward bends, twists, glute/hammy stretches, breath, and mindfulness can give you and your body a boost to go that extra mile. Yoga integrates breath and body to take “stretching” to a deeper level. Flexibility comes when strength meets ease and the catalyst for this is breath. Breath provides mini contraction/relaxation responses throughout the entire body allowing the muscles to lengthen, slowly and efficiently. Restoration happens when a pose is held for 10 breaths or longer and the body lets go of initial muscle shock to gain “stretch”. Yes, I know, it’s slow and boring and you’d much rather be mashing up an 8% hill, with all activity Yoga is a practice. Over time, concentration, coordination, and flexibility build and your entire mind, body, and breath are engaged- these valuable tools make mashing so much more fun!
When to practice?
- Daily to keep muscles in balance and avoid cramps and pain during a ride.
- During rest stops to release built up tension
Here are 5 yoga poses that I use to restore my body after spending hours on a bicycle. Hold each one for about 10 deep breaths (breathing through the nose).
1. Forward Bend
Start with feet together, bend knees slightly, tuck chin in, and begin to roll forward until belly is resting on thighs. Hold here and breathe. With each inhale hips rise slightly, with exhale spine lengthens. 10 breaths. Deepen stretch by straighten legs.
F.I.T. Focus: Hamstring, spine, neck
Step left foot back, place knee on ground, pull left hip slightly forward to align with right hip. Hold here and breathe. With each breath in lift torso up and back, with each exhale lower hips towards ground (maintaining hip alignment). 10 breaths. Deepen by raising arms and torso up. Repeat on right side.
F.I.T. Focus: Hip Flexors
Step left leg back, place knee on ground, lower right leg down with foot pointed in towards groins, pull left hip slightly forward to align with right hip. Hold here and breathe. With each breath in lift torso up, with each exhale align hips. 10 breaths. Variation: bend back leg in or place front hip on a block. Repeat on right side.
F.I.T. Focus: Everything! Glutes, hip flexors, groins, mind (I have a love/hate relationship with this pose)
4. Supine Twist
Lying on back bring left knee to chest and bring over right leg, place right hand on left thigh and gently guide thigh towards ground. Extend left arm to left side and gaze over left shoulder. Hold here and breathe. With each inhale expand through chest, with each exhale twist deeper.10 breaths. Repeat on right side.
F.I.T. Focus: Hips, lower back
Lying on back spread arms and feet, pull shoulder blade together and down underneath you. Close eyes, clear mind, relaxed breath. Rest for 2 minutes.
F.I.T. Focus: Total relaxation
Photos from Yoga Journal
What’s your restoration remedy? Post to comments…