For a sport the requires a training focus of leg and core strength being able to take a few minutes to find some calm and stretch is how yoga does cyclists good – not to mention, it also helps with that strengthening part too.
Here’s a short yoga flow of 6 postures I suggest for anyone who will be joining me at GranFondo Niagara Falls (or any other long distance cycling adventure). These postures will help you stay injury free, build core and leg strength, help to calm your mind, and will give you a chance to really connect to your breath (so you can concentrate on maintaining your cadence, or focus those lungs for the big sprint finish).
Starting on your hands and knees, exhale and lift your knees off the floor lengthening your tailbone creating a long line from your hands towards your seat. With your next exhale push your thighs back and lengthen through your hamstrings and calves pushing your heels into the floor.
Benefits: Stretches shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands. Strengthens shoulders and quads. Also helps to energize the body and calm the mind.
2. Low Lunge
Exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands. Make sure your knee is above your ankle. Lower the left knee to the floor. If you have space in your hip flexors try resting your hands on your knee or lifting them up in the air adding a gentle back bend. Repeat with the left foot in front for the same duration of time.
Stretches chest, and quads and hip flexor of back leg. Strengthens front leg quadricep.
On all fours stretch legs out behind the body keeping shoulders above wrists. Press hands firmly into the floor and slide shoulder blades down the spine. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. For a modification remain on forearms or keep knees on the ground.
Benefits: Strengthens core, arms, wrists, and spine
4. Seated Forward Bend
Sit on the floor inhale keeping the spin long and lean forward from the hip joints. If possible take the sides of your feet with your hands. With each inhalation lift and lengthen through the front of the body. Do not round through your spine and do not forcefully pull yourself forwards. Stay in the pose for 1 to 3 minutes. Modifications: If your hands are unable to reach your toes consider using a strap (tie or skipping rope) to help extend your reach. If you can reach beyond the sides of your feet consider grabbing your big toes with your peace fingers, or grabbing wrists by the soles of your feet.
Stretch through hamstrings and spine. Calms mind and helps relieve stress, headache and anxiety, and reduces fatigue.
Lie on the ground facing up. Bend your knees placing your feet on the floor hips distance apart with heels under your knees. Exhale and press your feet and arms into the floor as your raise your lower body off the ground. Lift your seat until your thighs are parallel to the floor, be sure to keep your knees above your ankles. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release down as you exhale, rolling the spine slowly onto the floor.
Stretches chest, neck, and spine. Rejuvenates tires legs. Reduces fatigue, headache, backache.
6. Reclining Big Toe Pose
Lie on the floor facing up. Exhale bending your left knee and bringing it in towards your chest. Grab your big toe with your peace fingers (or loop the arch of the foot with a strap). Inhale and straighten the knee, pressing the right heel up towards the ceiling. Stay here in this stretch for 1 to 3 minutes. Slowly release the leg as you exhale and repeat on the other side.
Stretches hips, hamstrings, groin, and calves. Strengthens the knee. Relieves backache and sciatica.