Yes! Cycling and yoga do go together! And it seems to be more than a passing trend. Even as the two exercises might seem at odds, they truly do complement each other. For instance, cyclists often have extremely tight hips and hamstrings and suffer from being hunched forward for long periods of time in the saddle.
Enter yoga, the perfect counterbalance. New hybrid studios that combine cycling and yoga, such as Reve Cycling Studio in Portland, Maine, have opened in the last few years and riders keep coming back for more. So get your cardio fix on the road (or in spinning class) and come to the mat to relax and make those worked muscles feel good. We've taken four effective poses from our 30-minute class, Yoga for Cyclists, so if you only have a few minutes, you can stretch your legs.
1. Say Hello to Hip Flexors
This low lunge variation will get into the deep psoas. Place your right foot on the floor with the knee aligned directly over the ankle. Lower your left (back) leg to the ground. Left toes can be turned under. Bring your right elbow to your right thigh; you can find a Mudra (hand positions intended to direct energy flow) with your right hand if you like. Raise your torso and draw the belly away from the right thigh. Take at least four steady Ujjayi breaths (breath regulating technique).
2. Release the Hips
Resting Pigeon, Pigeon Prep Pose, or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, releases tension in the hips. Bring your right outer shin to the mat behind your hands. The outer right knee is on the mat behind the right wrist, and the outer right ankle is on the mat behind the left wrist. Your right foot can be drawn in toward the inner thighs or you can bring the right shin parallel to the front edge of the mat. If the foot is drawn in towards the inner thighs, you can extend the foot and rest the top of the foot on the mat. If your right foot is behind the left wrist and your shin is parallel to the top of the mat, flex your ankle to protect your knee. The placement of your foot and degree of the bent knee will depend on the openness of your hips. Aim to square your hips off to the front of the mat. If your hips are not very open, keep the foot drawn in closer to the body. You can always use a block or blanket under the hip if you are especially tight. Untuck the toes and look at your back foot. Your leg should be in one straight line from your knee to your ankle to your toes. Place your hands down onto the mat to keep the torso reaching high. To move deeper into the pose, begin to walk your hands forward and bow over your front leg.
3. Stretch the Hips (a little more)
Begin seated in staff pose. Have a blanket or block to sit on if you have tight hips. Bend your right knee and cross your right foot over the left leg, setting the foot on the floor. Lean your weight into the left sitting bone and bring the left foot to the outside of the right hip, working to stack the right knee on top of the left. Sit evenly on both sitting bones. If you would like to stretch the upper body, you can work your way into traditional Cow Face pose.
4. Find a Forward Fold
If you feel comfortable in the seated version of Cow Face, you have the option of coming into a forward fold. If you have tight hips it might feel better to stay in an upright seated position so listen to your body and only walk your hands forward if there is no pain in the knees. You will still get a benefit and a great hip stretch from the upright version of this posture.
Article originally posted on YogaToday.
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