New guest blogger, cycling yoga guru Sally Lovett from ‘Stretching the City’, joins us each month with a special post on yoga for cycling.
Yoga & Cycling
While the rhythmic and repetitive motion of cycling can be deeply meditative, the downside of this action is that the continuous cylces of repetitive motion tax one set of muscles while under-utlizing the rest. So, for example – cyclists tend to have strong quads and glutes, but their hip flexors are tight and weak. By crouching towards their handlebars, cyclists can also be prone to rounded shoulders and back. Over time and distance, these can all create muscular imbalances that can lead to misalignment and injury.
But it’s not all bad news! Through dedicated yoga postures you can stretch and strengthen any problem areas and also gain a greater awareness of any niggles and injuries. Here are four ‘asanas’ (postures) you should try performing regularly after a ride:
1. Low lunge
The low lunge opens the hip flexors, which can be very tight in cyclists and the slight backbend opens up your chest and releases your upper body which is likely to be tight from hunching over your handlebars or carrying a backpack.
2. Downward Dog
One of the most recognised yoga poses, downward dog will stretch out stiff hamstrings and calves, reduce tension in the neck and elongate your spine. Push your heels to the floor and your tailbone to the sky to really increase the stretch.
3. Pigeon pose
Gradually lean your weight forward over your bent leg to enjoy this intense stretch and classic hip opener. . Don’t tolerate any knee pain in this pose – placing a cushion under the buttock of your bent leg should help.
4. Supine bound angle pose
Say goodbye to hunched handlebar syndrome and open up the chest with this supported back bend. Lie on your back with a rolled blanket or bolster under your tordo. Outstrech your arms, bring the soles of your feet together and your heels away from your groin to wherever feels comfortable. Place suport under your knees if need be. Stay here for 5-10 minutes focusing on the breath.
Yoga also helps prevent injuries simply by teaching you better body awareness. By being more body-aware, you can get into the habit of self-checks, to see how you’re holding yourself on the bike and any niggles or injuries you may be causing.
Sally Lovett is a London-based yoga teacher, teaching general and beginner level hatha yoga classes under the name of her company ‘Stretching the City.’ Students can join Sally for adhoc drop-in classes or take part in a bespoke 6 week beginners course. The next beginners course starts in Angel on Tuesday 26th October. Visit www.stretchingthecity.com for more info.