Backbending for better breathing and perfect posture
Although it depends on the type of bike you ride, most of us adopt a cycling posture of leaning forward and hunching over our handlebars. This rounding of the upper back not only upsets the natural curve of your spine (leading to postural misalignment over time), but it can also inhibit your ability to breathe well. By leaning in on our chest and lungs, we tend to take shorter, more shallow breaths – rather than breathing fully and deeply for a more nourishing and energizing breath.
Try bridge pose for an invigorating back bend which will counter-stretch a hunched-over-handlebars upper back, release tension in the body and open up the chest to make more room for improved breathing.
Begin by warming up the body with a few sun salutations and standing poses. Then, lying down on your mat bend your knees and with feet flat on the floor bring your heels a few inches away from your buttocks. Take your arms down along the sides of your body and move the shoulder blades away from the ears. Press down through the feet to lift the hips away from the floor, draw the tops of the shoulders under the body and interlace the fingers. With fingers interlaced press your triceps and blades of the hand into the mat below you. Try to raise your hips higher with each exhale, keeping the knees parrallel to the hips and breath deeply to open your chest on every inhale.
Stay in the pose for anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly onto the floor. Finish by hugging your knees into your chest as a counter-stretch.
Always be mindful when practicing backbends – listening to any sensations which arise and not pushing beyond your bodies limits.
If you’d like some more yoga tips for cyclists, Stretching the City will be hosting a ‘Yoga for Cyclists’ workshop from 3-4.30pm on Saturday 19thMarch at Pop Up Yoga in Angel. For more details and to book your place visit http://stretchingthecity.com/Workshops.html