Although a lengthy ride and blast of fresh air can be just what we need at this time of year, there’s no denying that getting back on the bike after a few weeks of festive fun can be something of a struggle. Thankfully, our guest blogger and yoga teacher, Sally Lovett from Stretching the City is here to share some yoga tips and poses for pain-free pedalling.
1. Standing forward bend
This pose lengthen out the hamstrings and gently stretches out the lower back, which can get compressed from many miles hunched over the handlebars.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and with bent knees gently fold over, hinging at the hips. Let your head drop completely, even giving it a gently shake from side to side to release your neck. Let your arms drop and fingertips rest on the floor, or alternatively grab hold of alternate elbows. Take 5 deep breaths, letting the weight of the head draw the upper body closer to the floor with every exhale. If it’s comfortable to do so on your lower back, start to lengthen the backs of the legs, raising the hips up to the ceiling. For an extra release in the lower back, sway gently from side to side with arms outstretched. Roll up super slowly, restacking the spine as you go and come to stand at the front of your mat in ‘mountain pose’.
2. Lizard lunge
Begin by practicing a few standard ‘runners’ lunges before graduating on to lizard lunge to really increase the flexibility and mobility of the hips. A great all-rounder for cyclist’s tight hips, lizard pose stretches the hip flexors, inner thigh and quadriceps.
Come into a lunge with your right leg forward and bent at 90 degrees so that the right knee is tracking over the ankle. Wiggle your right foot to the right and bring both hands on the inside of your right foot. Take an inhale and as you exhale, bend your elbows slightly and start to lower your shoulders – keeping both shoulders in line with oneanother. If it’s available to you, lower on to your elbows and rest your forearms on the floor. Alternatively, stay up on your hands. Hold for 5 breaths and repeat other side.
Sustaining the cycling posture of hunching forward over handlebars tightens and compresses the muscles in the back. Maintain flexibility in the spine and open up the chest with this easy back bend.
Lying face down bring your hands underneath your shoulders, so that arms are bent. Lowering your shoulders away from ears and elbows hugging into the ribs, press your hands into the floor and raise your upper body up on an inhale. Slide the shoulders down towards the waist and breathe expansively for 5 breaths using the full capacity of the lungs.
Sally teaches drop-in vinyasa flow and 6 week beginners yoga courses in Angel on Monday and Wednesday evenings. The next beginners yoga course starts on 14th and 16th January 2012 and has places still available. Visit www.stretchingthecity.com for more details.