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Six essential poses to help keep you balanced and injury free
By Lauren Gregg
Photo: Nick Gregg
Photo: Peter Morning
If you are an avid cyclist, you and your body are well aware that long hours in the saddle lead to tightness and soreness. Of course cycling is great for your health, but staying in the same position for hours on end and practicing the repetitive motion of pedaling can also have adverse effects on your body, like creating tight hamstrings that can pull hips out of alignment.
The best way to deal with this is adding yoga into your routine. Stretching the hips is key for cyclists, and after spending so much time hunched over the handlebars, bending your back the opposite direction can really help balance you out. The more flexible you are in general, the less injury prone you will be. Since flexibility, core strength, and balance are the foundations of cycling, yoga is the perfect cross-training exercise. Yoga will improve your cycling and your overall health.
To get started, try out these essential poses for cyclists.
STANDING FOLD Stand up straight, inhale your arms up over your head, and exhale and reach down towards your feet. Keep your back straight, but feel free to bend your knees slightly if it is more comfortable. Feel the stretch in the backs of your legs, and try to fold your body over as far as your body will allow. This move will help with the hinge position required for cycling.
LOW LUNGE WITH BACK BEND Place one knee on the floor behind you, while keeping your front knee stacked straight above your front ankle. Inhale and bring your arms above your head while bending your back slightly backward to a point that’s comfortable. This move stretches your legs while also working as a counter-balancing stretch for your back.
PIGEON WITH FORWARD FOLD Start on all fours. Bring your right knee up toward your right hand and tuck it under your body by sliding your left leg as far back as possible. Keep your hips square with the front of your mat. The farther you move your foot forward, the deeper the stretch in your hip and glute will be. Beginners can stay here, or if you are comfortable walk your hands forward and relax down over your front leg. Breathe deep and stay in the position anywhere from ten seconds to five minutes. Repeat on the other side.
COBRA Lie on your belly with your legs together and your palms flat on the floor under your shoulders. Breath in and, with your elbows close to your sides, press down and lift your body up off the floor. Hold for two to six breaths, and exhale and release to the floor. This is a great stretch for your back.
FIRE LOG Sit with both legs outstretched. Slide your left foot under your right leg and place it next to your right hip. Then, stack your right leg on top of your left and bring your right foot on top of your left knee. This can be an awkward pose to practice at first, but it is an amazing stretch for your hips. Beginners can stay here, or if you are comfortable try walking your hands out and folding forward over your legs.
CAMEL Kneel with your knees hip-width apart. Place your hands on your lower back, and gently lean back while you exhale. Beginners can hold this position, but if you are comfortable try reaching back and grab your heels. To release, bring your hands to your back and inhale back into a kneeling position. This is a powerful stretch for your quads and lower back.