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Sunday
Mar092014

How Yoga Makes You a Better Cyclist

This article is by Beth Shaw, fitness expert and creator of YogaFit. I truly admire the work she has done to bring yoga to the forefront of fitness. I enjoy helping my clients cross train, our bodies need to experience several types of exercise. Here is what Beth has to share on "How Yoga Makes You a Better Cyclist". 

 


There’s nothing like setting off on a brisk morning ride with the wind in your hair and the sun on your back. Whether you’re an occasional weekend rider or a hardcore mountain biker, cycling is an exciting and effective form of fat-burning cardiovascular exercise. In fact, the Outdoor Industry Association claims nearly half of all Americans ride a bike for leisure and fitness.
If you’ve ever hopped into a saddle, you also know that the sport forces your body into long periods of repetitive forward flexion, leaning slightly forward from the waistline and lower back. This postural alignment stresses major muscles of the mid- to –lower back, and tightens muscles all along the back of the body, from the upper back to the hamstrings, glutes and calves. Instead of simply stretching your legs at the end of a ride, perform these poses to counteract the gravitational forces of biking, and be ready to tackle another mountain tomorrow. 
This series counteracts the forward hinge as you bike, and also balances muscles of the rear body. Hold each stretch for 20 to 40 seconds and repeat as needed.
DANCER (stretches the psoas muscles, shoulders, chest, upper back and strengthens the legs for more powerful pedaling)
Stand on left leg and engage the abdominals to balance. Bend right knee and bring right foot back, reaching around to grasp right ankle with right hand. Bring knees close together and stand tall, kicking back into your palm. Extend left arm straight at chest level and press right hip flexors forward as you tilt forward until torso is nearly parallel to floor. Square the hips as much as possible and hold for 30 seconds, then switch sides. Repeat twice.
COBRA (strengthens and stretches postural muscles along upper- to lower-back)
Lie belly down and stretch legs in back with toes touching the floor and thighs engaged. Place hands adjacent to top of the ribcage, roll shoulder blades down your back, look down the end of your nose and breathe. Slowly peel your chest off the mat, keeping bent elbows tucked into ribcage, and hold for 30 seconds before working in reverse until forehead touches the mat. Repeat several times.
PYRAMID POSE (eases the hamstrings, soothes the hips and lower back and stretches the spine)
Stand with right leg in front of you about a foot and left leg in back, both feet straight and parallel (not on the same line). Square hips to the front and engage the belly. Slowly hinge forward from the hips and begin curling torso over your front shin and hold for 20 seconds or so. Place as much body weight as you can into the rear foot, keeping front right knee soft and slowly reach hands to each side of the front foot (or on the calf if hamstrings are tight). When you’re ready to come up, bend both knees and roll up, then switch sides.
UPSIDE-DOWN PIGEON (stretches the hips, glutes, legs and lower body)
Lie face up on the floor with knees bent and bring knees over the belly. Cross right ankle over left knee and reach through to grasp left hamstring with both hands. Flex your right foot and point your right toes and keep your tailbone on the mat at all times. To deepen the stretch, pull left knee in toward the body and hold for 20 to 40 seconds before you switch sides. Repeat twice.

 

I hope you enjoy these practicing these poses soon!

 

H2

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