Adding a yoga routine to your training turns out to be very beneficial for all bike riders. The objective of the type of yoga I teach is to improve athletic performance by improving mobility, recovery, breathing technique and total body awareness.
This 20-minute routine is designed to release hip and back discomfort by loosening them up. This sequence you can do in the morning or at night. You will probably experience some added benefits like a better night’s sleep, an improved HRV and encourage the parasympathetic nervous system to respond which in turn equates to a more relaxed body and calmer mind.
1. Supine with base feet
Lie on your back, tuck your shoulder blades underneath you and bend your knees, base your heels directly below your knees wider than hips width apart. Base your arms next to your sides, palms facing down. Lift your pelvis up and then slowly down to release the vertebrae one by one onto to the floor to find a nice long supine position with based feet.
2. Windscreen wipers
Slowly start to release with gravity both knees to one side. Keeping feet and shoulders in contact with the floor, go according to your range of motion. Move slowly and mindfully from side to side dropping the knee in and dropping the knee out.. Adjusting your feet to gauge your range. Repeat slowly and with awareness from R to L. Let the hip joints swivel in their sockets.
3. Lateral stretch – aka roadkill
Press your palms into the floor and activate (engage) your latisimus dorsi and glutes (this will help to release your hip flexor on the inward turned leg (by a process of “reciprocal inhibition” which mean the opposite muscle group is switched off). This will enable an easier stretch and release. Rest legs on each side and lift your opposite arm above your head, parallel to the floor to create a stretch down the lateral side of the body. Repeat on the both sides.
4. S Seat
From the happy hips position, sweep your extended arm horizontally and roll through your right side basing your forearm to come up to seated. One leg draws behind you into the s seat position – lengthening from the base of the spine to the top of the head and tilt forward at the hips to deepen the hip stretch. Variations – open up on front leg to find a greater stretch. Place hands/ forearms/head on knee.
5. Low drop stance seated
LExtend right arm and place weight in right hand to extend left leg. This opens the groin and hamstring. Open up the angle on your bent right knee to elevate any tension in the knee. Keep knee cap of the left leg facing ceiling and place both sitting bones on the floor. Place arms where comfortable.
6. Prone with shoulder stretch
This is an amazing chest, neck and shoulders relaxer as well as a hip release. Go slowly! Place both hands on the floor and lower to a prone position. Extend right arm to the side, really reach out. Spread your fingers and press palm into the floor. Bend the left arm and place the hand under your shoulder onto fingertips.Stack your elbow above your wrist. Gently roll your hip over to stack onto your right hip, raise the left heel up and over, then activate the glute (reciprocal inhibition) and send hips forward. Left toes may touch the floor behind you. Just go to the range your shoulder allows. Relax your head to the floor.
Repeat on both sides.
7. Belly breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing (belly breathing) in prone: Minimum 3 minutes.
This position negates chest breathing and teaches your primary breathing muscle, the diaphragm, to work fully. You will feel it as the belly expanding against the floor as breath comes in. Let it hang out Lie face down and place hands across holding opposite biceps. Find a comfortable place for your forehead to rest on the forearms.You should feel only the lowest front ribs and the hip bones (ASIS) on the floor. Externally rotate legs (toes out) Take the legs as wide as comfortable. This will encourage parasympathetic nervous system to respond and increase HRV. Sleep should come easily after these.
These postures can be done morning or night.
Lynette Morris designs and instructs yoga routines for riders looking to improve performance, release muscular pains, improve overall health and mental focus. Lynette has taught yoga for over 10 years across the globe and is passionate about using movement to enhance athletic performance and recovery. Follow her @lynwmorris or lynettemorris.co.za
Images: Wayne Reiche @waynereiche