Yoga: Daily Maintenance Poses for Mountain Bikers, by Sheona Mitchley

Upper and Lower Body Strength and Stabilisers

PLANK

BENEFIT: Plank pose tones all of the core muscles of the body including the abdomen, chest and the muscles supporting the spine. It strengthens the arms, wrists, and shoulders and builds endurance and stamina.

Begin on hands and knees with shoulders stacked over the wrists. Spread your fingers and press down through your forearms and hands. Do not let your chest collapse. Gaze down between your hands, lengthen the back of your neck and draw your abdominal muscles toward your spine. Your body should be in a straight line from head to heels.  Hold for at least 30 seconds and build up to 1 – 2 minutes. To deepen the pose, try lifting one leg at a time. Hold the lifted leg for five breaths. Then, repeat with the opposite leg for the same amount of time.


LOCUST POSE

BENEFIT: Locust pose is an effective way to strengthen the muscles of the mid and upper back while stretching the chest, shoulders, and abdomen.

Lie on your stomach with arms extended down by your sides. Allow your forehead to rest naturally on the floor. Inhale and lift your head, chest, arms and legs off the floor. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and reach back through your fingertips and toes. Lengthen your tailbone towards your heels and keep the back of the neck long. Hold for up to 10 breaths, then release.


CHAIR POSE

BENEFIT: Chair pose strengthens the muscles in your thighs and feet and tones the core, while increasing ankle and knee joint mobility.

Stand with your feet together and bend your knees while moving your hips back as if you were sitting down on a chair. Draw your lower abdomen in and up to support your lower back and try not to overarch the lumbar spine.  Send your hips back rather than your knees forward, so that you can still see your toes then raise your arms up next to your ears. Keep reaching higher, while sitting lower for 5 to 10 breaths.


HIGH LUNGE

BENEFIT: High lunge promotes stability in the front and back of the torso and tones the lower body, strengthening and stretching the thighs, calves and ankles.

Check that your hips are square and pelvis level then step one leg back, bending the front knee and coming up high onto the ball of the back foot. Make sure the front knee is aligned with the front ankle and work the thigh as parallel to the floor as possible. Raise your arms and draw your torso back so that your shoulders are over your hips. Engage the core for stability. To intensify the pose, lower the back knee to hover above the mat and hold for five breaths before changing sides.


BRIDGE

BENEFIT: Bridge strengthens the legs, glutes and back while stretching the quadriceps, hips, abdomen and chest.

Lying on your back, place your feet flat on the floor, a comfortable distance away from the hips. On an inhalation, press the back of your shoulders and your feet into the floor and lift your hips up. Actively press the feet down and keep the knees from spreading out wide by engaging the inner thighs. Lengthen your tailbone, slide your shoulder blades down your back and keep your neck neutral. You can clasp your hands behind your back for a deeper stretch in the chest. Stay for 5 to 15 breaths. To come out of the pose, release the arms and roll your spine down on an out-breath.


| IMAGES: Oliver Barnett | SEQUENCE: Sheona Mitchley / @sheonayoga |

| LOCATION: The Yoga Room |



ABOUT SHEONA MITCHLEY – Sheona initially discovered yoga as a way to explore the body and find calm respite from a busy external world.  Having always been drawn to self – inquiry and introspection, yoga provided the platform to discover the more subtle aspects of the self.  Sheona participated in an Aerial Yoga training in Johannesburg in 2015 and then went on to complete her 200RYT at The Shala Cape Town Yoga School in 2016.  In 2017 she trained under Ana Forrest and completed her Advanced Teacher Training in Cape Town.  She enjoys encouraging students to find a connection to self-using the yoga practice to explore not only our physical edges but our mental and emotional edges too.  She is currently completing her 500RYT with The Shala Cape Town Yoga School and teaches a variety of styles of yoga including Vinyasa, Aerial and Yin Yoga.



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