You have made it to Stage 5 of this year’s Tour De Yoga – great work.
We continue to focus on those hot spots of aches & tension for cyclists along the spine, across the hips and along the backs of the legs. We begin by flexing and extending the spine in a Cat / Cow pose – I often find it beneficial to close my eyes in this pose, so that I can really tune into the different sensations in the body as I move through the pose. Perhaps focusing on the space created across the chest and shoulders. Or the position of the tailbone as I lift my head and arch my spine on an inhale and rounding on an exhale.
We then transition through a short sequence that I often teach and realty helps to get into those juicy spots in the hips, hamstrings and calves. As I have previously said, low lunges are a great foundation pose to open across the hips, focusing on lengthening the hip flexors, along the insides of the thighs. Lifting the crown of the head upwards ensures that the torso remains upright, with no collapsing forward over the front thigh. Be mindful of any lower back pain – when lifting the arms overhead increases the load on the spine so progress through stages with the hands starting on the floor, then to the front knee, and overhead, checking in at each stage for how this feels before progressing.
Be equally mindful in a half splits pose as we transition to the hamstring and calf stretch. This can be a strong pose, particularly for cyclists with super tight hamstrings. Flexing the toes towards the shin of the extended leg provides a good indication of the sensations along the back of the leg. So, go easy if this feels too strong and bend the front knee as needed. You will see from the recording that I placed blocks either side of my hips to provide support for the hands when sinking the hips towards the back heel. I find that this helps maintain length n the upper body when lowering forward over the front thigh.
As with all of these classes, it is important to listen to your body, as you tune into the sensations you experience. As cyclists, it can be easy to adopt a competitive mindset and applying this to a yoga practice, pushing through the pain barrier and in that way risking injury. It’s why at the start of each class, it’s good practice to check in with how the body feels, focusing on any areas of tension. This is a really useful way of framing your practice. Understanding how to challenge yourself safely and maximise the benefits.