No matter which sport you play, you may suffer from poor posture due to repetitive muscle overuse and tightness. Cyclists are known for their tight hips, quads and pectoral muscles from spending too much time in a hunched over position. Tight chest and abdominal muscles cause hunched shoulders and a forward head posture, while overworked quads and hip flexors wreak havoc on their spine and lower back. All of these postural imbalances make cyclists prime candidates for yoga routines to help them stretch the muscles used most, as well as balance and strengthen those used less, during their sport. Two to three times a week, practice these five yoga poses to improve your flexibility, posture, and performance.
Kneel down, with your thighs perpendicular to the floor and your knees touching. With the tops of your feet flat on the floor, slide your shins apart slightly wider than hip width. Take a deep breath and exhale as you sit back onto your calves. Your buttocks should rest comfortably between your feet, with your inner heels touching your outer thighs. Once you have found a comfortable position, drop your shoulder blades down and away from your ears, and lift your sternum to straighten your spine. Continue taking deep breaths as you hold this pose for up to one minute.
Kneel on all fours, with your shoulders directly above your wrists and your hips above your knees. Walk your hands a few inches forward and take a deep breath. As you exhale, sit your buttocks back towards your heels. Your arms should remain straight and shoulder blades down and back away from your ears. Allow your forehead to drop to the floor so your neck can relax as you maintain a neutral spine. Control your breathing as you continue to sit back towards your heels, holding this pose for up to one minute.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Lift your buttocks slightly from the floor, and slide your hands underneath with palms facing down. Let your buttocks rest on the back of your hands, and tuck your elbows inwards towards the sides of your torso. Inhale and press your forearms firmly into the floor. Bring your shoulder blades together and lift your chest away from the floor as you arch your back. The back of your head should lightly touch the ground behind you, as you control your breathing in this pose for up to one minute.
Standing tall, step your right foot three to four feet in front of your left. Rotate your left foot slightly to the right and point your right foot forward. Square your hips so that your right thigh is turned outward, making sure your right knee and ankle are aligned. Raise your arms parallel to the floor with palms facing downward. Take a deep breath and bend your torso to the right, directly over your right leg. Bend from your hip and maintain a neutral spine as you flex the muscles in your left leg to hold this pose. Rest your right hand on your shin for stability, and stretch your left hand up to the ceiling. Control your breathing in this posture for up to one minute, and switch sides.
Standing tall, step your right foot three to four feet in front of your left. Rotate your left foot slightly to the right and point your right foot directly forward. Square your hips and rotate your torso to the right as you raise your arms perpendicular to the floor. Breathing deeply, keep a neutral spine with your shoulders fixed down and away from your ears and your left hips pointing forward. Keep your weight centered and continue to reach upwards toward the ceiling, bringing the palms of your hands together if possible. Keep your head in a neutral position, and control your breathing as you hold this pose for up to one minute.
Sarah Dalton is the founder of Able Mind Able Body, a Las Vegas based company offering motivational lifestyle coaching and personal training services. She takes a holistic approach to healthy living, and educates others on the benefits of nutrition, exercise, and emotional health. Visit www.ablemindablebody.com for more info.