Bewildered children all over the North of England are wondering where their old bicycles have gone at the moment, as parents paint them yellow and decorate their porches with them. That's right, Tour De France fever has hit the North big time.
Le Grand Depart is set for 5th July and 400,000 people are expected to come and watch the first stage. It begins with Leeds to Harrogate on a 190km circuit, followed by York to Sheffield (201km), then finishes its English journey with Cambridge to London (155km).
Cycling itself has had such an upsurge in the past month, that cycle lanes are positively congested and cars are almost a thing of the past!
With that in mind and lots of people coming to the studio with tight backs and thighs; I have put down a few key poses to bring some respite yoga to cycling mania.
Breath of Fire
1. A strong core is key in cycling and often, the abdominals give in to the back muscles causing the back to over-compensate in the cyclists posture. For this:-
Try Breath of Fire - a simple breathing technique, to help fire the abdominals and train the body to stay in balance.
This is not only a great pre-race breath, (if you are keen on racing people in cycling lanes), it is also a breath that really gets you noticing exactly where your abdominals are!
Breathe in and out through the nose, on the in-breath, inhale fully and allow the abdomen to inflate; (this is allowing your diaphragm to move down the body and letting plenty of air into the lungs), then exhale and draw the belly in as much as you can, try and find your pelvic floor muscles at the same time and you will really feel a good draw across your centre; then inhale again quickly filling and inflating the stomach, exhale drawing everything in again... if you can get a nice speed up with this breath it gets really good... try and do 50 really fast! Your head will feel buzzy, your abs will feel sore, and your back will feel off-duty for your next cycle!
Simple Ujayi Breath
2. Breath is key to cycling, if the breath stays high in the chest, cyclists will feel more pressure in their lean across their arms and shoulders... lowering the breath and moving it out of the clavicles and into the bottom of the lungs is one possible solution to tight shoulders.
Again breathe in and out of the nose, inhale and breathe softly into the back of the throat. Putting a slight pressure into the breath brings about a soft noise, like the noise of the sea. Try and increase this noise on the exhale. Continue for 10 rounds of breath.
Cyclists immediately tighten in their gluteus maximus, medius and minims after a ride as well on their outer thigh on their illotibial band. Essentially pigeon stretches these muscles out as well as easing out tight knees and massaging calves.
As the above picture shows bring your left knee in front of your body, you left foot to your right hip. Your right leg behind. You may find this uncomfortable and if you do, place a cushion or a block under your left buttock. Try and bring your hands as close to the hips as you can, keeping them placed on the mat. Breathe here for five breaths and then try this on the opposite side.
4. Ustrasana. (advanced posture)
Forward bends for long periods of time invariably require a reverse bend, only for a few seconds, to help balance up the body.
Kneel with knees hip width apart and move the pelvis forwards, bring the hands to the lower back, with little fingers touching if possible, then lean carefully backwards. Lift the chest and ribs up to the sky or ceiling...only lift the head if it feels comfortable. Now, if you can ... hold for five deep breaths...
These four postures can be practised before or after cycling, always take care with your movement, no forcing or pain should be felt..immediately stop and consult a medical professional if you experience this.
Remember you don't have to always ride your bicycle, you can always paint one instead!