At mtbchick, yoga is an essential part of life. The energy, beauty and strength yoga imparts to the daily routine drives us to take better care of ourselves and our surroundings. Yoga is beautiful because it can be what each practitioner chooses– a religious ceremony, an athletic endeavor, a meditation, a stretch, a workout, a journey, or a part of a daily routine.
We’ve partnered with Elisabeth Lilja, a yogi who helps everyday people integrate a yoga practice into their lives. In our first installation, Elisabeth shows us 3 poses for post ride (or post run, post exercise, post workday) recovery. If this is your first time trying yoga, give yourself some time to adapt, and results will find you. In some instances, Elisabeth will ask for 20-30 breaths. Start with 5, and work up. You’ll get there.
If you’re ready to dive in head first, check out Prana (breath!) for the best yoga apparel on the planet. Our favorites are the Sabin Chakra Top, a BlueSign piece, and the Rylee Knicker, a relaxed yoga capri.
3 Yoga Poses to do After Your Ride
1. Anjaneyasana or Low Lunge Variation
Anjaneyasana or Low Lunge Variation is a GREAT way to open your hip flexors, psoas and quads in addition to strengthening your hips! Quads, psoas and hips flexors are three parts of that body that after a great ride will need a little opening. You have quite a bit going on in this pose. It focuses on multiple parts of the body in addition to what has been listed, but lets stick to the basics here, quads, psoas and hips flexors and if you choose to go further opening the shoulders and neck.
Starting in a Downward Facing Dog place right foot between hands, keeping back toes turned under scoot back foot back 2-3 inches until front knee is behind ankle.
Once knee is behind ankle drop back knee to the floor, making sure you are not on top of the kneecap. Gently draw front knee back over ankle. You want to and will start to feel your left quad. If you have ANY knee pain you can try a few things:
Cushioning your knee by folding your mat, turning back toes flat, pushing the top of the foot strongly into the ground. Make sure you are not directly on the kneecap but above it.
You may choose to keep back toes turned under with heel to the back of the room or you can turn them flat as described above.
Pulling your right glute (butt cheek) to the back of the room to square off in the hips perch up onto your fingertips. Draw the heads of your shoulders back, shoulder blades down the back opening your heart.
Stay here for at least 10 deep long breathes! Yep, not kidding!
If you want to take it further:
Keeping your foundation, the pose you have already set up lift the torso to the front of the room. You can do this by reaching forward and lifting or placing your hands to your right thigh. If you feel ANY knee pain try the same as above or you may want to stay in variation 1.
Once torso is upright clasp hands at the base of your spine. Keeping elbows bent draw elbows into each other opening in chest. Stay here for 5 breaths then begin to draw your arms straight past your glutes. Stay here for another 5 breaths. You are welcome to stay longer… why not!?
2. Runners stretch…but let’s rename it Cyclists stretch!
I.T. Bands and Hamstrings! Yes can we say that again! I.T.Bands and hamstrings! Ever feel pain in the knee or even the low back… yep; well your friends I.T.Bands and Hamstrings may be playing a roll in that. Cyclist stretch will bring you right into feeling both of these body parts and more. Your I.T. bands can often be mistaken as the culprit of Sciatica but that is the piriformis. I.T. bands can cause similar issues but is referred to I.T. band syndrome. This pose will help lengthen the I.T.Bands in addition to hamstrings keeping the back, hips and legs happy after a long ride. You may have the added love of the piriformis too! Bonus!
From Anjaneyasana (fingertips on the ground) turn your back toes under if they are not already. Straighten your front right leg as you pull your right hip back, just like above (right glute to the back of the room).
Try not to sit on your back heel you are hovering over it.
Continuing to pull front hip back thing of drawing the top of your head to the front of the room lengthening in your spine. You are not folding over the front leg, you are lengthening.
Shoulders draw down the back, as front toes stay flexed to your face! Take 20 deep breaths in this awesomeness and enjoy!
3. Dead Pigeon:
Sounds enticing right!? How could it not be opening the I.T. bands and piriformis the lovely cause of sciatica and I.T band syndrome! This is a great and accessible hip opener even to the tightest and grumpiest of hips. You will see that in most of the after ride postures involve your I.T. bands, Piriformis, hamstrings… and so on, lower body. Cyclists tend to have low back issues and a ton of that comes from really tight hips. As Zen as repetitive movement is… it’s not so much on the hips. Dead pigeon awaits you!
Laying on your back place both feet to your mat or floor. Knees over ankles, take a deep breath in placing right ankle over left knee to create a figure four. Flex toes to knee, keeping the Achilles area long.
Keeping both toes flexed reach right arm to the inside of right thigh (the hole created by your figure four), left arm to outside of left thigh. Wrapping arms around LEFT thigh beiging to draw left thigh and bend right leg into your chest.
Keeping your shoulder heads (front of shoulders) opening. You may find that your head and neck come away from the floor. In this case place something under your head, a pillow or blanket will do. For others you may find it difficult to wrap your arms around your thigh. If this is the case place a towel around the right thigh or a strap. Draw thigh towards chest keeping elbows to the side body and shoulder heads open.
Stay here for 20-30 breaths! Yes… you have another side! Enjoy!
~Elisabeth on behalf of mtbchick
Elisabeth discovered yoga when she was 17. Immediately attracted to the power of yoga, Elisabeth completed her certiﬁcation with Dana Baptiste in 2006. Elisabeth has continued her education, studying with Maty Ezraty, Bryan Kest, Rolf Gates, Baron Baptiste, Anna Forest, and many other wonderful teachers. Elisabeth’s passion is to prove that everyone can incorporate yoga into THEIR lifestyle. Her teaching focuses on empowering people, with a focus on women and athletes, to dive deeper into their body’s true ability and strength. In this process, students ﬁnd the amazing beauty that encompasses who they are, and in that, they ﬁnd an acceptance of body and breath. Elisabeth has worked with many Olympic athletes, professional athletes, and high-performance athletes to improve their connection to body, mind, and breath. Elisabeth believes that nature holds an essential piece of the self, and in 2007, she founded MOAB YOGA on the ROCKS, a company that reconnects people to the earth through yoga. MOAB YOGA on the ROCKS offers backpacking and camping yoga retreats. In addition to teaching at En Route Movement and Park City Yoga, Elisabeth teaches and works with women recovering from eating disorders and hopes to incorporate yoga into an innovative rehabilitation movement.
Find more on Elisabeth at www.etlyoga.com