If the winter weather has you dreaming of warmer activities, you may enjoy the continuation of our mountain biking adventures!
In my previous post, I outlined the geekery that occurs in your body in order to be stable on top of a mountain bike. Today, I am happy to introduce some of my favorite Yoga Tune Up® practices to assist so many aspects of your riding experience.
Let’s start with Frog Crawls! Performing this movement builds a bridge between the right and left hemispheres of your brain, which is essential for physical adroitness and hand eye coordination, a necessary component for the trails. We are contralateral beings in our neurological organization, and feeling a bit off kilter is not conducive to riding which requires acute focus. I find Frog Crawls to be an essential mountain biking exercise for my body/mind/spirit constitution for riding.
On a musculoskeletal level you are keeping the spine in Tadasana, stabilizing with the core postural muscles mentioned earlier, while propelling yourself forward with the deep hip flexors. This crawling pattern simultaneously stabilizes the pelvis while mobilizing the shoulders, and spine, and simulates the movement needed to maneuver your bike while staying upright, perfect training for your outdoor experience.
Another strengthening posture is Warrior 3 Squats. These focus on glutei, quadriceps, hamstrings, hips, core and low back. The thrusting motion is so similar to the power phase on your bike. The arms are alongside your ears which automatically requires you to turn on the abdominals to stabilize your back in this long lever. (If you are one who needs special precautions with, or lack strength in your back, I recommend keeping your arms at your side). I like that one leg is used at a time, forcing it to support the load independently. Enlightening you and helping to correct any muscle imbalances as one side may be quite different than the other.
Now to open some areas that may have become hypertonic! The buttocks, and psoas to name just a couple.
Asymmetrical Uttansana is an awesome opener addressing the hindmost of your rear, and as a bonus if your walking stance is feet turned out this could help to realign your legs and ease the lowest part of your back. You will start in a forward bend or Uttanasana with knees bent one foot is on a yoga block (feel free to use a block turned higher for your hands—you may need it!) lean body weight forward to straighten both knees, walk your hands diagonally, and lean toward the hip (block side), then hands go to the other side. This can be a delicious stretch especially if your upper body gives into gravity, while engaging the front of your thighs encouraging hamstrings to open.
Apanasana on a block with one foot at the wall will offer great benefits, disentangling tightness which may have gathered in your psoas and all hip flexors. Lie supine, place your block on its lowest level, and your sacrum upon it, extend your leg, keep a parallel position, and your foot on the wall. Hold onto your other knee and pull it deeply into chest, keeping that side of your waist long, maintaining alignment of sitting bones. To get even added benefit try a PNF by pushing your foot isometrically up the wall.
Yoga and Yoga Tune Up ® can be like health assurance because the work we do on the mat to focus on breath and cultivate a mind body awareness can be transported to the bike to maintain a strong AND supple body, a calm confident mind, improved coordination, capacity, and laser-like clarity.