Yoga for Cyclists
  Kurt Ellingson 12:00 AM
I have been both an avid cyclist and yoga teacher in Vancouver for nearly two years. Naturally, I have come across many people in the cycling community looking for a good stretch! Many have expressed an interest in yoga, but have felt intimidated by the thought of attending a class at a studio. The picture of a cliche yoga class (a large, sandalwood-scented room full of only the uber-flexible, moving as one unit, and chanting in another language) can be daunting to someone who might feel they are less flexible, coordinated, or knowledgeable about human anatomy. This is unfortunate, because it is often this intimidation that keeps the people who need yoga the most from giving it a try.

The most common question I receive from the yoga-curious is "Am I too inflexible to do yoga?” A legitimate concern, perhaps, but in reality, being too "inflexible” to do yoga is almost as illogical as being too hungry to eat! With that said, it is important to choose a class with a teacher that will provide modifications for beginners and those with injuries. Look for a yoga studio or a class at a community center that offers an introductory class for beginners, and if they don't have one, ask what teachers provide a slower or more gentle class.

For now, here are three simple yoga postures you can do in the privacy of your own home. These postures will help to improve the flexibility of your hips and legs, as well as strengthen your lower back.

Two knee twist - Lie on your back with your knees together towards your chest (modify by keeping the feet on the ground). Inhale with your knees in center, and exhale to take the knees over to the right side. Place your right hand on top of the knees, and extend the left arm to the left, looking out over your left thumb. Stay here for 5-10 breaths. Switch sides.

Supine pigeon - Lie on your back with your feet on the floor directly below your knees, hip distance apart. Pick up your right foot and place the outer blade of your foot on your left thigh. Flex your toes towards your knee and let the right knee move forward (shin is parallel with the floor, and is moving forward to become parallel with the wall in front of you). If you feel a stretch, stay here. Optional: pick up the whole piece and interlace your fingers behind your left thigh. Inhale to relax and draw your tailbone towards the ground, and exhale to draw the legs closer to the chest. Take 5-10 breaths, and repeat on the other side.

Butterfly - Sit up and take the soles of the feet together. If your low back is round (ie. slouching), use some height (a block, firm pillow, or a rolled up blanket), and slide forward to come to the tops of your sitz bones. This should help to move the low back in. If it doesn't, take your hands behind you and lean back until you can feel your tail bone lifting and your low back moving inwards. If the pelvis is directly upright and you feel balanced, hold on to your feet or ankles and let your knees move towards the floor. Take a deep inhale, and only if your knees are relatively close to the ground, begin to draw your chest towards your toes, keeping your low back in. Stay here for 5-10 breaths.

* The suggestions given in the above article are not meant in any way to be taken as medical advice or in place of a physician's course of treatment. Please consult your doctor before beginning a new fitness regimen, like yoga, and always respect the limitations of your own body!

* Interested in attending a "yoga for cyclists" class in Vancouver? Email Brenna at for more information on current classes, or to get one started near you!

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