We know a few people in town doing The Ride to Conquer Cancer this weekend and we couldn't be more inspired. Whether you're biking 200+ kms on the regs, bike to work, or bike the sea wall on sunny days, these super simple poses are for you.
Yoga model: Andrea Barber repping her team- To The Max Cycling.
1. CAT/ COW
WHAT TO DO: Get onto all fours (shoulders over wrists, hips over knees).
INHALE- arch the spine, dip belly, look up. Think of pulling the chest forwards and up between the hands.
EXHALE- round the spine, tuck the tailbone, look to bellybutton. Think of pushing the ground away from you.
WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Cat/cow is everyone's favourite yoga warm up for the spine. It's also a great opportunity to stretch out any tightness in the shoulders & chest.
2. VARIATION ON PUPPY/ CHILD'S POSE
WHAT TO DO: From Pose #1, weave right arm underneath/ through the left. Roll to the outside of the right shoulder and take the right cheek to the mat. Shift hips slightly to the right to get deeper in to the stretch. Breath into your upper back/ space between the shoulder blades.
WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Goodbye tight shoulders!
3. CAMEL PREP POSE (OR FULL CAMEL)
WHAT TO DO: Come on to your knees and take the knees hip width's distance apart. (Toes can be tucked or untucked). Heel of the hands to the lower back, start to slide your tailbone down, roilling the pelvis forwards. Hips come forwards as you start to send your chest towards the sky. You can stop here or continue on into full camel by walking your hands down the back of your legs and taking hold of your heels. Gaze can be up overhead or at your bellybutton if the former bothers your neck. Focus on keeping your breath full, hips forward (to avoid dumping into lower back), elbows gathered together and shoulders back and down.
WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: After hours of being hunched over, stretch out your front body with this super simple pose.
4. DOWN DOG- CALF STRETCH
WHAT TO DO: From all fours, tuck your toes, and push your hips back and up towards the sky. Alternate between bending and straightening one leg at a time, focusing on digging the ball of your foot into the mat each time while sinking the opposite leg's heel into the ground (take a step back if needed so that you feel a reach in the extended leg.)
WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: To get those tires spinning, the backs of your legs are working overtime. Soothe them with this little bonus in downward dog.
5. HALF SPLIT- IT BAND & TWIST/ CHEST OPENER VARIATION
WHAT TO DO: From downward dog, step left foot forwards between the hands. Lower right knee to the ground. Start to send your hips back so they stack overtop of the right knee while straightening the left leg- working on pushing/ sliding the heel (flexed foot!) away from you. From here, take left hand to left hip crease and push the left hip back. Keep right hand on the ground as you extend left hand to the sky.
WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Another juicy one for the legs- this pose was actually one of Andrea's favourite picks. It does quadruple duty- stretching out the hammies, the IT Band, and the chest while acting as a twist as well.
6. PYRAMID POSE
WHAT TO DO: Standing tall on your mat, step right foot back on the mat while keeping the front leg bent. Feet should be hip width's distance apart and long enough of a stance so that you feel a reach in your back heel and a stretch down your back leg. There will be a 45 degree turnout to the back foot. Plug into the heel of the back foot to push the right hip forwards (to square the hips). With spine straight, start to hinge forwards while straightening the front leg. Bum will push back (slight arch in the lower back to keep the lower back flat). Fingertips can reach for the ground, the front shin, or blocks. If the ground feels really far away, take hands to hips. Try to avoid roundness in the upper back by engaging the shoulder blades.
WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: More hammies/ back of leg stretching because they're probably feeling pretty sore.
7. MODIFIED RABBIT POSE
WHAT TO DO: Sit down with knees bent to the sky and feet on the ground. Weave right arm underneath right calf and top of left shin. Weave left arm underneath left calf and on top of right shin. Walk heels close to your sitting bones. Tuck forehead towards knees and chin into chest. Allow roundness in the upper back and start to straighten the arms as you pull away. You don't need to go very far to feel this right in between the shoulder blades.
WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Another one of Andrea's favs, this pose is a great one for the upper back/ shoulders.