Everyone loves a good SoulCycle ride, but time on the bike, coupled with all the hours we spend sitting at work and in cars, can leave key areas of the body extra tight. Yoga and spinning are actually the perfect yin and yang.
To help prove this, here are eight yoga poses from my latest book, "Holistic Yoga Flow: The Path of Practice," to incorporate into your daily routine and after spinning that will help open your chest, hamstrings and hips, so you can make the most out of each ride:
1. Standing Forward Fold
This pose builds flexibility in the back body by lengthening and extending the hamstrings, glutes and spinal muscles. It invites the head to drop below the heart, and by doing so helps slow the heart rate and calm the mind.
Stand with your feet together or hips width apart. Exhale and fold forward, allowing the chest to pour over the thighs from the crease of the hips. Depending on your flexibility, the palms may rest on the floor or on blocks. To avoid rounding the back significantly, bend your knees until the spine can lengthen, allowing the chest to rest on the thighs. Over time, your back muscles will gain flexibility, allowing your legs to move toward straight.
2. Low Lunge
This pose lengthens the psoas. If you have sensitive knees or any pain, make sure you place a folded blanket or towel beneath your lowered knee for support.
Step one foot forward, stacking the front knee directly above the front ankle. Place the back knee down and slide the knee back so it's behind your hips. Drawing the chest forward and broadening the collarbones, interlace the fingers on the front knee and straighten the arms to lift the chest. If the posture feels steady and secure, sweep the arms overhead with the biceps near the ears.
3. Pyramid Pose
This pose improves hamstring flexibility. From standing, step one foot back about three to four feet and align the feet heel-to-heel or wider. Turn the back foot forward at a 60 degree angle, allowing the back toes to point almost ahead and keeping the edge of the back foot rooted down.
Square the hips, then fold forward at the hips. Keep drawing the front hip back and hugging the back hip in toward the midline to keep the hips squared. To avoid hyperextending the front leg, keep it slightly bent by gently pressing the top of the front calf forward.
4. Bow Pose
This pose opens the chest and shoulders while stretching the thighs. It also massages the abdominal organs and strengthens the back body, legs, glutes and lower back.
Begin by lying on your abdomen, then bring the knees and big toes close together and bend the knees. Relax your glutes as the heels come toward the sit bones. Grasp the ankles as the feet, and flex. If you can't comfortably reach the ankles, try holding the outside edges of the feet.
Roll the shoulders back, expand the breath into the upper chest and lift the front body. Don't throw your head back; lengthen the back of the neck as the crown of the head reaches toward the sky. Then lift the knees from the floor and press the shins toward the back of the room, as you bring the big toes and knees hip distance apart.
5. Sage Pose
This pose stretches the shoulders, relieves mild backache/hip pain and strengthens and stretches the spine. While seated, extend both legs straight forward, then bend the right knee and place the sole of the foot flat to the floor, aligning the heel with the right sit bone.
Flex the left foot, and draw the left femur into the hip socket to ensure the pelvis faces forward. Place the right hand on the floor a few inches behind the tailbone, and sweep the left arm toward the sky as you lengthen through the left side. Spin the chest toward the right knee, keeping both hip points facing the front. Bend the left elbow, and place it to the outside of the right knee. Roll the right shoulder back and gaze over the right shoulder, keeping the chin parallel to the floor.
6. Reclining Hand To Big Toe Pose
This pose is especially useful for those with back pain, sciatica or tight hamstrings. Beginning on the back, draw one knee to the chest and hook the big toe with the first two fingers. Extend the leg toward the sky, and flex the toes toward the face. Keep the shoulders connected to the floor.
Press the opposite thigh toward the floor while flexing the toes toward the face. Rest the hand on top of that thigh to gently encourage the thigh down. Spin the inner thigh toward the floor. Press the lifted thigh forward, keeping both sides of the waist even and keeping the hips level with each other.
7. Legs Up The Wall
This helps drain fluid from the legs, balances hormones, and can reverse the effects of gravity on the body Sit with one hip against a wall. While lying back, sweep both legs up the wall toward the ceiling. Either reach the arms out to the sides or bend the elbows with the palms facing the ceiling. Draw the shoulders down the back and broaden through the chest. The legs should remain a few inches apart. If they fall away from each other, you can wrap a strap or towel around the shins.
8. Reclining Pigeon/Thread The Needle
This is a cooling hip opener appropriate for everyone, especially those with a history of knee injuries. Begin on your back with the knees drawn in, then place the soles of the feet flat to the floor with the feet hip distance apart. Cross the right ankle at the opposite knee, and actively flex the right foot.
Draw the left thigh toward the chest, and reach the hands around the shin. Wrap the right thigh forward while drawing the left thigh in. Rest the back of the head on the ground, and lengthen the lower back by tilting the sits bones forward.
And there you have it. Use this quaint little yoga routine after every SoulCycle session, and you'll find yourself stretched, relaxed and ready to take on any obstacle the day may throw your way.