Yin Yoga is extremely effective for both physical and mental wellbeing. Physically it can help reduce the risk of injury and improve range of movement. Therefore Yin Yoga is a great compliment to running and cycling. Runners and cyclists tend to be very stiff, particularly in the hamstrings and lower back. Evidence shows you can lengthen the muscles of your hamstrings and lower back after just 6 months of practising Yin.
One of the great things about practising Yin for runners and cyclists is that it’s key to injury prevention. Overuse injuries resulting from muscular or structural imbalance are common to these sports. Yin Yoga helps maintain the health of the connective tissues that connect muscle-to-muscle, muscle-to-bone and bone-to-bone.
Here are four Yin poses that can help you stay flexible and strong on the track:
DRAGON (AKA LIZARD LUNGE)
Come into a low lunge with your front foot as wide as your mat. To deepen the stretch, move your back knee a little further backwards. Bring your hands or forearms to the inside of your front foot. Hold for 2 minutes before changing sides. This pose can put a lot of compression on the front ankle, so pay attention to any signs of pain or injury.
Lie down on your belly with your elbows under your shoulders and your legs relaxed. You can keep your head in a neutral position or let it fall forward, and if you have a block you can rest your forehead onto it. Sphinx pose creates a gentle compression in the spine to help maintain spinal health and integrity. Hold this pose for about 3 minutes.
From sitting with the legs extended, bend one knee and bring the sole of your foot to the earth. Then take the opposite ankle and rest it across that thigh. From here you can begin to recline backwards. Take one hand through the gap in the legs and one hand going around the outside and take hold of either your thigh or your shin. Repeat on both sides, holding for around 3 or 4 minutes.
TWISTED ROOTS (AKA SUPINE TWIST)
From a reclined position, cross your legs as though you were sitting on a chair. Keeping your legs crossed, lower them down to one side, coming into a supine twist. Here you can extend your arms out to the sides or cactus your arms for more of a chest opening. Repeat on both sides, holding for around 4 minutes.
Close your session with a few minutes in corpse pose and/or seated meditation.