- - "BREATHE. MOVE. ACTIVATE": Core Threatening and Stretching

“BREATHE. MOVE. ACTIVATE”: Core Threatening and Stretching

article by Mo Bruno-Roy  

Mo Bruno Roy is a long-time cyclocross competitor having raced over 300 elite national level races. Her results include over 100 podium finishes and two World Championship team appearances. After a retirement season in 2014 – 2015, the muscular therapist and yoga teacher is enjoying life organized around the experience of the bike. From mid-winter fat bike tours near her Boston home to cycling advocacy outreach and epic rides in between, Mo knows pedaling. She offers up insights and a practice for cyclists in this, the second of three posts on yoga and cycling. To check out part 1, click here.

This series offers active poses- postures that help engage and activate cycling muscles and support muscles in particular. Follow along for more in your core and beyond.

Active Poses

Plank Pose

-Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders. Breathe smoothly and evenly through your nose.

-Spread your fingers and press down through your forearms and hands. Do not let your chest collapse.

-Gaze down between your hands, lengthening the back of your neck and drawing your abdominal muscles toward your spine.

-Tuck your toes and step back with your feet, bringing your body and head into one straight line.

-Keep your thighs lifted and take care not to let your hips sink too low. If your hips stick up in the air, realign your body so your shoulders are directly above your wrists.

-Draw your pelvic floor muscles toward your spine as you contract your abdominal muscles. Keep your head in line with your spine. Broaden across your shoulder blades and across your collarbones.

-Draw down through the bases of your index fingers — do not let your hands roll open toward the pinkie fingers.

-Press the front of your thighs (quadriceps) up toward the ceiling while lengthening your tailbone toward your heels.

*Hold the pose while breathing smoothly for five breaths. If you are using the pose to build strength and stamina, hold for up to five minutes. To release, slowly lower onto your knees, then press back into child’s pose and rest.

Downward Facing Dog

-Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. The fold of your wrists should be parallel with the top edge of your mat. Point your middle fingers directly to the top edge of your mat.

-Stretch your elbows and relax your upper back.

-Spread your fingers wide and press firmly through your palms and knuckles. Distribute your weight evenly across your hands.

-Exhale as you tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Reach your pelvis up toward the ceiling, and then draw your sit bones toward the wall behind you. Gently begin to straighten your legs, but do not lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an “A.” Imagine your hips and thighs being pulled backwards from the top of your thighs. Do not walk your feet closer to your hands — keep the extension of your whole body.

-Press the floor away from you as you lift through your pelvis. As you lengthen your spine, lift your sit bones up toward the ceiling. Now press down equally through your heels and the palms of your hands.

-Firm the outer muscles of your arms and press your index fingers into the floor. Lift from the inner muscles of your arms to the top of both shoulders. Draw your shoulder blades into your upper back ribs and toward your tailbone. Broaden across your collarbones.

-Rotate your arms externally so your elbow creases face your thumbs.

-Draw your chest toward your thighs as you continue to press the mat away from you, lengthening and decompressing your spine.

-Engage your quadriceps. Rotate your thighs inward as you continue to lift your sit bones high. Sink your heels toward the floor.

-Align your ears with your upper arms. Relax your head, but do not let it dangle. Gaze between your legs or toward your navel.

-Hold for 2-5 breaths.

-To release, exhale as you gently bend your knees and come back to your hands and knees or shift your weight slightly forward coming into Plank Pose. You can alternate between Plank Pose and Downward Dog for 5-10 cycles.

High and Low Lunge

-Begin in downward facing dog. With an exhalation, step your right foot forward between your hands. (use your hand on the back of your heel to assist your foot up in between the hands if it does not make it all the way.)

-With your fingertips on the mat or blocks, bend your front knee to 90 degrees, aligning your knee directly over the heel of your front foot. Your feet should be hip-width apart with both feet facing forward, and your front shin should be perpendicular to the floor.

-Come on to the ball of your back foot, lifting your heel and drawing it forward so it aligns directly over your back toes.

-Lower your back knee to the floor and slide your leg back a few inches. Un-tuck your back toes and rest the top of your back foot on the floor.

-Place your hands on your hips, and inhale as you raise your torso to an upright position. Sweep your arms overhead. Draw your tailbone toward the floor. Spin your pinky fingers toward each other, opening your arms so your palms face each other. Gently tilt your head and gaze up at a space between your thumbs.

-If you feel stable or wish to work on balance, lift your back leg strongly, drawing your knee and quadriceps up toward the ceiling. Straighten your back leg completely.

-With your back leg strong and active, gently draw your left hip forward as you press your right hip back, squaring your hips so they are parallel to the top edge of your mat.

-Make sure your front shin stays vertical. (your knee should not move inward) Widen your stance as needed to make sure that your knee does not move forward past your ankle.

-Extend up through the crown of your head, lengthening your upper body. Draw your shoulder blades firmly into your upper back.

-Draw your lower front ribs in and down toward your belly — do not let them poke forward.

-Hold for several breaths or up to one minute. Release your hands back to the mat and step back into Downward Dog. Repeat on the other side.



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