Day -16: Deep Stretching / Yin Yoga

One of my favorite forms of yoga is called Yin Yoga.   These are the mellow classes on Sunday afternoons with a yoga instructor who is usually a bit on the plump side and has that look of total peace and ease that we all fantasize about.   In my layman’s understanding there are three “philosophies” to Yin Yoga — hold each stretch for 3-5 minutes, use a pose that let’s your body weight do all of the work (versus having to “push”) and maintain steady and meditative breathing to push deeper (and mask the modest pain of joints / tendons / ligaments being stretched beyond what they are used to).

Most people only stretch each pose for 30-60 seconds and in my humble opinion derive almost no benefit.   Try a simple Yin pose — stand with your legs 12 centimeters apart, bend at the waist and just hang down to touch your toes.   For most of us, you won’t reach your toes.   But just keep hanging.   Breathe in very steadily, even noisily — 5 counts in, 5 counts out.   After a minute, you’re probably still at the same point.   Now just relax your back and let yourself fall a little closer.   Relax your hamstrings, and fall a little closer.   Relax your neck and fall a little closer.   I guarantee you at the 3 minute point you will be 2-5 centimeters closer, and at 5 minutes 3-6 (from where you started).   That is Yin Yoga.   Some call it restorative yoga.

I asked Yun, a yoga instructor who used to teach at my old yoga studio, to come up with two routines I could do post-ride to try to be ready for the next day.   By coincidence my cycling coach had asked me to “do an hour of deep stretching after long rides, holding each stretch 3-5 minutes”.   Sounds like Yin Yoga to me.

Yun’s Instagram is @yun.wildorchid

Below are my two routines; I share them with you for your stretching pleasure.   I also have this funny Apple application I found that you can fill in the routine and this voice will announce the transitions between sets (it’s called Yoga Timer).   So you can put on good music, completely zone out, and let this little robot voice guide you through the routine.   You save the 20-40 minutes each day going to a yoga studio.   You could even do a session watching Game of Thrones.

Yun’s Post-Ride Stretch #1 (45-60 minutes).   This one has a bit more for the lower back.

  • (5minutes) Saddle / Virasana (sit on folded legs with towel behind knees)
    • 1-2 minutes with palms placed in front, fingers pointed at knees (this gives the arms that have been on the handlebars all day a nice stretch)
    • 1-2 minutes with back of the hands placed in front, fingers pointed at each other
  • (3 minutes x 2) Supine twist
    • Lie down, bring right knee up to a 90 degree angle
    • Rotate the right knee to the left until it touches the ground
    • Hold the pose with the back flat, bent right knee to left side.   Try to keep knee  at 90 degrees, not 60 degrees
    • Repeat with left leg on top, left knee to right side
  • (5 minutes) Banded butterfly
    • Go into butterfly (soles of feet together, seated with good posture
    • Create a loop around waist and mid-sole; tighten (tight but not uncomfortable
    • Lie on back with butterfly in the air
  • (5 minutes) Forward bend
    • Sit on block (front edge); legs straight out
    • Use band around feet, hold comfortably close to toes (or hold onto the outsides of feet if you are flexible)
    • Lean forward; let head go limp; pull
    • Keep cinching up the band until eventually can hold sides of feet
  • (2 minutes x4 points x2) Tennis ball on pressure points
    • Pick 4 point on each side of the spine (Glutes, lower back, near neck) and rest for 2 minutes each point
    • Repeat on left and ride side
  • (4 minutes x2) Quads block
    • Lie on back with two blocks — one under lower back and one under shoulders
    • Wind removing pose each leg (basically bring one leg to a right angle.   Clasp behind the knee with both hands.   Pull down and slight out.   Put real tension on (OK, this isn’t true Yin because you have to exert)
    • Repeat other leg
  • Final twist (3 minutes x 2)
    • Left leg straight up with band; right leg resting straight on floor; band around mid-sole
    • Pull over to right side
    • Repeat with right leg

Yun’s Post-Ride Stretch #2 (45-60 minutes).   This one has a bit more for the calves

  • (3-5 minutes)  Down dog
    • Both legs for 1-2 minutes
    • After 1 leg alone; use other leg to press down on the foot; can have slight knee bend
  • (3 minutes)  Squat
    • Option to fold hands behind neck and pull down
  • (5 minutes) Saddle / Virasana (sit on folded legs with towel behind knees
    • 1-2 minutes with back of the hands placed in front, fingers pointed at knees
    • 1-2 minutes with back of the hands placed in front, fingers pointed at each other
  • (5 minutes) Forward bend
    • Sit on block (front edge); legs straight out
    • Use band around feet, hold comfortably close to toes
    • Lean forward; let head go limp; pull
    • Keep cinching up the band until eventually can hold toes
  • (3 minutes each leg) “Splits training”
    • Left leg back, one straight about 1:00 pm
    • Place a block under the front leg
    • Use a block under the face to push up
    • Repeat with other side
    • This is a pretty intense stretch for me
  • (5 minutes) butterfly on blocks
    • Place blocks on bottom of spine and between shoulder blades (perpendicular to spine)
    • Go into butterfly
    • Hold elbows behind head
  • (3 minutes each leg).   Low lunge
  • (3 minutes x 2) Pigeon
  • (2 minutes x 2 points x 2 legs) Tennis ball on calf pressure points
    • Sit on block; Sit with legs at 90 degrees
    • Bring in one leg to inside other leg and then put two tennis ball under calf of opposite leg
  •  (4 minutes x2) Quads block
    • Lie on back with two blocks — one under lower back and one under shoulders
    • Wind removing pose each leg

Thursday, 17 May 2018 Training:   Because of my two vaccinations yesterday my doctor asked me not to do any hard exercise today.   So Jenny and I spent 60 minutes with Yun on “Yun’s post-ride stretch #2”.

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