Sunday, June 20, 2010
Yoga While Cycling
I’ve read lots and lots of articles about Yoga and Cycling, but never anything about yoga while cycling. Maybe that is because it’s darn difficult to do. But today I had a great experience from stretching while cycling. And before I go any further I just want to say that I am not in any way recommending that anyone who may be reading this attempts to ride their bicycles without holding the handlebars. If you are not a cyclist that regularly sits back and rides ‘hands free’ than perhaps you shouldn’t read any further. But if you’re like me and are accustomed to riding hands free, or maybe you’re a unicyclist, than by all means, read on.
For the past two days I’ve been suffering from (what I think is) a pinched nerve in my upper right back. When I move in certain ways I get strange unexplained shooting pains. Sometimes it feels as though a creature with extremely sharp teeth has a hold of me and won’t let go. Or perhaps this is what it feels like to get shot and have the bullet still lodged in you. Bottom line, it’s no picnic and I’ve been miserable in pain. But, of course, that doesn’t stop me from hiking, biking, kayaking, or doing yoga. I must beat this thing!
So this morning I started my day with my favorite 30 minute yoga routine. By 20 minutes into the routine I was convinced that yoga is going to cure me. I was feeling great. Every down dog and side plank gave me more and more relief and I was thrilled. Until I got to the chair pose. For whatever reason putting my arms out in front of me and slightly lifted is a recipe for disaster. The shooting pains started again and I barely got through the rest of the routine. My spirits were breaking and I knew I needed a bike ride.
Fortunately, the riding position on my road bike was favorable to my pinched nerve and most of the ride was pain-free. But when I deviated from my standard riding position (by standing up, moving my hand position on the bars, or going over rough gravel roads) the pain started again. I remembered a tip I recently learned from a yoga and pilates instructor . . . she showed me a great back stretch that involved hunching up your shoulders, rolling them all the way back and then dropping them as far down as you can. That move completely opens your chest. From that point you bring your arms almost to a ‘namaste’ position in front of your chest, only instead of having your palms facing each other you point one palm to the ground, the other to the sky and clasp your fingers together while pulling one hand firmly with the other. The more tension you use to pull on your fingers, the better stretch you get along your back. It’s pure magic and I performed this little number several times while riding my bike today. I’m pretty sure it’s what got me through the otherwise painful ride. I am going to continue to practice yoga while riding, pinched nerve or not. It was great!