Pro-cyclist and Olympian Taylor Phinney shares the yoga poses that help him both on and off the bike.
When Taylor isn’t on his bike, you can more than likely find him meditating, painting, or spending time on his yoga mat. In this post, we asked Taylor to share with us why he enjoys yoga, and what poses help him both on and off the bike.
"I do yoga out of necessity to return a sense of balance to my body and mind. While cycling all day is liberating and beautiful in its own right, adapting your asymmetrical body to a symmetrical piece of carbon or titanium (or steel for you badasses) for hours on end causes unforgiving misalignment that can only be remedied off the bike. Yoga is not a workout, yoga is whatever you want it to be. The term yoga encompasses all of life, what we are getting into here is asana and pranayama, or simply; movement and breath. Here are some poses that have been handed down through thousands of years to help you to realign your fluid body, cleanse yourself of impurities and reverse the trend of injury that can result from excessive stress on the body and mind.
Simplicity is key in this restoration process. Move with your breath and listen to your body, your overall intention will sculpt itself and continue to evolve as you move. All you have to do is show up and honor yourself." - Taylor Phinney
The below yoga poses were led by yoga teacher Dan Carbonell.
Benefits: Stretches hip flexors (especially psoas muscle) and obliques. Brings balance to cyclists that repeatedly engage their hip flexors to lift their thighs.
Where you’ll feel it: hip flexors and obliques
Seated Figure Four
Benefits: Stretches "deep six" muscles (external hip rotators); improves mobility through the hip joint to promote a more efficient stride.
Where you'll feel it: back of hips
Twisted Monkey Lunge
Benefits: Stretches hip flexors, quads, and abs; opens the front of the body to balance cycling position.
Where you’ll feel it: abs, hip flexors and quads
Wide-Legged Forward Fold
Benefits: Stretches hamstrings, leg adductors, and calves
Where you’ll feel it: hamstrings
Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings. Notice the different positions of Taylor's toes in the photos to get a different stretch in the hamstring.
Where you’ll feel it: mainly in the front extended hamstring and the back leg quad.
Benefits: Strengthens glutes and muscles that support the spine; strengthens the muscles that stretch on the bike. Working the upper back muscles improves posture and helps relieve stress and fatigue caused by slouching forward.
Where you'll feel it: glutes and back muscles
Benefits: Stretches the front of the body, particularly the throat, chest, shoulders, abs, leg adductors (inner legs), and intercostals (the muscles between your ribs). Strengthens the upper back muscles and the back of the neck, which improves spinal flexibility and posture.
Where you’ll feel it: Shoulders, hip flexors, and spine
Half Lord of the Fishes
Benefits: Stretches shoulders, hips, and neck. Releases the whole back and realigns the spine. Also helps counteract the crouching inherent in cycling.
Where you’ll feel it: shoulders, hips and spine
Benefits: Opens up the chest and shoulders which feels great after being hunched over on a bike for hours on end.
Where you’ll feel it: chest and shoulders
Legs Up The Wall
Benefits: Elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build-up. In addition, gravity assists circulation by facilitating the return of blood back to the heart. Soothes swollen or cramped feet and legs, stretches hamstrings, and relieves lower back tension.
Where you’ll feel it: mainly in your legs and low back
About Dan Carbonell
A lifelong athlete, Dan first came to his yoga mat looking to build core strength and improve flexibility for his other endeavors. However, it only took one vinyasa class for him to understand the practice’s transformational power. A successful thirty-day challenge followed and he was hooked. After bouncing around a few studios in the Washington, DC area, Dan moved to Boulder, CO and jumped head first into its amazing yoga community. When not immersed in the world of yoga, you can find Dan climbing, running, and enjoying all the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer.
Dan's classes are accessible to practitioners of all ability levels and he loves guiding students down the difficult, but rewarding path of extraordinary consciousness and self-empowerment. For Dan, yoga isn't about flexibility, yoga is about meeting the sensation of your own inflexibility with compassion and using the breath as a vehicle for cultivating bodily awareness. For this reason, Dan's classes place a high emphasis on the breath practice and he encourages his students to come to their mats with an open mind, a light heart, and most importantly, a willingness to have fun! In Boulder? Attend one of Dan's classes at Yoga Pod.