Crankworx Whistler 2016: Yoga To Halve Your Recovery Time

Aug 15, 2016
by Abi Carver  
Yoga For Athletic Recovery

The Yin sequence I've designed for you this month focuses specifically on recovery – it will help to maximize your body's repair in between rides, increase your stamina, reduce muscle soreness, decrease your risk of injury and get the most out of your time in Whistler.

What is Yin yoga?

Yin is a slow and deeply relaxing style of yoga in which you hold each pose for a minimum of 3 minutes on each side, supporting yourself on blocks and cushions for maximum comfort. It was designed thousands of years ago to prepare the body for long periods of seated meditation. Martial arts expert Paulie Zink brought it to the west in the 1970s, when he discovered that it was the most effective way for his students to increase their flexibility and range of motion.

Why is Yin yoga suitable for you?

I briefly explained the Chinese concept of yin and yang in my last article. Most of your training is yang – fast, intense and competitive. Yin energy is calming and supports recovery and restoration. To build strength, stamina and power, you need to allow time for your muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones to repair.

Also, intense exercise tends to shorten and tighten muscles. Yin yoga relaxes the body and calms the mind. In this state, your muscles are much more receptive to stretching. As you slow down your breath and settle into the poses, you will naturally let go of areas of tension and tightness.

This makes it the ideal style of yoga to complement your trip to Crankworx.

What are the features of Yin yoga?

Yin yoga:

- improves flexibility
- increases joint mobility
- supports athletic recovery
- calms the mind and body
- reduces stress and anxiety

How to do it

- Follow the instructions to get into each pose and then support yourself however you need to with pillows and cushions. I've given you some guidelines below.
- Hold each pose for 3-5 minutes on each side. Use a timer.
- Breathe in and out through your nose. Your exhalations should be roughly twice the length of your inhalations. So, inhale for the count of 4 and exhale for the count of 8.
- When you've found your edge in each pose, try to remain completely still. This requires much more discipline than you might expect.
- Do not put yourself in any position that causes you pain.
- When you have settled into the pose, visualise your bones becoming heavy and sinking into the mat. Allow gravity to stretch your muscles and loosen up tight joints.

When and how often should you practice

The best time to do a yin routine is in the evening when your muscles are warm and pliable. Avoid any intense exercise after a deep stretching session as you are at higher risk of injury when your muscles and central nervous system are relaxed. Repeat this sequence every day or every other day during your time at Crankworx.

Click on the images for video tutorials of each pose.

1. Child's Pose

Child s Pose


- You can rest your head on a pillow or cushion.
- If you can't sit back on your heels, put a cushion between your calves and hamstrings.

Stretches the:

- Upper and lower back
- Hips, knees and ankles

2. Thread The Needle

Thread The Needle Pose


- You can rest your head on a pillow or cushion.
- Bring your top hand to your lower back or increase the twist by taking hold of your opposite thigh.

Stretches the:

- Chest, shoulders and torso

3. Pigeon

Pigeon Pose


- You can rest your forehead on a pillow or cushion.
- If your hips are not level, support the hip of your bent leg on a cushion.

Stretches the:

- Triceps and shoulders
- Outer hips, piriformis and glutes
- Hip flexors and quads

4. Fish

Fish Pose


- You can put a block under your mid-back.
- Bring your arms out wide to open up your chest.

Stretches the:

- Upper and lower back
- Chest, shoulders and abs

5. Head To Knee

Head To Knee Pose


- You can rest your forehead on pillows or cushions.

Stretches the:

- Calves and hamstrings
- Hips
- Upper and lower back

6. 2-Knee Reclining Spinal Twist

Reclining Spinal Twist


- You can rest your knees on a pillow or cushion if they don't come all the way down to the mat.

Stretches the:

- Lower back
- Abs and obliques
- Chest and shoulders
- Neck

7. Reclining Butterfly

Reclining Butterfly


- You can lie back on a pillow positioned lengthwise along your spine.
- You can support your knees on cushions.

Stretches the:

- Hips and groin
- Abs
- Chest and shoulders
- Upper and lower back

8. Final Resting Pose

Views: 3,465    Faves: 24    Comments: 2


- If this position is uncomfortable, put a pillow under your knees.

Guided Meditation

Click on the video above and I'll guide you through a body scan meditation.

Crankworx Resources

If you'd like to try more routines, I've put together a video series of daily 15-minute yoga sessions to cover you for Crankworx Whistler 2016. It contains 10 videos from the Relaxation series for each day of the event plus one for Core Strength, Balance, Achey Neck and Shoulders, a Guided Meditation and a Conscious Breathing exercise. Here is the link:

Previous Yoga with Abi:
How To Release Tight Quads And Increase Your Power
How To Release Chronically Tight Hamstrings
A Challenging One-Hour Yoga Flow Class
Take Control of Your Mind and Push Your Personal Limits
Yoga To Relieve Pain In Between The Shoulder Blades
15-Minute Routine To Unlock Tight Hips
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Build Core Strength
Short Yoga Routine To Help With Lower Back Pain in Bikers
15-Minute Yoga Routine To Enhance Balance and Agilityl
15-Minute Post-Ride Yoga Routine
8 Quick Yoga Stretches To Do At Work

MENTIONS: @yoga15app

Photo credit: Sean Reagan Photography


  • 103 1
 Hmmmmmm...You call it "Child's Pose" but, I do this regularly and call it "Can't Face Work Today Pose"... Smile
  • 35 4
 You call it "Thread the Needle"
I call it "Passed out at the urinal"
  • 25 0
 Is there such a thing as yoga for your hands? Anything for some relief from "bike park claw"! Now that would be Whistler/Crankworx specific.
  • 4 0

I'd highly recommend a device called an NSD "Powerball". Its a small hand spun gyro exerciser (18,000 rpm+) with a digital RPM counter

Super useful for injury rehab and developing very powerful upper body including grip strength and fatigue resistance
  • 4 0
 I know it's cool to ride gloveless and with thin grips...but try a thick grip if you haven't(30mm+) Made a big difference for me and other riders I know. Fork set up too....if you're getting resonance or 'chatter' feedback from your fork...kills hands fast. One or two clicks on the compression damping can make a huge difference in that.
  • 4 0
 Bike park claw is usually a sign of hanging back with your ass too much or braking too much...
I'm not trying to sound like a pro, but when I get it - and that is usually after I haven't had a bikepark ride for a loong time - then I know I'm doing something wrong.
Get a more aggressive position and bring your Chest with 50-75% slack in your arms to the bar. Also helps for blisters... and I know because I'm a blister guy.
  • 3 0
 @loopie: i installed my first fat grips last week. Big difference in hand fatigue.
  • 1 0
 Okay, I'm glad "bike park claw" is a documented phenomenon--I was beginning to worry about early onset arthritis. Just bought some puffy ol' granny grips and a fork rebuild kit!
  • 1 0
 Get a Dorado Pro.
  • 1 0
 The one I do for forearms and fingers: extend your arm in front of you, palm facing up. With the other hand pull gently on each fingers separatly for a minute (as you were trying to hyperextend them).
  • 3 0
 To release tight forearms and fingers:

- mobilise them before you ride with finger rolls (palms up, spread your fingers, roll your pinkie to your thumb into your palm and roll them back out several times) and make circles both ways with your wrists.

- stretch them after your ride - arm out in front of you, palm up, pull back on your fingers, hold - and then stretch one finger at a time.

Hope that helps.
  • 1 0
 Also, you could look into supplementing magnesium if you suffer from cramps:
  • 1 0
  • 14 0
 That screenshot of the Body Scan Meditation, finally something in her series I can do.
  • 9 1
 My muscles don't hurt, but every. single. finger. hurts for days after shredding Whistler.... I need yoga for my fingers. Abi?
  • 1 0
 I posted may be of some help to you as well
  • 3 1
 I find threading then needle, pigeon, and butterfly are perfect after a hard ride/workout. Makes the post yoga beer so much better. Still working on 2 knee twist, lower back/hips don't have it yet.
  • 1 0
 Try supporting your knees on cushions. You don't have to get them all the way to the floor. Reclining Twist is about releasing pressure at your lower back, increasing mobility along the entire length of the spine and opening up your chest, shoulders and neck. It's great for alleviating lower back pain. Then you can have beer.
  • 6 1
 I'm a master of the 8th position Big Grin
  • 1 0
 This is great - the idea of "Yin" stretching/poses.
I also think that any stretches (not necessarily called Yoga stretches), that you know or learn, and that you go into progressively and hold for a bit - like maybe 90 seconds, with controlled breathing, and go deeper into the stretch slowly, as you exhale, will give the same benefit.
I see a lot of people (like fellow riders), do a stretch and only hold it for a few seconds, which does nothing - if anything ends up makes the muscles tighter.
  • 3 0
 Your intuition is bang on. Holding stretches for less than 30 seconds – which is what most of us do after exercising – does not result in sustained changes to muscle tissue length. You not only have to hold the stretch for longer but also, as you say, by controlling your breath you switch to your parasympathetic nervous system which tells your brain that it is safe to go deeper. If you try to use force, the 'stretch reflex' will prevent your muscles from lengthening.
  • 1 0
 I just started the lower back yoga you announced many months ago. Even after just 3 sessions i'm starting to feel a lot more flexible. I also got a couple acupuncture appointments in. Figure I need all the help I can get before hitting Crankworks tomorrow through the weekend Smile

At 42 yrs old I have no idea how anyone gets into the Wheel or the half-reclining hero positions. I can't even get close.
  • 1 0
 I'm sorry I didn't see your comment earlier. It's very common not to be able to get into Wheel and Half Reclining Hero if you're new to yoga. Most of the guys I see can't get anywhere close and they are mostly mid-twenties. It sounds as though you need to work on the flexibility in your shoulders, hips and quads. Keep doing what you can from the routines that I've posted and if you're consistent, you'll start to see a difference. Try to spend 15 minutes on increasing your flexibility, 5 days a week. I know it's a big commitment but anything less is not going to give you the results you're looking for.
  • 3 0
 This one really interests me....I also really appreciate the links to previous articles. Thanks again Abi!
  • 1 0
 Let me know how you get on. The discipline in this style of sequence is in timing the length of your pose and staying as still as you can.
  • 3 0
 Great videos series, I'm noticing the benefits to my cycling after only a few week. Thanks Abi.
  • 2 0
 That's awesome. Let me know if there is anything I can help you with.
  • 3 0
 Going to be precautious, and actually get into this hopefully. Probably should have done that a long time ago.
  • 8 0
 Seriously, don't delay. I ignored these articles for about a year and then one day I couldn't take the constant ache anymore: I started and do not regret it. If I don't any of Abi's routine for a week, I start to feel the 'ol pains coming back to my 44y.o. back. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Abi's articles have improved my life more than anything else on pinkbike, perhaps even everything else!
  • 2 0
 "A year from now you may wish you had started today." Karen Lamb
  • 2 0
 I'll take that!
  • 3 0
 Stretching after working out: my most egregious error.
  • 5 3
 Sheez, now we've gone from 'enduro' specific to 'Whistler' specific....
  • 5 1
 Which on the whole is much more important
  • 3 0
 Thanks Abi! Smile
  • 3 0
 No probs. Let me know how you get on. It should make a huge difference to muscle soreness.
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: I like the respiration technique! I did try something similar before: humming and it worked surprisingly well. Thanks again for sharing with us!
  • 1 0
 Like always it's amazing Abi. Thank you.
  • 2 0
 Thanks! This one is a lot less painful than the others. I thought I'd give you guys a break!
  • 1 0
 @yoga15app: Wink it feels amazing.
  • 1 0
 @BTKMADDOG: it should do. Enlightenment is just around the corner!
  • 1 0
 Well.Yoga...I shall try it Smile
  • 1 0
 Brave man!
  • 1 0
 Another great tutorial. I think my hips are going to ache lol
  • 1 0
 Maybe initially but staying for 3+ minutes in poses like Pigeon and Reclining Butterfly should start to open them up. You might find these hip openers easier if you have stretched your hamstrings first. You can do Reclining Hand To Toe with a belt, strap or towel around the arch of your foot for a safe hamstring stretch that doesn't put pressure on your lower back:
  • 2 2
 *yoga to half your recovery time
  • 1 1
  • 2 3
 I just forgot for a few minutes, that I have a bike. Thanks Abi......
  • 2 0
 Are you sure its not a walker that you have.
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