Lower Body Strength and Flexibility - Yoga With Abi

Nov 27, 2020
by Abi Carver  
Awkward Pose

Are you unable to ride because of a broken hand, fractured wrist or dislocated collarbone? Are you watching your muscles atrophy and your body tighten up? What if there was a way to maintain your core and lower body strength and maybe even improve your overall flexibility, while you’re healing from injury and waiting to get back on the bike?

In this article, I’ll show you a simple but comprehensive yoga routine that you can practice anytime—you don’t even need a mat—so that when you’re fully recovered and ready to ride again, you’ll be hitting the ground running!

I apologise that it has been such a long time since I last wrote—it’s been a busy year. But the good news is that I have tonnes of new material and lots more mtb-specific expertise to share with you. So if you’re open to incorporating yoga into your training, let me know how I can help to keep you pain-free and riding more competitively than ever.

HOW THIS YOGA SEQUENCE WORKS

As I mentioned, you don’t even need a mat for this one. You can do it every day if you feel like it and it really doesn’t matter at what time. It should take around 10-15 mins, depending on how long you spend in each of the poses. Drop me a message if you need any help with alignment/modifications.

There are a couple of different types of yoga poses that can keep you strong and flexible without putting any weight through your upper body. We can build strength in the legs, glutes and core in standing postures and work on flexibility in the lower back and hips in reclining poses.

1. Chair Pose

Chair Pose

To keep your legs strong. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, sweep your arms up by your ears or cross them over your chest and sit back in Chair pose. Check that you can still see your toes and draw your abs in to protect your lower back. Seal your lips and hold the pose for 3-5 slow diaphragmatic breaths. Repeat this pose 2-3 times—it should burn! And then come back up to standing.

2. Awkward Pose

Awkward Pose

To challenge your balance. In Awkward pose, we take things up a notch. Bring your arms up in front of you at shoulder height or cross your hands over your chest, come up onto your tiptoes and lower your hips until your thighs are as close to parallel with the mat as you can handle. Hold for 3-5 slow breaths, in and out through your nose. Repeat 2-3 times if your quads can take it. And then come back up to standing.

3. High Lunge

High Lunge

To actively stretch your hip flexors and hamstrings. Our final strength pose is High Lunge. The key here is to come up onto the ball of your back foot, stack your front knee on top of your ankle and draw your lower abs in. You can bring your arms up by your ears or cross your hands over your chest. Hold for 3-5 slow breaths on each side, bringing your front thigh as close to parallel with the mat as possible. Repeat 2-3 times on each side. And then come down onto the ground.

5. Screaming Toe

Screaming Toe

To show your feet some love. This pose can be excruciating but unless you’re also nursing a couple of broken toes, it’s very good for you. Tuck your toes under and sit back on your heels in Screaming Toe pose to stretch the soles of your feet. Try to line up your ears, shoulders and hips and hold for at least 3-5 breaths. And then come onto your hands and knees.

4. Low Lunge

Low Lunge

To release tension in the hip flexors. Next, we’ll come into Low Lunge, to stretch the hip flexors. Again, check that your front knee does not come forward over your ankle and draw your lower abs in to protect your lower back. You can put a cushion under you back knee for support. Hold for 5-10 breaths on each side. The goal of this pose is to release tension in your hip flexors, so instead of forcing the stretch, try your best to relax into the pose. And then come to seated.

6. Boat

Boat

To strengthen your core. Our next pose is Boat—a core and lower back strengthener. Lift your feet up to eyeline, straighten your arms out in front of you or cross them over your chest and balance on your sitting bones, trying not to roll back onto your sacrum. The key with this pose is to keep your back straight—so lift your chest and draw your shoulder blades towards each other. 
Hold for 3-5 breaths. You can also lift and lower between High and Low Boat 5-10 times to increase the intensity. And finally…lie down on your back.

7. Reclining Butterfly

Reclining Butterfly

To stretch your groin and adductors. Let’s come into Reclining Butterfly to release tension from the insides of your thighs. Bring your feet together and let your knees fall open in the shape of a diamond. You can put a pillow under your knees for support. Hold for up to 10 breaths, relaxing as deeply as you can into the pose.

8. Reclining Spinal Twist

Reclining Spinal Twist

To release tension at your lower back. We’ll finish in Reclining Spinal Twist, to release tension at your lower back and stretch your abs, obliques, glutes and the outsides of your hips. Relax into the pose for up to 10 breaths on each side.

Final Resting Pose

Final Resting Pose

Rest for a few minutes. If you have time, spend a couple of minutes in Final Resting Pose to allow the benefits of the poses to sink in. Close your eyes and follow the gentle rising and falling of your breath at your belly and your chest.

Repeat this strength and flexibility sequence 3-5 times a week, to support your recovery and lose as little ground as possible while you're waiting to get back on the bike.

I have recently launched a new site www.yoga15.com, where you can find in-depth tutorials for these poses and all your favourite factory yoga videos! I have also put together brand new COURSES to cover different aspects of your training, so you can take a look at those too if you’re interested.


113 Comments

  • 207 4
 I can do the last one..
  • 5 1
 I can do all, but not as graciously Smile ...
  • 5 0
 Time to remove the training wheels, Beavis.
  • 9 3
 Came here for the hidden comments.
  • 2 1
 one of my favorites, especially after a few beers
  • 1 0
 LOL Big Grin
  • 117 6
 Less E-bike, more Yoga.
  • 15 3
 This guy gets it.
  • 5 1
 @3riders: Preach brother!
  • 111 1
 I do E-yoga. Watch the video but dont do the actual actions.
  • 4 0
 @pink505: Me too. I feel better right away, sometimes....but seriously, Abi is showing us some seriously helpful stuff here. I'm gonna try one or two myself, as soon as I can find my yoga mat.
  • 18 7
 Being over 50 now, I’m looking at the ebike as a way to regulate my output.
There’s opinion out there that says making “red-line” efforts when you’re older as being a bad idea. If you can limit your efforts to 70 - 80% of your maximum, you’ll just physically hold together longer, staying fit from the movements, rather than just hanging the idea of “fitness” on sheer effort.
Yoga for me is actually an extension of this, as it isn’t about all out effort, but instead a controlled effort, using good technique and trying to stay in a “zone”, rather than just burying myself in full on discomfort as a way to “fitness”.
  • 1 1
 @RobbyRideGuide: I am pro E-yoga and pro E-bike. I also find doing E-yoga reduces the stress on my joints and bad back, doesn't geenrate the same greenhouse gases from me farting or damage my yoga matt like real yoga.

Some of the newer superlight ebike options are starting to catch my eye, just need the pricing to come down otherwise my wife will be the one having a heart attack when the bill comes in.
  • 2 0
 @RayDolor: Dust it off!
  • 2 0
 @RobbyRideGuide: Controlled effort is a great way to put it.
  • 2 2
 Don't do e-bikes but I do eat yogurt. Does that count?
  • 54 1
 Noice, abi's back! One of the most helpful series on here Smile
  • 41 0
 Thank you! Got lots of great new stuff for you guys.
  • 1 0
 Is that back or back ??
  • 2 0
 I figured she got tired of the comment section and was done with us.
  • 7 0
 @TheR: Not at all! I just got side-tracked. This is actually my favourite site to write for.
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: Now that is cool to hear! I guess its as most of us are ageing but unlike golfers, act like we are 12... so we are still fun! Smile
  • 1 0
 @cunning-linguist: could be that!
  • 21 0
 She's back! I purchased her Yoga for Mountain Bikers series on Vimeo a few years back. It's been very helpful to me.
  • 11 0
 Thank you! I'm so happy to hear that the vids have helped.
  • 17 1
 i miss you Abi !!
  • 14 0
 I'm back now!
  • 12 1
 Why was she gone for so long?
Did she accidentally unlock the hidden comments one day?
  • 8 1
 I just tried Awkward Pose. Guess how it felt.
  • 7 0
 Clue's in the title!
  • 4 0
 @yoga15app: Smile Jokes aside, I still have that "old" 15 min. post-ride routine in YT favs and try to do it after most rides, so thanks for that.
  • 4 0
 @bananowy: Oh! That's awesome. Hopefully I can show you some new stretches over the next few months.
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: congratulations! If I’m right about your clue ????
  • 4 0
 Looks like a Michael Jackson dance move.
  • 3 0
 I've been doing Abi's yoga stuff with the Sufferfest app, especially critical now with working from home. It's really easy to jump into a 15 minute Yoga routine between zoom meetings just to keep loose with all the sitting. Highly recommend.
  • 1 0
 Oh thanks! How are you finding the new routines on the app?
  • 3 0
 Abi is baaaack! I have one past article on my favourites: m.pinkbike.com/news/a-quick-guide-to-the-most-effective-poses-for-mountain-bikers-monthly-yoga-with-abi-2017.html
really help me to staying on my bike
  • 3 0
 Thanks! Hopefully, you'll find the new stuff useful too.
  • 3 0
 I started a few years back with some of your previous exercises, but now that I learnt about a herniated disc (L4-L5) I wonder if you have some specific exercises or recommendations on that.
  • 7 0
 Yes. Please can you drop me an email: abi@yoga15.com
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: thank you! Doing it right now.
  • 2 0
 The low lunge has been a huge help to me. My knees used to swell up and get super painful behind the kneecaps after riding (or any other quad intensive exercise). Stretching my hip flexors and quads with the low lunge and couch stretch (YouTube it) takes the tension off my patellar tendons and almost immediately alleviates the pain and swelling. Moving my cleats all the way back toward my heels also made a
world of difference.
  • 2 0
 I've started to stretch my hip flexors too and my knee pain has pretty much gone!
  • 2 0
 @pink505: Cheers for the tips, I just started having the same knee issues I will give your recommendation a look...
  • 1 0
 That's great. I think you might find these poses good for you: yoga15.com/article/it-band-and-tfl-stretches-for-tight-athletes
  • 1 0
 @EckNZ: That's great. It might also be worth looking into IT band and TFL tightness too.
  • 1 0
 @Assistedbygravity: This article should help you too. And there's some others on the site: yoga15.com/tag/yoga-anatomy
  • 2 1
 These are wonderful and insightful articles. The only oddity that jumped out to me ( likely because I am in a very similar situation identified in the opening paragraph ) was the idea that someone with a upper body injury ( that is Canada hockey talk for shoulder tears, dislocations/separations, AC joint gaps, collarbone breaks/dislocations, fractures, bicep, tendon tears, etc ) you can't extend your arms like that. At least not for several weeks to several months. However, you can still use the knowledge to keep your core/legs/body strong and flexible, as you work towards full motion again.
  • 1 0
 For each of the poses, in the description, I offer a modification for the arms. It’s going to depend a lot on the injury and distance through recovery, as you say.
  • 1 0
 I'm pro ebike and regularly feel happy when I see someone out on one as it makes me think its great that someone who is injured/injury can still get out. Without ebikes they couldn't.

When I'm older I'm definitely buying one
  • 1 0
 Hello, @yoga15app Abi!
Thanks for the great content, my wife loves it! And it seems that my friend is having a crush on you Big Grin

I wonder if there are any researches, studies, or event opinions on how yoga will help to protect you against traumas like you can get riding extreme disciplines in mountain biking?
My vision of this is: the force and speed of impact on your body during a fall are so huge(broken bones, torn big ligaments - ACL and etc.) that yoga trained body/muscles can't (in my opinion, I may be wrong) provide needed 'protection'.
I think that exercises that rehab doctors make you do during your last stage of rehab plus sports-related training in the gym(let's say 'functional training' focused on loads that your sport do to your body, common injures in your sport that you want to prevent) can do better?
Where I am wrong?
I am not trying to be rude or say that yoga is useless - it is definitely not. I want to get to know your vision on that question, Abi.

Thank you!
  • 3 0
 If you play rugby or American football, yoga is not going to protect you against impact injuries, in the same way that it won't protect you if you have a traumatic mtb crash. You need a lot of muscle for that. Yoga can improve the stability in your deep core and joint stabilisers to improve your body control, it can improve your flexibility so that you can put your body safely into greater ranges of motion, it can help you to recover after an injury, and as I discuss in this article, it can keep you strong and flexible while you are recovering from injury. I hope that answers your question!
  • 1 0
 @yoga15app: yes, thank you!
  • 4 1
 I'm as flexible as a dry twig and will snap if I push some of those yoga poses.
  • 2 0
 Great timing, Im a feew weeks into an ACJ injury so upper body workouts are out, this week I've started to feel really tight and achey. I'll get right to this!
  • 2 0
 Let me know how you find it. I actually have a bunch of videos on my site that you can do without putting weight through your upper body.
  • 2 0
 Brilliant! I start most days with 'Not so creaky mornings'. I feel a bit less like a rusty church gate now. Will be good to try out some new moves.
  • 2 0
 Let me know what you need!
  • 2 0
 Abi, I've been surfing a lot more lately and I've been religiously doing your 15 min yoga for surfers multiple times a week for the past few months and it's a lifesaver!
  • 1 0
 That's amazing! Thank you. I actually have a surfer course on the site now that you can try with the 30-day free trial: yoga15.com/courses/yoga-for-surfers
  • 2 0
 What great timing! My wife and I have several of your videos we use often. But I broke my collarbone a couple weeks ago and have been getting very stiff. Thanks Abi
  • 1 0
 Oh! I’m sorry. But at least the timing is good! Let me know how you get on.
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: I can’t hold my arms up, But it seems to work just fine with my arms across my chest. It’s definitely helpful to have some thing I can still do!
  • 1 0
 @Racher245: Great. Hopefully your recovery will be speedy.
  • 2 0
 Great to see you back!! Took up yoga last year based on your flexercises , will put em to good use again
  • 1 0
 Thanks! Let me know if you ever have any questions.
  • 2 0
 Yoga with abi was my first class. Since then i've been practicing at least 3 times a week, it helps A LOT! Thank you!
  • 1 0
 That's incredible! It's good stuff...
  • 2 0
 Good to have this series back! Maybe I was gone for too long? Either way, thanks & please post more routines!
  • 3 0
 Great work like usual Abi!
  • 2 0
 Thank you Dee!
  • 2 0
 One of my fav PB contributors. I've passed along her tight back series to countless folks.
  • 1 0
 Thank you! Poses like Reclining Spinal Twist (above) are lifesavers.
  • 2 0
 Thank you, really enjoy this sections, since COVID19 came and no gym to go!
Can we have videos?
  • 1 0
 Sure. Anything specific you want to focus on?
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: hi! Thanks for the reply, since it was unexpected. I've looked at the website, and really like it, and will give the 30day trial a go and check if I can keep up.

My focus is basically in Neck region, and general flexibility (as some say... age can be seen by the lack of flexibilty)
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: thanks and all the best!
  • 1 0
 @TDMAN: Great! Drop me an email and I'll point you in the right direction for some videos that will ease your neck tightness.
  • 2 0
 Fine....I'll start doing some yoga at home. Never done it before but it looks very beneficial
  • 2 0
 That’s the spirit! Let me know how I can help.
  • 2 0
 I’ve found the yoga series of the SUF app to be really beneficial. Thanks.
  • 1 0
 Great! Let me know if you have any questions.
  • 3 0
 Thank god.
  • 2 0
 Welcome back Abi..your routines changed my life..
  • 1 0
 ☺️
  • 2 0
 Totally agree! I have been a subscriber to the sufferfest for a number of years now and the yoga with Abi certainly does change your life. The one hour lower back routine sorts me out everytime! Thanks Abi!
  • 1 0
 @JezzaE: Thanks!! That’s so good to hear. Yoga is powerful stuff.
  • 3 0
 Thank you Abi
  • 3 0
 No problem!
  • 2 0
 @yoga15app: Yes, Abi, you are doing some seriously beneficial work here. You should go far.
Now can you teach us how to NOT crash and hurt ourselves?
  • 1 0
 @RayDolor: Thank you. I thought that was all part of the fun!
  • 2 0
 Low lunge has saved my hip flexors!
  • 2 0
 It's hard to beat!
  • 1 0
 My ultimate goal for yoga. Being flexible enough to fit in a small carry-on.
  • 1 0
 Great timing! Just broke my hand 2 weeks ago and startet thinking about some exercises I can do at home. Thanks a lot Abi.
  • 1 0
 Oh no! I'm so sorry. See how you get on with these.
  • 1 0
 Is any pain to bad to help? Asking for my back, arms, shoulders, sides, pelvis and hips.
  • 1 0
 Oh. Try the ones above where I'm wearing a toothpaste top—they should help.
  • 1 0
 @yoga15app: cheers!
  • 2 0
 Best thing you can do in the morning to get yourself ready for the day!!!
  • 1 0
 Can't beat it!
  • 2 1
 Abi where have you beeeeen?!
  • 1 0
 Back now!
  • 1 0
 "Akward Pose" is just my life. Welcome to my life.
  • 1 2
 That concrete floor looks cold...
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