YoTip: Park Bench Yoga for Cyclists by Lynette Chiang

Words and movie by Lynette Chiang. Photos by Keith Leung

Do cyclists need yoga? Take a look at the above video to see what riding a bicycle (very fast, lots of miles) can do without the benefits of a regular yoga practice …

Recently I was asked to give a talk at the New York Bike Expo on The Handsomest Man in Cuba, my travel memoir about riding across Cuba on a folding bicycle. While preparing my talk I hit on another idea — why not teach the 30,000 riders who are going to swing by my author table a “Park Bench Yoga for Cyclists” class? That is, a series of moves you can do at rest stops while on bike rides — particularly rides involving a lot of time in the saddle …

I actually started out teaching a Yoga for Runners and Cyclists class back in 2011 for YoGanesh, and subsequently collaborated on a Yoga/Pilates for Cyclists series for the NewYork Cycle Club.

Yoga for Runners and Cyclists flyerSo why “Park Bench?” I hear you ask … not many cyclists want to be seen downdogging at the roadside, not to mention putting those expensive fingerless gloves on questionable ground. Cyclists will often stop near a park bench or seat that provides some relief from that skinny thing with a long nose we call a saddle. So, with a nice blurb on the Bike Expo New York site, I popped on my YoGanesh t-shirt, rocked along to the Expo and waited for crowds of would-be cycling yogis to show …

parkbenchyogawriteup

Well, there were a lot of onlookers peering from the sidelines, but a few brave yogis – all in jeans!  Here are a few shots, taken by a friend who seemed content to stay in chair pose – on his chair. You can read about another useful pose for cyclists not covered here – variations on Pigeon – that can also be done in a chair. So if you’re an avid cyclist, think about doing some of these moves next time you stop for a break – people might look at you strangely, but in days, months and years down the track …  you’ll be so glad you did!

At traffic lights, counter that hunched over position by putting arms overhead and softening the shoulder blades.

At traffic lights, counter that hunched over position by putting arms overhead and softening the shoulder blades.

Here, teaching Ujjayi or Darth Vader Breath. Ok, it's also called Ocean Breath.

Here, teaching Ujjayi or Darth Vader Breath. Ok, it’s also called Ocean Breath. Breathe out as if fogging up a bathroom mirror, then do it with lips closed – making the same throaty Darth Vaderish sound. Helps bring breath front, center and deep!

You can do most yoga moves with the aid of a chair or .. park bench!

You can do most yoga moves with the aid of a chair or .. park bench!

Cyclists need twists! Use the back of your hand to open the upper shoulder.

Cyclists need twists! Use the back of your hand to open the upper shoulder.

Twists like this help create flexibility for when you quickly need to look behind you on the bike - which you do often! Teaching "Park Bench Yoga for Cyclists," Bike Expo New York, 2013.

Twists like this help create flexibility for when you quickly need to look behind you on the bike – which you do often!

Getting reading for Park Bench Lizard Pose - the chair is the rock he's basking on!

Getting reading for Park Bench Lizard Pose – the chair is the rock he’s basking on!

This is called, taking a bind.

This is called, taking a bind.

Parsvottanasana - a standard yoga hamstring stretch with arms folded behind to create a shoulder opener as well. You can place your hands - or helmeted head - on the park bench!

Parsvottanasana – a standard yoga hamstring stretch with arms folded behind to create a shoulder opener as well. You can place your hands – or helmeted head – on the park bench!

This gentleman was a real trooper - he did ALL the moves and said "I feel a whole lot looser." Maybe a yoga convert?

This gentleman was a real trooper – he did ALL the moves and said “I feel a whole lot looser.” Maybe a yoga convert?

One of those photos that make me realize just how short I am ...

One of those photos that make me realize just how short I am …

Going for an easy aeroplane ...

Going for an easy aeroplane …

Lynette Chiang is a certified Vinyasa yoga teacher at YoGanesh

VIDEO: Lynette’s video of the 5 Boro Bike Tour from a Marshall’s POV | Photos

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