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Yesterday I participated in the New York Century Bike Tour for the 5th year. My fiance Mark and our friend Joan joined me for the first time this year. It was a beautiful day;  perfect weather, great company, challenges, fun, and a big sense of accomplishment. Biking up monster hills while facing a strong wind, peddling with all your strength but barely moving felt like a metaphor. The soreness and utter exhaustion after nearly 60 miles and over 9 hours of biking, gave me a feeling that I wish I had at the end of every day–I’ve done everything I could do, I’ve accomplished something impressive, and I’ll sleep soundly.

Beyond the feelings of achievement, the sense of community and exploration however, came the very practical concerns: SORE muscles. I benefit from yoga everyday, but some days, like yesterday, I NEED yoga. I did a few down dogs and pigeons at some of the rest stops, and last night I led Mark in some more thigh, hamstring, and groin stretches (Uttanasana, Pigeon, reclined pigeon, baddha konasana, prasarita padottanasana, and a few more like those).

After yesterday though, and seeing people doing a few stretches at each stop, I’m really interested in putting together sequences for cyclists (before, at rest stops, and after a big ride, as well as in general for the areas that need work). I think it would make a great addition to bike tours. Stay tuned for that from me in the future!

In the meantime, here is some ideas from others on the topic:

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana, or One-Legged King Pigeon Pose or simply “pigeon” in English, has long been one of my favorite poses. Aside from how fun it is to say in sanskirt (try it), I’ve always liked the release I feel in folding over my front leg. For people with tight hips and psoas, this pose isn’t as enjoyable and the release may not quite be as full (or there at all).

(photos via Yoga Journal)

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana is the first in a series of increasingly difficult pigeon poses, one of which involves bending the back  leg and holding onto that foot.  A simliar pose, Mermaid, opens the quads and shoulders even more. Here’s a great explaination of how to work up to Mermaid using Eka Pada Rajakapotasana.