If you are a keen competitive cyclist, commuter rider or cycle just for exploration and pleasure, yoga can enhance your performance and enjoyment. I enjoy the cardio workout of my daily cycle commute to work and it is a great way to start my day.  There is also no doubt that cycling can have some negative effects on the body which I have experienced. I have found yoga for cyclists improves my cycling performance and lessens the negative impact on my body.

Yoga postures focus on controlled breathing, core strength, flexibility and mobility. Deep fluid breathing allows you to access more power while cycling. Improved core strength, flexibility and mobility ensure that your body is operating at its most optimal and comfortable while you are cycling.

Fundamentally yoga is about connecting movement to breath. Getting your body into the many postures in a yoga sequence is only half of the job. If you want a full yoga experience and reap its benefits in your cycling or other sporting activities, you need to link postures to your breathing. I have also found breathing the most difficult aspect of yoga to acquire. The beauty of yoga for cyclists is that it can benefit so many aspects of your cycling experience.

When should you do Yoga for cyclists?

We all know if you want to maintain a good level of physical fitness you need to be active. Movement is the best way to stay active as our bodies are designed to move in many ways. Issues can arise when you repeat the same movements and your bodies get used to doing those same movements.

The movements you do on your bike provides excellent exercise ensuring quality of life both now and as you age. Unfortunately the movements are very repetitive which can lead to imbalances, stress and strain on your body over time. To combat this you need to take part in other physical activities alongside your cycling. This will ensure that the imbalances, stresses and strains can be addressed and don’t cause any long term problems. 

Preventative Yoga for cyclists

Cycling requires significant leg strength so cyclists tend to develop large and powerful quads and glutes. This can be at the expense of other parts of the body. Cyclists also spend most of their time bent forward over the handlebars, which leads to tight hip flexors. Other neglected areas are the abdominal muscles and lower back.

If you don’t work on those neglected and tight areas they become weaker and lead to injury. You will also be putting extra pressure on your overworked quad and glutes. The imbalances can be addressed through preforming yoga for cyclists poses regularly.

Preventative Yoga for cyclists Poses

Performing a 15 - 20 minute sequence 2 or 3 times a week will help any cyclist and ensure that their cycling is not interrupted because of injury, A preventative yoga for cyclists sequence should include backwards and side bending movements. There should also be poses that build strength in your core and work on tightness and tension in the glutes and quads. 

Additionally full body poses will help address imbalances and use more of your neglected areas of your body. Finally remember to connect all the postures with your breathing. Through deep, fluid breathing, you can take control of your heart rate and access more power on the bike.

Preventative Yoga for cyclist Workout

This is a great sequence as there is a lot of focus on backbending to reverse the cycling posture. It includes both standing and seated forward bends that decompress your spine and targets tight hamstrings. The downward dog poses stretch out your upper back, shoulders and hamstrings. It includes some quite challenging poses like dolphin plank and locust. These are great for strengthening your core, arms, legs, back and shoulders

Alignment and Posture

If you spend a lot of time on your bike you will need to pay particular attention to your alignment and posture. Body positioning on your bike not only impacts your riding efficiency but also your likelihood of avoiding injury. Injuries occur if you don’t have a comfortable fit with your bike. Injuries that can occur from poor alignment and posture are lower back pain and neck strain.

People who know me may remember all those yoga exercises I do. No one understood why I spent so much time putting myself in those strange positions. Well , it’s to improve my form on the bike. I sit on the bike with a much flatter back now than I used to three or four years ago

- Cadel evans

Poor posture can lead to chronic lower back problems that will affect your daily activities, not just your cycling in the long term. Your tight muscles will pull on bones and lead to your body becoming unaligned. Finally poor alignment and posture will negatively impact your power output. You are unable to get the most out of your glutes. Also tightness in your lower back results in overreaching with your arms. Consequently you put too much weight in your hands and cause tightness across your upper back and neck.

Yoga for cyclists Alignment and Posture Poses

Practicing yoga for cyclists poses that focus on posture and alignment will counteract your poor positioning tendencies when your cycle. They will increase your body awareness and core strength which will improve your alignment and posture.

Mountain

This is a foundational yoga pose and used to prepare for lots of other poses. It improves your posture and body awareness, strengthens your legs and establishes good alignment. Doing this pose correctly ensures your alignment on many other postures is also correct.

How to: Start with your feet hip width apart and a microbend in your knees, ground your feet into the mat, place your hips in a neutral position, and tuck your tailbone under just slightly.
Slide your shoulder blades down your back and reach the crown of your head toward the sky.

Cobra

This is a beginners backbend pose that lengthens your spine and stretches your abs. It also helps to strengthen your back and improves your posture.

How to: Begin by lying on your stomach. Place your hands palms down on the ground beneath your shoulders. Lift your chest up off the ground by straightening your arms. Gaze upwards and keep your abdominals engaged.

Plank

The ultimate core strength builder and core strength is a huge part of good alignment and posture. Plank strengthens your back, chest, core and shoulders. This helps to keep your shoulders back and your lower back in a neutral position which are two key elements of maintaining good posture.

How to: Begin at the top of a pushup. Push your palms and toes firmly into the ground. Engage your core, arms and legs. Extend the back of your neck and keep your back straight. Aim to hold position for one minute.

Pigeon

Pigeon pose is a powerful stretch for releasing the glutes and the hip flexors. It works as a hip opener and forward bend, stretching your thighs, groin, back, piriformis, and psoas.

How to: Begin in a tabletop position. Bring your right leg forward and sink down so the outer edge is resting on the floor. Extend your left leg behind you, keeping your hips angling toward the floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then step your right foot back under you and repeat on the left leg.

Standing Forward Fold

Lengthening your spine can do wonders for your posture. When you do a standing forward fold the stretching releases tension in your glutes, hamstrings and spine. Avoid rounding your upper back and rolling your shoulders forward.

How to: Begin with your feet hip width apart, bend your knees slightly and then fold forward from your hips. Rest your hands on the floor, or if you can’t reach the floor, place a block in front of you and rest hands on it. Or you can grab your opposite elbows.

Is Cycling Bad for your Flexibility?

When I started yoga and my teachers noticed my inflexibility they would ask what other training or sporting activities. Mentioning cycling triggered looks and words of concern about how cycling was affecting my flexibility. The nature of cycling results in your body staying in one position for extended periods of time. Also when you are on your bike you are only moving your joints in a straight line. 

Yoga for Cyclists_flexibility

This means you are neglecting other planes of motion like lateral or rotational. If you don’t move your joints in those neglected planes your flexibility will decrease. So it is important to help your body out so you don’t lose flexibility or mobility. Regularly stretching before and after you go for a ride is the key to maintaining good flexibility.

Yoga for cyclist Pre-Ride Warmup

There are many benefits of stretching before you get on your bike. Stretching before you go for a ride will prime and warm up your muscles for movement. The key muscles are your calves, glutes, hamstrings, hip flexors and quads. Correct stretching ensures you are in an aerodynamic and effective pedalling position all of the time. Additionally the right stretches will also improve your performance and protect you from injury

For the most effective pre ride stretch, make sure you have warmed up. Cold muscle stretching can do more damage than good and can produce small tears in the muscles. So go for a leisurely ride for a few minutes before you start your stretching routine. Your pre ride stretch should include dynamic as well as static stretches. You want to take your joints through similar movements you will be using when cycling.

Post Ride Stretching

This is the time when you should dedicate the most amount of time to your stretching. The moment your ride ends is when your recovery should start. Post ride your muscles are fully warmed up and at their most pliable.

Post ride stretches will help you maintain your range of motion through the hips. The forward leaning position you maintain while cycling can cause tight hips flexors. If you experience lower back pain of your back, your tight hip flexors will contribute to the pain. Regularly stretching your hip flexor muscles after cycling will assist in reducing the shortening of them.

Your quads are the muscles that do the most work when you are cycling. They are constantly engaged when you cycle. You use them to push downwards on the pedals and straighten your leg to move forward. You don’t want tight quads as this will reduce the amount of power and forward momentum you can produce. 

Your hamstrings are also crucial in your cycling motion and are used as you bend your knee back after pushing down on the pedal. Tight hamstrings can keep you from your full range of motion on the bike

Yoga for Cyclist Post Ride Stretching

The following post ride yoga for cyclists poses focus on stretching the hamstrings, hip flexors, quads, lower back and upper body. They will not only address any muscle stiffness from cycling but also help to build strength in some of your supporting muscles.

Downward Facing Dog

This is one of most recognised yoga poses and the staple of many sequences. The pose helps to improve your body posture as well as your body balance. It also strengthens your arms, shoulders, feet, calves and hamstring muscles.

How to: Begin in tabletop position with your wrists inline with your shoulders. Tuck your toes, straighten your knees and lift your hips while engaging your core. Keep your head between your arms. Press down through the heels and pedal your feet back and forth if you feel tight after your ride.

Bridge

This will get your glutes and hamstrings firing, while also engaging your core and warming up your lower back. It offers a nice stretch for the upper and front body.

How to: Begin by lying face-up on the floor, knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Keeping your heels on the floor, raise your hips until they are in a straight line with your shoulders and knees. Hold hips parallel to the ground for a two-second count, then lower.

Cobra

A backbend that strengthens the back muscles as well as opening the abs, chest, and shoulders which tend to close during cycling. It is a pose that has lots of range, where you can increase the depth depending on how you are feeling.

How to: Begin by lying on your stomach. Place your hands palms down on the ground beneath your shoulders. Lift your chest up off the ground by straightening your arms. Gaze upwards and keep your abdominals engaged

Triangle

When you have spent a lot of time hunched over your handlebars, your body needs some lateral movement. Triangle pose provides a deep stretch of the groin, hips, and hamstrings. It also encompasses the opening of shoulders and chest. Additionally, it is an excellent pose if you want to strengthen the muscles in hips, thighs, and back.

How to: Begin by standing tall and then step your feet wide apart. Turn your right toes 90 degrees to the right. Keep your arms straight. Bend through your hips, over your foot with your toes pointing out. Rest your lower hand on your shin or ankle and stretch your upper arm up to the sky. Hold pose for 3 to 5 breaths before repeating on the other side.

Lizard Lunge

This is a pose that really opens your hips! It is a great stretch for the hip flexors, hamstrings and quads. Doing Lizard regularly will improve the mobility of your hips and strengthen muscles in your legs.

How to: Begin on all fours in Downward Dog position. Step your right foot forward to the outside edge of your right hand, coming into a lunge position. Lower your left knee to the ground and press into your hips, keeping your arms and back straight. From here depending on your flexible you have the option to lower onto your forearms

Pigeon

A powerful stretch for releasing the glutes and the hip flexors. It works as a hip opener and forward bend, stretching your thighs, groin, back, piriformis, and psoas. This is my number one stretch especially after a long ride.

How to: Begin in a tabletop position. Bring your right leg forward and sink down so the outer edge is resting on the floor. Extend your left leg behind you, keeping your hips angling toward the floor. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds, then step your right foot back under you and repeat on the left leg.

Camel

A pose that stretches the front of the body, particularly the abdomen, chest, hip flexors and quads. This is a backbend that improves spinal mobility and overall posture.

How to: Start on your knees with your legs and feet hip width distance. Place your hands behind you as if they were in the back pocket of your jeans. Engage your core and press your hips and thighs forward. Lift your chest and reach back touching your heels with your hands.

Yoga for Cyclists Improves Breathing

Yoga can help you improve your breathing when you are on your bike. Yogic breathing is about breathing deeply using your diaphragm. This will assist you in pushing as much air in and out of your lungs as possible. Yoga for cyclists can help you breathe more deeply and steadily and teach you how to control your breathing. 

Better breathing allows for quicker and more controlled recovery from any high intensity element you encounter when riding such as hill climbs, sprints or accelerations.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}