Yoga for Cyclists

Yoga for Cyclists
Cyclists are passionate about their sport, and for good reason. There’s little that compares to spending time flying down the street or trail, enjoying the sensation of speed and feel of the pedals beneath one’s feet. Riding a bike improves fitness, saves money and gas, and benefits the environment. However, extensive cycling by itself can lead to muscle imbalances, loss of flexibility, and decreased upper body strength – all of which can limit your ability to ride. Here’s how yoga can help.

We all know that regular asana practice improves one’s flexibility. This is great news for cyclists, who tend to have unbalanced leg muscles (tight quadriceps and weaker hamstrings.) Specific yoga poses that can help with this include Natarajasana, or Dancer’s Pose, which can be thought of as an extended version of the “runner’s stretch,” and of course Virasana, or Hero’s Pose, in any of its iterations. Keep in mind that both of these poses work much better when the body is warmed up first, preferably with a well-balanced sequence that includes a variety of lateral poses, which work the sides of the body and the separate limbs.

In order to ride with power, cyclists rely on core support; unfortunately, cycling by itself doesn’t do much to work the muscles in the torso. Again, cross-training with yoga will give this area the workout it needs. Plank or Kumbhakasana, and Side Plank, or Vasisthasana, poses are the go-to for the core, as is a series of Sun Salutations, which work almost every muscle in the body. A good yoga teacher will encourage students to use the core muscles for an entire asana practice in order for the torso to help support other parts of the body – this is great advice for cyclists in general, and this kind of yoga practice thus has transfer benefits.

When cycling, people use their lower legs to move the machine and their torsos to keep balanced. The upper body doesn’t get much of a workout, but can become sore because of the length of time spent in the cyclist’s stance. Again, a regular Surya Namaskar practice can help with this, as can Bitilasanas-Marjaryasana, Ardha Pincha Mayurarasana,, and Garudasana or Cat-Cow, Dolphin, and Eagle Poses respectively. Eagle arms combined with neck stretches can be used as part of a warm-up or cool-down before and after a ride if there’s isn’t time and place for a short asana sequence.

Finally, yogic breathing techniques are wonderful for cyclists. Equal Breathing, or Sama Vritti in particular helps the lungs to fully exhale carbon dioxide and thus brings more oxygen into the body. As this technique combats anxiety, it can help regulate emotions during long, difficult rides.
Cross-training is always a good idea, and yoga is an excellent addition to training for all aerobic sports, including cycling. Find a yoga class and learn how to practice yoga, and then consider either developing a routine to be practiced separately or making the class a regular part of a weekly exercise program. It will make a difference!

You Should Also Read:
Vasisthasana, or Side Plank
A Yoga Sequence for Abs
Equal Breathing, or Sama Vritti

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