With the Tour de France in full swing this month, we are focusing on the many benefits that yoga can bring to cyclists. From added flexibility and strength to the cardiovascular and respiratory benefits, there are many reasons why cyclists experience increases in their performance and stamina when they incorporate yoga before and after they set out on a ride.
Before, After, or Both?
Ideally, cyclists should complete a targeted sequence before and after they ride, but if time is short you can use these tips to help you decide when it will help you the most!
Benefits of Yoga Before Cycling:
- Warms up your muscular system to help you perform better
- Helps you manage respiration and focus your mind as you work through your next workout/race
- Increases bloodflow to your legs
Benefits of Yoga After Cycling:
- Loosens up the tightening that often occurs while riding – especially through the hips and abdominal wall
- Breaks up lactic acid buildup in your muscles
- Reduces soreness after an intense ride
- Helps settle your adrenal system after vigorous rides
Perfect Yoga Poses for Cyclists
Cycling for extended periods can do a number on the backside of your torso (and, well, your backside!) while also constricting your abdominal wall. Additionally, it tightens your hips and often rounds your shoulders into a shrugged position. In short, it’s an unnatural position that can create imbalance and increase your potential for injury.
These yoga poses focus on undoing that imbalance by opening your hips and heart center. Get down on your Practice Base and try them out!
Camel Pose is the ideal counterbalance to the hunched position that cyclists maintain for long periods of time. It opens up the front lines of your hips and your heart while also opening your throat chakra and providing an opportunity for the muscles of your jaw to release.
Beginner’s tip: Initially Camel Pose can be a bit awkward to maintain. A great variation is Bridge Pose, which also strengthens your back while opening up your torso.
Pigeon pose is one of the best yoga poses for cyclists because it stretches a majority of the muscles of the hips, all of which can become very tight while riding.
Beginner’s tip: Initially Pigeon Pose can be very intense through your hips and/or knees. A great variation is Supine Pigeon, which opens your hips without the full force of your body weight pushing on them.
Although it may appear visually similar to the hunched over position that is common while cycling, Downward dog decompresses the area of your low lumbar that is typically strained.
Beginner’s tip: Initially Downward Dog can be taxing through your shoulders and/or upper arms. A great variation is alternating through Cat and Cow Pose while in Table Top, this allows for decompression without excessive upper body exertion.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
This relaxing pose allows you to lay back while opening up and stretching your groin and hips. It is known as a restorative pose that promotes flexibility while calming your mind before or after a long ride.
Beginner’s tip: Take hip openers one breath at a time!