Read time – 4 minutes
Can the ancient traditions of yoga really benefit your cycling? We ask Claire Daniel, Exodus product manager and accomplished teacher of yoga for cyclists.
Yoga has been growing in popularity in recent years and is steadily becoming the favourite cross-training practice for many athletes. The benefits are huge.
From simply stretching out at the end of your ride to strengthening your muscles, yoga is a great complement to your cycling – and can help prevent injuries, improve your performance and enjoyment when you’re out on your bike.
Why Yoga Will Improve Your Cycling
Stretch it out! The most well-known aspect of yoga is stretching. As cyclists, we can get very tight hip flexors, quads and hamstrings. Yoga offers plenty of poses to lengthen the muscles and balance the work of the muscles.
Regular stretches will improve your flexibility.
Strengthen Core, upper body, legs… Yoga can help you build strength, thus not only improving your cycling but even more importantly helping protect your joints and lower back. Strengthening through yoga can help you prevent injury!
Attune to the body Practicing yoga helps you become aware of finer sensations in the body. A better understanding of how your body reacts to exercise can help you perform better as well as anticipate potential injuries.
Focus Breathing, visualisations and relaxation are a big part of practising yoga. Strengthening the mind-body connection will help you concentrate. With a clearer mind, you can better focus on your performance.
Best Yoga Poses for Cyclists
I have put together a series of poses which focus on stretching the hips and thighs. I would recommend practising them in this order, holding each pose for a minimum of 10 breaths on each side (one breath is one full inhalation and one full exhalation). Take your time to get into the pose, breathe slowly. Feel free to use props to help you feel comfortable in the poses.
Using a strap or a scarf (try using one that isn’t too elasticated/stretchy), place it on the ball of your foot and extend the leg towards the ceiling. You want your thigh to be at a 90º angle with your upper body; you can bend your knee to do this.
Press your foot into the strap. Relax your shoulders. Your bottom leg can either be bent or straight, depending on what is most comfortable for you.
Psoas stretch (hip flexors)
Come into a low lunge, front leg bent, foot flat on the floor, back knee down. Your back toes can be tucked or you can place the top of your foot flat.
Place your hands on your hips. Inhale, and then as you exhale allow your hips to sink forward, deepening the stretch to the front of your hip. If you are not using a yoga mat, you can place a towel under your back knee for padding.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Step the right foot over the left thigh and place it on the floor, right pointing directly up at the ceiling.
Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind you, and wrap your left arm around your right knee. With every inhale, lengthen the spine, and with every exhale twist a little deeper.
Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed. (Please note that you need both sit bones to be on the floor evenly in this pose: if this is not the case, place something under your sit bones to elevate your hips. You can use a folded blanket, yoga blocks or a firm cushion)
This pose is called Supta baddha konasana. It is a wonderful pose to relax and gently open the hips. Lie on your back and bring the soles of the feet together, allowing your knees to open to the sides. You can place one hand on your belly and one on your chest.
If you wish to have more support, use rolled-up blankets under your knees. You can also fold a blanket in a long narrow way, to place under your spine and gently open your chest. You can stay there, observing your breath for as long as you wish. For this pose, I would suggest a minimum of 20 breaths.
Yoga with a view
Want to improve your cycling fitness even further? Want to train for a big ride? Look no further than our Cycling Fitness Guide, specially designed for cyclists of all levels. Cycling Fitness Plan
Now you’ve practised yoga for cyclists, see some of our cycling trips below and plan your adventure.