Yoga for cyclists? Really? It may feel like it’s an odd pairing, but if you’ve ever given yoga a try, you know it can help you with a lot of facets in your life. For cyclists, yoga can help in three main ways: it improves flexibility, builds strength, and develops breathing techniques. If you regularly put in long sessions on the bike, it is critical to stretch and work on flexibility. And breathing? Well, that’s key too. Learn some simple poses to practice at home.
Perfect your posture, tackle longer climbs and get ready for your weekend missions these top seven yoga poses for cyclists.
And if you look around any Australian city or town, it seems most Aussies get it. Whether you’re clad in lycra cycling gear, a neoprone wetsuit or too-short footy shorts, this is a country of movers, alright. But when it comes to cycling, did you know that yoga can help you take it up a gear?
“For cyclists, yoga can prevent injury, help you adopt a more aerodynamic position and increase overall comfort on your bike – which means you can spend longer in the saddle,” Becci explains. “I like to think of these seven yoga postures as supplementing the cyclist’s ‘movement diet’ by stretching the tight bits and tightening up the weak bits!”
1. Standing forward bend (Uttanasana variation)
“Stand with your feet hip-width apart, soften your knees. Exhale and roll your spine towards the ground. Let your hands and head hang, and take hold of your elbows. If it’s too intense, keep the legs bent and rest your chest on your thighs. To really utilise your spine, think of ‘unrolling’ as you come back up to standing,” says Becci.
“This simple pose stretches the hamstrings, decompresses the spine and releases tension in the upper back by turning your bike posture upside down. Great pre or post-ride, or when you’re waiting for a coffee at the cafe stop.”
2. Triangle (Trikonasana)
“Take your feet wide,” instructs Becci. “Turn your left foot in slightly (approx 45 degrees), and your right foot out (aprox 90 degrees). Reach your arms out at shoulder height. Inhale and extend your body in all directions. Press down with your feet, up through your crown, and out with both arms. Reach your right arm over your extended leg and stretch your left hand up.”
With so much time spent hunched over the handlebars, our bodies are crying out for lateral movements. “Side-bending strengthens and stretches the torso, shoulders, legs and hips using a balance of internal (muscular) and external (skeletal) support,” she adds.
3. Dolphin plank (Ardha Pincha Mayurasna variation)
“Come onto all-fours. Clasp your hands, bringing your elbows in line with your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and lift-up your hips by straightening the legs. Think about pressing your forearms into the floor, engage your thighs by ‘lifting’ the knee-caps, squeeze your buttocks and draw in your abdomen as you exhale. Work up to holding for 10 smooth breaths.”
“This posture is similar to the position we hold on the bike. Use this posture to build strength in your ‘core’ and to practice adopting a more ‘aero’ position on the bike.”
4. Seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
“Sit on the floor with legs extended,” says Becci. “Inhale, reach up and bend forward with your chest lifted and spine extended. Place your hands on your legs and avoid collapsing your upper body, or pulling with your hands. For support, sit on a cushion or against a wall, and don’t worry about touching your toes – that’s not the destination of the posture.”
“Targeting tight hamstrings, this bend helps take the pressure off your lower back and can contribute to your comfort in the saddle. It also increases your ability to adopt an aggressive TT posture. Think of it as gaining free watts!”
“Sit on the floor,” says Becci. “Bring one shin parallel with the top of your yoga mat, stacking your other leg on top. In an ideal world, knees and ankles will be in line. If comfortable, exhale and creep your fingers forward. When you get to a ‘sticky’ bit (you’ll know what this means when you try) stop, hold and, if your muscles start to release, move further forward. Swap sides and repeat.”
My absolute number one pose for cyclists. Works on tightness and tension in the glutes and piriformis.”
6. One-sided frog (Bhekasana variation)
“Lie on your belly. Place your left forearm in front of you for support, bring your right foot up and hold your toes. If you can’t reach the foot, use a strap. Focus on gently guiding your heel towards the buttock. Don’t force it. Swap sides.
A quad and shoulder stretch in one! This is the reverse of our ‘bike posture’ and is a post-ride must.”
“Lie on your belly. Bring your hands to your waist, palms up. To prepare, lengthen your body by reaching down through your toes and up through your crown. Inhale, lift your chest and toes, and press the tops of your hands into the floor. Spread the load throughout your body and breath up towards your chin, rather than pressing your belly into the floor. Hold for up to five breaths, rest and repeat.”
“It strengthens the entire back of the body and stabilises the shoulders,” adds Becci. “And it is good for being able to endure long climbs as well as providing general bike-body maintenance.”
Enjoy a fantastic ride with one of our perfect bikes! Here at Synaptic Cycles, we have a bike for everyone. Rent a bike or schedule a tour today at 949-484-6409. Visit our Facebook page for more information.