When I first began cycling, I would have laughed aloud if someone were to tell me that I’d be doing yoga to improve my ride times. However, a few years into riding, a fellow cyclist explained exactly how beneficial yoga is for improved flexibility and strength. This rider, whom I trusted and respected completely due to his 10+ years of cycling experience and fantastic times on competitive races, also explained how yoga helped him control his breathing while riding which resulted in better endurance. I got over my fears and stereotypes of yoga, tried it, and was amazed at how quickly I experienced results. From then on, I began practicing yoga several times a week in addition to stretching before riding. I developed a routine that works for me personally by combining the tips I received from my cyclist friend and what I’d read online. Below, I list the 5 most helpful poses in yoga for cyclists.
Cat-cow is a pose I needed to practice for a while before truly getting down. I saw a yoga instructor do this with such fluidity and remember thinking to myself, “I’ll never get my back to bend like that!” But sure enough, with practice, I was able to. The results are stretching and strengthening my spine and neck, increasing coordination, and massaging the kidneys and adrenal glands.
2. Reclining Hero
This is another pose that I didn’t think I would physically be able to achieve. The first time I tried it, I thought that my quads were going to snap off. However, just like with Cat-Cow, persistence paid off and I’m now able to fully recline backwards in this pose. Reclining Hero helps to increase flexility and blood flow in the hip flexors, stretches and strengthens the ankles, and also improves flexility in the spine.
Although Dolphin pose looks straight forward and easy, achieving the proper form is actually pretty difficult. Ultimately, you want your legs to be straight and your feet to be flat on the floor. Once you achieve the posture here, you’ll ultimately be working to stretch your shoulders, hamstrings, calves, and arches. This pose strengthens both arms and legs when held for an extended period. It also goes to aid in digestion if you’ve eaten before a ride.
The Pigeon pose is another excellent position to help with the hip flexors. When I first began riding, my hip flexors weren’t flexible at all. Pigeon really helped me loosen up my hip flexors as well as strengthen and stretch my glutes.
I always end my cycling yoga routine with the Legs-Up-the-Wall pose. This is a restorative stretch more than anything as it helps me to feel great before riding as well as stretching the hamstrings at the same time. By lying flat on the floor, you’re also getting a great stretch on your neck and back.
If you’re a cyclist and haven’t tried yoga, I strongly encourage you to give it a go. Not only will it help you stretch and strengthen key riding muscles, but it will relax you and assist in breathing techniques before rides. I’ve found that yoga has really upped my game and improved my ride times.
Best of luck in your training!