Why cyclists should try yoga

Cycling is fantastic for you – it’s a great way of getting exercise without pounding your joints and since it’s not weight bearing, cyclists generally get fewer injuries than runners. However, many bike riders still suffer from the odd niggle, and Yoga can definitely help.

Yoga can benefit cyclists through:

Stretching out tight muscles

Bending over the handlebars for extended period of time, and the repetitive action of pedalling can sometimes lead to discomfort which is easily remedied with a good stretching session.

Areas cyclists tend to suffer with the most are the lower back, hamstrings, quads and IT bands.

Building core strength

It isn’t uncommon for one leg to be stronger than the other, leading to overuse of the stronger leg, and even a slight twist in the pelvis. Regular Yoga encourages realignment of any in-balances by having you work your entire body equally. Every exercise is repeated on each side, and any rotation in the pelvis or spine can be addressed through stretching.

Exercises work the entire body, from the ankles, to glutes, hamstrings, quads, core and upper body and stronger legs will provide more power with every pedal stroke.

Putting weight through weak arms can also lead to fatigue, especially over long rides or over climbs, and many poses build upper body and core strength which can address this.

Providing time to switch off

This one applies to everyone, not just cyclists. Yoga gives you a chance to concentrate on your body, forgetting daily concerns. Most Yoga sessions end with a short meditation, or Savasana – this is simply a moment of quiet and calm which can make the rest of the day seem much more managable.

Here’s a look at some of the key poses that benefit cyclists…

The pictures below come from Kelly Brooks, who teaches Yoga in Clapham on Tuesday and Thursday and Vauxhall on Wednesday

The Downward Facing Dog is fantastic for stretching from your ankles to your lower back, as well as building strength in the upper body which can help with climbing.

twc downward dog

Much like a traditional squat, the Chair works your glutes, quads and hamstrings. However, as your feet are close together, you also put more emphasis on ankle and lower leg strength, as well as stretching your arms, shoulders and upper back, which can become tense from bending over handlebars.

Twc chair

The Warrior 1 post is a perfect example of combining a stretch with a strength exercise – opening out the hip flexors, but asking the leading leg to work hard to support your weight.

Twc warrior 1

These are just four of many, many poses – many of which are fantastic for anyone, cyclists included. Though you can often find images of Yoga poses online, they are usually strung together in a sequence, and attending a class will allow you to enjoy the fluid movement from one to another.

Do any London Cyclist readers attend Yoga regularly, or perhaps do any similar activity?

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7 Responses to Why cyclists should try yoga

  1. MJ Ray 11/12/2014 at 9:08 am #

    I sit fairly upright, pedal gently and ride some quiet routes to clear my head, so maybe yoga is more for riders who bend forwards enough to need more core strength. I feel putting too much weight on your arms is a bad idea though: fix the bike fit rather than your muscles.

  2. Phil 11/12/2014 at 1:42 pm #

    Like MJ Ray, I set up my bikes so I can sit upright; I grew to dislike being stretched and bent over a bike in an inappropriate approximation of a ‘sport’ riding posture, which led to back, neck and wrist problems- none of which have manifested since. I can also see further over traffic, which is a lot safer. As far as similar exercise goes, I have been practicing Tai Chi Chuan ( with emphasis on the martial aspect ) for nearly six years, and I am stronger, fitter and healthier than I was twenty years ago as a direct result.

  3. Susan Thomas 12/12/2014 at 10:13 am #

    Swimming also great!

  4. Miles Gripton 12/12/2014 at 10:37 am #

    A great series from a few years back. http://road.cc/content/news/71028-video-yoga-cyclists-part-1-introduction

  5. Jude 12/12/2014 at 11:00 am #

    I started doing yoga a few months ago, after having had people tell me for years that I should really try it. I have to say, despite my early scepticism, I’m a convert. I’ve never been particularly flexible, and cycling almost every day for the past ten years probably hasn’t helped matters. Before I started the yoga, my hamstrings were so tight I couldn’t bend over and touch my toes. Now, only a few months later, I’m getting closer to being able to put my palms on the floor.

    I’m not sure what, if any, benefit this extra flexibility is having for my cycling. I can say that doing yoga makes me feel really good, and I practically float – rather than cycle – home from after class.

  6. Fiona 12/12/2014 at 3:26 pm #

    I have cycled to commute for over 15 years and took up yoga last year- complete convert- strengthens your upper body and has changed the shape of my legs completely. Everything is much more streamlined- double bonus alongside the feel good factor!

  7. Biking Navigator 17/02/2015 at 5:33 am #

    I have been cycling and doing yoga for years now. I feel they are complimentary – you can get great cardio from biking (with less strain on your joints) and great muscle strengthening with yoga. Barre classes like Physique 57 are also amazing for building muscle.

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