Yoga for cyclists

This is a guest post from Verity who wanted to share some great stretches that keep your cycling position pain free. If it’s good enough for Lance..

Being a keen daily cyclist and a yoga teacher, I am often wondering how many London cyclists actually stretch out their cycling muscles.

I wonder like me, if you stay in bed in the mornings for as long as possible so when you get to work dead on time, there is no chance for a stretch, and when you get home in the dark all you want to do is cook dinner or relax!

To keep the balance in the body it is important to counter stretch the cyclists position, which I fondly refer to as the prawn position – hunched forward, shoulders, abs, hips, wrists and neck short and tight. The neck and digestive areas have such important functions they do deserve a stretch out every few days. (Lance Armstrong takes yoga classes twice a week!)

So I have devised my top 3 yoga stretches/poses for you:

Yoga for cyclists pose 1: Downward dog pose. Adho Mukha Svanasana

Down Dog Adho mukha svanasana

This focus’s on the stretching the back of the legs and opens the back and shoulders as it strengthens the arms and upper back.

Start in four point kneeling with your hands under your shoulders and you knees under you ankles.  Tuck your toes under and stretch your buttocks over your heels.  Keeping your shoulders relaxed slowly straighten you legs to the point where you feel the stretch down your hamstrings or calves.  Aim to gently push your shoulders towards your knees.

Yoga for cyclists pose 2: Pigeon hip stretch. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

pigoen eka pada rajakapotasana

This focus’s on stretching the buttocks and IT band.

From four point kneeling bring your right knee to your right wrist.  Shift your hips back as far as feels comfortable so that the knee is moving out to the right and the ankle is near the left hip bone.  You should feel a deep stretch in the buttocks.  If you want to go deeper move the knee further out to the right and the front foot forward. Lift the chest or rest the elbows on the floor and breath.  Repeat on the other side.

If you want a reclining version of this, which is slightly more comfortable for some:

Lying on your back with your head, neck and shoulders relaxed, place your right ankle on your left knee. Thread your right hand through the gap between both legs and hold hands behind your left thigh. If you can’t reach use a scarf or belt or just hold on to the right ankle. Breath for at least 20 deep breaths and feel the muscles soften. Repeat on the other side.

Yoga pose 3: Low Lunge. Anjaneyasana

low lunge anjaneyasana

This focus’s on stretching the quads (front of thigh), the front hamstring sometimes and opens the stomach, chest and neck.

Start kneeling up.  Place your right foot forward quite far and shift the hips forward so that the front knee is above the ankle.  Gently tuck the tailbone under. Keeping the chest lifted up lift the hands above the head and look up, lengthening the neck up as you do. Don’t let the neck drop back, be gentle.  Breath deeply into the chest for 10 long deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Yoga workshops in London

I also run 2 hour yoga for cyclist workshops in London. Even if you are just an occasional cyclist, its fun, super informative and everyone leaves feeling stronger, longer, looser, relaxed and full of information about which stretches or movements they need to do for their personal posture or weak areas.

My next workshop is 5th March 2011 at Evolve Yoga Centre in South Ken. £25 before 26/2/11, £30 after.

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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10 Responses to Yoga for cyclists

  1. deadmanjones 09/02/2011 at 12:17 pm #

    My yoga practice up here in sunny Stockport predates my cycling, but I definitely find it a major help. My yoga teacher is currently cycling across Laos so he must do too. I’ve encouraged a friend who cycles far more than I do to join my class, and he’s definitely noticing the difference, especially dog down, which is rightly #1 on this list. It’s an easy position to get into for pretty much anyone.

    For God’s sake don’t use the Wii for this though. It’s utter nonsense.

  2. Lucy 09/02/2011 at 12:29 pm #

    I’ve got very short handstrings and have been cycling for 5 years in London. My muscles on my legs became very bulky about a year ago so I’ve started doing 20 minutes of yoga in the morning or when I get home. It’s made so much difference. I also have a wooden ball that I use to loosen up the muscles in my bum! This also helps.

  3. thereverent 09/02/2011 at 12:31 pm #

    Very interesting, and useful.
    I’ll have to try some of these out.

  4. Amaya 09/02/2011 at 12:32 pm #

    I’ve been combining cycling and yoga for years and never have problems with sore muscles or cramps. While out touring, yoga is what keeps me sane. Thanks for bringing more awareness to its benefits.

  5. Nicole 09/02/2011 at 10:11 pm #

    Great to identify the best yoga poses for cyclists. I try and do 10-15 minutes of Sun Salutations three or four times a week to keep my hamstrings from getting too short. I find a backbend quite helpful too because we’re always bent forward over the bike. I definitely benefit from yoga and certainly feel it when I don’t practice for a couple of weeks.

    I can’t do the 5th March but if you run any more workshops for cyclists could you let us know?

    • Verity 10/02/2011 at 9:43 am #

      Thanks for all the lovely posts. Great to see how many people already feel the benefits of yoga for cycling.
      I will see if I can post another article when I organise my next one, so you are all up-to-date.

  6. Andrew Straw 10/02/2011 at 9:58 am #

    Some of the guides at Skedaddle cycling holidays were raving on about how yoga had improved their riding and now were all hooked. I really does help and makes stretching way less boring!!

  7. singletracksurfer 11/02/2011 at 10:18 am #

    I tried yoga to (successfully) combat a bad back.

    obviously lessons would be best (to avoid incorrect technique) but I couldn’t find any local cyclist specific ones and can’t always get to classes (nothing to do with being a bloke and feeling self conscious) so got this dvd which is superb.

  8. nilling 11/02/2011 at 10:31 am #

    I record a yoga show on Body in Balance (Sky Channel 275) and I certainly benefit from the stretching and breathing.techniques 🙂

  9. Phil 17/02/2011 at 11:55 am #

    I would recommend Tai Chi Chuan as an excellent method of improving posture, balance and proprioception- all necessary for cycling. I have been doing it for a year now, and for me as a direct result all these physiological elements have improved. As a plus, in martial application it is an extremely effective art. The Eightfold Silk Brocade stretching and breathing exercises are specifically aimed at improving circulation, beathing and general musculoskeletal function, and can be carried out by most people.

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