Yoga for Bikers
Are you a cyclist? Are you a road biker or a mountain biker? Do you love triathlons?
Did you know that yoga is a great practice for those who love to ride their bikes?
Whether you are new to yoga or have done it plenty of times before, the practice offers many benefits for everyone. In fact, yoga can actually even improve your cycling abilities. This is especially true for those who do a lot of endurance-based cycling on a regular basis.
So, why is it so beneficial to do yoga for cyclists? How can yoga help you and your biking routine?
Benefits of Yoga for Cyclists
Now, let’s take a look at some of the major benefits that yoga has to offer cyclists.
Better Breathing- Yoga uses many breathing techniques, teaching you to be able to have more control over your breath while increasing the amount of oxygen intake. This is especially helpful for those who do a lot of cardio or practice exercises like cycling. Did you know that yoga even strengthens the muscles in the lungs and diaphragm? The more control you have over your breathing, the easier it will be to recover when going uphill or riding for longer periods of time. At the same time, breathing can help to improve one’s endurance when biking. If just learning proper breath control can be so beneficial, imagine what happens when adding the rest of a yoga practice in.
Balance and Stability- Having good balance is obviously important for cycling, but did you know that yoga can help to improve your balance, making biking easier in the long run? Through the many balancing poses in yoga, one can begin to work on one’s stability. The more you are able to balance, the more control you will have when riding your bike. While balancing might seem easy enough during cycling, even a little bit of shakiness can throw the entire routine off. This is why working on balance is so helpful, and why yoga can help to improve balance.
Mobility- When biking, it is important to be mobile and able to easily move your joints. If your hips are too tight, for example, cycling will become more difficult and uncomfortable. Yoga can be beneficial in increasing flexibility and mobility of the lower body, making cycling easier. Yoga can open up the soft tissues of the body, increasing stretchiness of the muscles, ligaments, and tendons, as well as softening the fascia. When you are very tight, cycling can make you easily sore from constant movement. You can use yoga as a gentle warm up before biking or to cool down after, ensuring that everything is properly stretched out. Stretching helps to ease pain and tension while keeping you moving.
Posture- When biking, many will round their backs and hunch forwards. The problem is that this can negatively impact one’s posture, creating soreness in the back of the body. Yoga helps to realign the spine and promote proper posture. This is important for any exercise that we choose to do. If you are a cyclist and you find that you are constantly dealing with a sore back, yoga is great for improving the posture but also for decreasing back pain in general. In addition, once you have started to learn how to work on your posture, it will be much easier to continue staying mindful of it as you keep cycling.
Common Ailments of Cyclists
Head Injuries- Unfortunately, head injuries tend to be pretty common when biking. This is why wearing a helmet is so important, but many choose to go cycling without one. Falling while biking is dangerous, especially if you happen to be going very fast when the fall happens. Having good balance can help to decrease the risks of falling, however, anyone can fall when cycling, and so it is important to take the steps to make sure your head is safe. Wear a helmet and work on your stability to ensure you are less likely to get hurt.
Pain in the Knees- The knees take a lot of force when biking. As you pedal, the legs are constantly pumping up and down and the joints of the knees are continuously moving. This can be caused by having tight ligaments, improper movement (for example, if the seat is too high and you are putting the strain in the wrong parts of the knees), and even arthritis. If you already have ongoing knee pain, it is best to be extra careful when getting on a bike as this can be easily exasperated from use.
Hip Pain- Similar to knees, hips can be injured from overusing them when biking. In addition, the tighter your hips are, the more sore you are likely to be. If you have chronic hip pain already, and you continue to put it through a lot of pressure and repeated movement, it makes sense that the pain and ailments will only get worse over time. When you bike, your hips are forced to stay squared with only up and down movement of the legs. This can make you sore after a while. Hip opening poses can help with releasing hip pain and opening tight hips.
Back and Neck Pain- When you are biking, the body is usually hunched over with the spine rounded. When this happens, you are not using correct posture, and you are likely to accidentally push yourself out of alignment. The more you lean forwards like this, the more sore you will be. When the back is rounded too far forwards, you are straightening the natural curve the spine should have and forcing pressure in the wrong areas. This can affect the neck by pushing it too far forwards and creating forward neck posture. The back can be sore in multiple different areas from incorrect posture. If you find your back is sore often after biking, you might want to work on sitting up straighter and using your core more to take the pressure out of the back of the body. Yoga can help with improving posture and decreasing pain in the neck and back.
How Yoga Can Improve Cycling
Did you know that you can improve your cycling? That’s right! Yoga has many benefits for cyclists, and can even make biking easier and more accessible. Take a look below to learn some of the best ways that yoga can improve cycling.
Breath Control- Proper breathing is important with any cardio exercise. Having better control over the breath helps with endurance, giving the body the oxygen it needs to keep up. The body uses a lot of oxygen during all types of cardio, and therefore, the more you can control your breathing, the better. Yoga teaches a lot of breathing techniques that are great for strengthening the muscles of the lungs and diaphragm while improving your endurance.
Strength- Yoga is a great way to strengthen the body, working all of the muscles and engaging them. For cycling, this is helpful to keep the lower body strong and able to keep up with constant peddling. The muscles of the legs will definitely become strong with continued biking, but yoga can help to make them even stronger, giving you more control when cycling. In addition, yoga is a great way to increase your core strength. Why is core strength important for biking? Well, core strength actually helps to hold you up and stabilize you when cycling. It also helps to keep you still on your bike so that you are not swaying side to side, making it easier to keep biking. Muscle strength helps to increase endurance so that you can bike more for longer.
Endurance- As you gain control over your strength, mobility, and breath control, you are increasing your endurance over time. As the muscles are able to handle more, and you are able to use proper breathing, you will be more likely to keep up your pace while increasing how far you can bike.
Flexibility- The more flexible you are, the less likely you are to have pain after cycling. If your muscles are tight, this makes it easier to accidentally get hurt from continued use of the muscles. If you cannot maintain the correct way to sit on a bike, you are much more likely to get hurt. When having an ongoing yoga practice, you are able to increase your flexibility, making it easier to hold your position for longer on your bike and ensuring faster recovery.
How to Incorporate Yoga into Your Routine When You are a Cyclist
As a Warm Up- Using yoga as a warm up is a great way to get your body up and moving before cycling. If you use yoga before going biking, it is best to practice more gentle poses so that you do not over-extend before a lot of movement. Gentle stretching is a great way to warm up the muscles without pulling them.
As a Cool Down- Practicing yoga right after biking can be great for cooling down and stretching out sore muscles. If you use yoga for cooling down after cycling, you can help to open up the hips, release tension from the legs, and stretch out the back of the body to better align your posture. Yoga can help to relax the body after a lot of exercise, making it easier to recover faster.
On Rest Days- If you do a lot of cardio, like biking, throughout your week, having rest days can help to recover and reset. However, rest days do not mean that you have to sit still all day, immobile. Instead, using your rest days as time for gentle movement can be a great way to keep your body moving on the days you are not doing cardio. In addition, the more you stretch on rest days and keep your body flexible, the easier your cardio days will become.
How Often Should You Practice Yoga for Cyclists
For bikers, having an ongoing yoga practice can help to make cycling easier and better. Practicing at least twice a week is always a great way to ensure you are getting your yoga in. However, how often you practice will depend on how long you are doing yoga for each time. If you are only doing ten minute practices, you could easily get away with doing yoga every day, or at least five days a week.
For twenty to thirty minute practices, a good recommendation would be to do yoga about three times a week, especially on rest-days.
For longer practices that are forty minutes or more, try doing yoga at least twice a week if not more. This ensures that you are getting your yoga in, even if it is only a few times a week. We might not always have time to be doing constant yoga, but we can make time to fit it into our schedules.
Best Yoga Poses for Cyclists
Bridge Pose- This is a great pose for bikers because it helps to stretch out and strengthen the glutes, core, and hips. This is a great way to reduce lower back and hip pain while improving improper posture and realigning the spine. To do bridge pose, start on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground. Bring your hands down your sides and inhale to lift the hips as you press your feet into the ground. Exhale to either keep the hands where they are or bring them together beneath the hips, helping to stabilize you. You can also use a block between the thighs here for traction, or you can place the block under the glutes if holding the hips up here is too difficult for you. Holding the pose for at least five to ten breaths is best. Exhale to come back down.
Boat Pose- This is a great pose for strengthening the core, legs, and back of the body. Since this is a wonderful core strengthener, it can help to have more stability when biking while decreasing pain that might show up in the back of the body. To do boat pose, start by sitting on the ground with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Take your hands behind you and press them down by your hips, inhaling to bring your legs up with your knees still bent. Next, bring your arms up, reaching towards your legs as you keep your spine long. You can keep your knees bent or you can straighten the legs here for the full pose. If you want to, you can also bring a block between your thighs here for more traction. In addition, if you need, you can loop up a strap around your feet, holding the ends of the strap in your hands as you maintain the pose. Stay here for at least five breaths or as long as you would like.
Chair Pose– This is another great pose for strengthening the core and glutes. In addition, it is a great hip stabilizer. To do chair pose, start by standing with the feet about hip-width distance apart, and bring the arms up at an angle, as if reaching to where the wall and ceiling meet. From here, bend into your knees, making sure they do not go over your toes, and keep your spine long as you drop your hips back. Use your core here to hold you in place and squeeze the leg muscles in. You can also use a block here between the legs if you would like, and you can even hold onto the back of a chair during the pose if that makes it more doable. Hold this pose for at least five deep breaths and then inhale when you are ready to come back up.
Locust Pose- Locust pose is great for the core, and it also helps to strengthen and engage the muscles in the arms and legs. By working on the muscles in the limbs, you are making it easier to keep up when peddling during biking. To do locust pose, start on your belly with your arms out in front of you and your legs straight back behind you. As you inhale, engage your core, and lift your arms and legs up, using your muscles to hold you up. Breathe deeply here. If this is too hard, you can also lift up just the arms and then just the legs separately. Another option is to bring the arms down by the sides and reach them back behind you. Whichever version of this pose you choose to do, hold the pose for at least five deep breaths before coming back down on an exhale.
Pigeon Pose- This pose is a wonderful way to open up the hips and increase flexibility within them. To do pigeon pose, start on your hands and knees and inhale to bring your right knee to your right wrist, exhaling to bring your right ankle to your left wrist. Keep your right foot flexed and straighten your left leg back behind you with the top of the foot flat on the ground. From here, you have the option to stay where you are, or, if you need more support, you can place a block under the right glute to take the tension out of your hip. Now, you can either stay here, or you can fold forwards over your front leg, deepening the pose. Hold this pose for about a minute, or ten deep breaths, and when you are ready, inhale to come back up, exhale to slowly unwind your leg, coming back to hands and knees. Repeat on the other side. If pigeon pose is too difficult, you can also try it while sitting in a chair. To do this version, you would sit up tall and bring your right ankle to your left thigh. You would then bring your right knee out to the side and flex your right foot. You would either stay here, or you could fold forwards over the leg.
Best Body By Yoga Programs for Cyclists
Are you a cyclist who is ready to start your yoga practice? Did you know that we offer a multitude of classes on our website for you to check out?
In fact, we even have a class specifically designed for athletes. Our Yoga Edge program is great for anyone who loves fitness and exercise. If you are looking for a practice that helps you to recover, restore, and rejuvenate yourself, this is the one for you. This program is great for all athletes, including cyclists. Check it out here!