Yoga for Cyclists

Why is yoga great for cyclists? Cycling involves a lot of repetitive movements that can cause tightness and shortens muscles along the front side of the body. This tension, along with strain from using big muscle groups in the hips, glutes, quads and hamstrings can often lead to pain and even injury.

Whether you are looking to activate your muscles before a ride or recover after cycling, practicing yoga is a great way to become a stronger, more well-balanced athlete.

yoga for muscle activation

Yoga for Muscle Activation

Vinyasa yoga: Vinyasa is a practice of yoga that invoves linking poses together in continuous motion. It is also known as a “flow” practice.

When: Morning, or before training or a ride.

Why:

  1. Vinyasa yoga helps wake the body up, activating your muscles and lubricating your joints for cycling.
  2. It is an opportunity to check in with your body. How are you feeling? Do you have any pain or tension? You can adjust your yoga practice to address any specific needs before a training session.
  3. Yoga practice allows you to prepare mentally for the task ahead. The breathwork involved in practicing yoga is an opportunity to set an intention and focus on your training goals.
  4. Regular vinyasa practice can increase strength in your core, shoulders, legs and back, which is beneficial for cycling performance.

Best yoga poses for cycling warm-up:

  • A standard vinyasa flow includes moving fluidly between the following poses, which can be modified if your new to yoga:
    • Plank (Beginner modification: keep your kneeds on the ground.)
    • Chaturanga (Essentially, lowering to hover above the ground with elbows in. Beginner modification: keep your knees on the ground.)
    • Upward facing dog (Beginner modification: cobra or sphinx pose.)
    • Downward facing dog (Beginner modification: child’s pose)
  • Additions to a standard vinyasa flow:
    • Three-legged dog, with a hip opener
    • Forward fold, with shoulder opener
    • Runner’s lunge, with twist
    • Warrior poses
a woman in a recovery yoga pose

Yoga for Recovery

Yin yoga: Yin is a practice of yoga that involves long holds and more seated or reclined positions. It focuses on releasing deep layers of fascia and mindfulness.

When: Evening, or after training or a ride.

Why:

  1. Practicing Yin yoga helps relax your body and mind after a hard day on the bike. The calm breath work that takes place during Yin yoga is in contrast to your breathing while your body is in a “stress” state during training. This can help improve your sleep and recovery by bringing your body back to a state of calmness.
  2. Releasing deeply-held tension from hard training efforts is another benefit of Yin yoga.

Best yoga poses for cycling recovery:

Many of these stretches are meant to open your shoulders and chest, which can become tight and closed-off when cycling. Also look for poses that are focus on hips, IT-band, quadriceps, back muscles, calves, hamstrings, and piriformis gluteus.

Pro Tip: Back stiffness, tension, and pain isn’t always caused by the back muscles, but rather, the hips! Releasing hip tension (common among cyclists) can often releive back pain.

  • Child’s pose
  • Thread the needle (shoulder release)
  • Yogi squat
  • Toe squat
  • Lunge
  • Pigeon or half-pigeon
  • Shoelace
  • Butterfly
  • Dragonfly/ half-dragonfly
  • Saddle
  • Bridge
  • Reclining twist
  • Happy baby
  • Savasana

How often: You don’t need to do an hour or more of yoga every day to feel the benefits on the bike. Consistency is more important than length of your practice. It’s better to practice yoga for five mintues every day than one hour every few weeks. Make it a part of your routine, and above all, enjoy it!

Meet Tessa!

I am a professional cyclist who focuses on gravel racing. For me, yoga is a very good way to activate my body in the morning and to relax and recover after my workout. Yoga is also a great way to visualize. You can make your goals clearer so you can better achieve them. Yoga ensures that my body is completely ready for training and provides mental training that often improves my physical performance. Yoga is also just a nice relaxing moment in the day.

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