Yoga has proven to have many physical and mental benefits. Aside from the fact that it’s exercise, which is generally good for you, the breathing process also helps to lower blood pressure and anxiety. Yogis who practice regularly often experience an increase in patience and mental balance, as well as physical balance and strength. All of these qualities are beneficial to cyclists.
Yoga is also known to be restorative and can help your body heal if it has experienced traumas and stresses. Any cyclist knows how important this fact is after a long bike ride or even a recent bike accident. Cycling can sometimes be hard on your neck and back, and almost always the sciatic nerves. If you don’t take care of you body, you could end up experiencing severe joint pain and muscle pain, on and off the bike. Nobody wants that! So we’re going to share a few yoga poses for cyclists to help ease those nagging aches and pains.
First, it’s important to note the breath. Any true yogi will tell you that the practice is all about the breath. The movements then follow. So make sure that you are focusing on your breath when moving through these poses.
Cat/Cow is a great beginning stretch before moving on to the others listed below. This is great yoga pose for cyclists because it warms up the spine and creates warmth in the muscles making movement easier and less stiff.
On hands and knees, you’ll begin with your back flat. Your knees should be in line with your hips and your hands should be in line with your shoulders. On your inhale, you’ll drop the stomach toward the ground, and lift your head and hips toward the sky. Make sure your arms are straight and you’re still on your hands and knees. On your exhale, round your back toward the sky and curl your head and butt toward the earth. Your arms will be straight here. This is a good time to take a little organic movement in your neck, shaking your head “yes” and “no,” and also moving your hips from side to side stretching out your side body. Repeat the cat/cow shapes a few times, and remember where to inhale and exhale. For a visual representation, click here.
Low lung is a great stretch for your groin, hip flexors and quads. It also helps to relieve tight shoulders.
Begin by kneeling as if you were proposing to someone. On an inhale, raise your arms above you and slowly lean forward. Make sure that your grounded leg is straight back behind you and that your hips are both facing forward. You’ll want to think of your belly button meeting your back (i.e. keeping your core engaged.) Make sure your shoulders are low and not up by your ears. On an exhale, lean back to your beginning position. Do this stretch a few times on each side, remembering when to breathe in and out.
This pose is great to open up the chest and back, stretch the abdominal muscles and stretches the lower back.
Laying face down on your mat, place your hands just below your shoulders. On an inhale, raise your upper body while keeping your hips and legs grounded. Keep your gaze to towards the top of your mat. The higher you raise your upper body, the more you can look straight forward. You want your neck to be relaxed and not stressed. On an exhale, lower down. Repeat a few times, lifting on each inhale and lowering on each exhale.
The intention of this pose is to open up your hips.
Laying on your back, bring your knees up with your feet on the ground. Take the right ankle to meet the upper thigh of your left leg. If this is too much, place your ankle just above the left knee. You should create a figure 4 with your legs. Take a breath in, and on your exhale, reach through and grab your left shin, pulling your legs closer to you. Hold for a few breaths, and switch sides.