After putting miles in on your bike, it’s important to give your body some relief. Not only does this mean adequate rest days to give your body time to recover, but yoga poses for cyclists can help those muscles out a little. Luckily, yoga has your back (and hamstrings and hips).
The key to yoga is to give yourself the adequate amount of time to relax into each pose. Whether you’re a yogi or not, taking time to reach those deep stretch targets and work on your breathing can help you become a more efficient cyclist. Anything less than 30 seconds won’t make a significant difference in lengthening the muscle fibers and tissue, but holding too long too soon can put you at risk of injury.
Ideally you should try to stretch for 5-10 minutes everyday, but start with 5 days a week. Hold each pose for about 30 seconds, working up to longer times as you become more comfortable. Never push your body further than what is comfortable for you.
Yoga Poses for Cyclists
The kneeling lunge is great for stretching out tight quads and slowly opening up the hips.
Start by kneeling down on all floors on a mat. Place a blanket or a pillow under your right knee before moving into the stretch if you find it uncomfortable.
Slowly bring the left leg up, placing your foot flat on the floor. Your right leg should be out behind you, with your foot pointing backwards. Place your hands on your hips as you press the hips forward. You should feel the stretch all down your hip flexor. As your body begins to relax, you can squeeze your glutes to increase the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This pose will help release tension along the back of your body, stretching the hamstrings and lengthening the spine.
Stand with your feet about hip distance apart and place your hands on your hips. Tuck your chin slightly toward your chest and bend forward at the hips. Relax your head, neck and shoulders and let your arms hang loosely. Place your palms or fingertips on the floor beside or slightly in front of your feet. If you can’t touch the floor, cross your forearms and grab your elbows. Hold for 30 seconds.
The cat-cow position will increase circulation to the spine, and gently stretch the chest, abdomen, and back.
Get down on all fours on your hands and knees (put a mat or cushion under your knees). Start with a straight back, then slowly lower your head and arch your back up towards the ceiling (cat position). Try to to get the greatest amount of curvature as possible for you. You may not feel the stretch in your spinal muscles, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Next, lift your head and tailbone upwards, curving your spine down towards the floor (cow position). Switch between the two for 1 minute.
Cyclists are known for having tight hips, so no routine would be complete without the ultimate hip opener.
Come onto all fours with your hands shoulder-distance apart. Bring your left leg forward so the left ankle comes to your right hand, then slide your right leg back, keeping your hips square.
Depending on your flexibility, your knee may be inline with your ankle, or tucked closer into your body as shown here. As you relax into the stretch, gently push your body back on that right leg, opening your hips. Hold for 30 seconds before switching sides.
There are a lot of different types of yoga, so you could try different classes until you find on that fits. For those that struggle with having the discipline to stretch at home, it can be a great way to ensure you are giving your body what it needs to recover. Even switching out just one of you rides a week for a yoga session can help your overall strength and power on your bike.