Cycling has become extremely popular in London in recent years; we have the Boris Bike scheme and annual cycles around London like the Ride 100 to get people outside on their bikes. I teach yoga to corporates like Evans Cycles and I have seen more and more people turn to yoga to help them to improve their cycling by improving their posture on the bike.
Yoga can rebalance and realign the body. Most cyclists ride with their shoulders hunched and their back arched for long periods of time which leads to loading on the disks in your spine. Because the legs are never fully lengthened when riding, the hamstrings can become tight causing the lumbar region to be vulnerable to injury and pain. Cycling is a repetitive sport on the muscles and yoga can really stretch and release tension in these tight areas especially through the legs and calves.
Cyclists put the body and spine in a forward direction and yoga makes us strengthen the front side of the body and the back, opening the whole body out and making the body feel lighter. A strong core is vital for posture and power on a bike. Most road cyclists have a weak abdominals and many of the standing poses in yoga help to twist the spine keeping it supple and help to strengthen the core.
Cycling uses the breath and long uphill cycles require mental toughness; yoga teaches us to use the breath efficiently and also helps us to ignore the mind, the ego and any negative thoughts to make us more powerful in life. The stronger the breath the more efficient the muscles will be and yoga will not only make you stronger and fitter it will also keep you mentally focused for your rides.
My Top 5 Poses For Cyclists
The cat cow pose will release tension in the spine and help you to have a flatter back, engaging the top of the back when you are cycling.
In tabletop position on your inhale drop the belly and lift the head. On your exhale tuck the tailbone under – arch the spine, vertebrate by vertebrate up toward the ceiling.
A common problem for cyclists is weak core and so the tension in riding position goes straight into the lower back.
To make your way into boat pose sit tall and start to raise the legs into boat pose. Keeping the chest lifted and the shoulders away from the spine focus in on the breath and hold for 5 deep breaths. If its hard to straighten the legs bend the knees and bring the hands behind the knees. Use the hands to draw the thigh and chest together to keep the chest lifted.
Reverse Table top
Ease out tight thighs and also open up the chest, shoulders and back in this lovely pose.
Fingers should be pointed towards the body, knees hip distance apart and ankles in line with the hips. Push through the heels and raise the hips high. Relax the shoulders and roll the shoulder blades together away from the ears. Take 5 nice deep breaths and make sure the chin comes to the chest before your bring yourself down.
For cyclists rounding in the back over the handle bars can be a common problem. Cobra pose strengthens the upper back.
Lying on your belly toes pointed and legs extended behind you. Interlace your fingers above your hips and draw the fingers towards the heels feeling the shoulders roll away from the ears. Keep the gaze into the horizon.
A really great pose to strengthen the core and spine along with opening up the chest area. Also great for strengthening the legs, ankles and keeping the hips open.
With legs wide, right foot pointed to the top of the mat. Raise the arms shoulder width. Pushing back into the left leg exhale and extend the right arm over the straight right leg. Keep the knee caps and thighs active and bring the right hand to the right calf. Then, left hand extending through the arm, breath into the left side of the body and change sides.