Yoga for Cyclists
Yoga is a discipline designed to help you reach a higher state of consciousness. For those of us that ride, we know that the simple act of throwing a leg over a saddle can be our first step down a similar path. Riding, in this metaphor, is akin to asana, the postures and movements associated with yoga. We all know that perfect feeling where nothing else matters while out on a ride, where the air is fresher, the colors more vivid, and the feel of the world more surreal. That could be enough for you. That could be enlightenment.
For those of us looking to ride inside because of time, or light, or weather, it makes the most sense to maximize your effort so that when you do get back to that outside ride, you can feel your best as you peak any climb or enjoy a fresh tailwind. For that reason, we turned to Stephen Balsley, our all-around yogi guy here at CycleOps, to show a nice, simple series that could be used as either a warm-up, cool down, or day off, series to help develop flexibility and strengthen key muscles for riding. This 14 minute yoga series is a nice example of how to start, and helps to maximize the effort of synching breath to movement.
Yoga, like riding, is an individual pursuit. As you practice, just as you ride, you learn more about your body and how you react to stimulus and response. Yoga as a discipline will help you be a better cyclist, more mindful of the ride, better able to react when obstacles are in your way, and smoother through your breath.
This simple series is designed to bring length to the hamstrings and IT bands, both of which are tightened from the fixed position of pedaling a bike. Just as indoor riding helps you build strength in those areas, it also leads to a more accentuated tightening.
Some quick tips to get started
- Try to hold each pose for 5 breaths.
- Do your best to link movement to breath to make sure you aren't rushing through the stretch.
- This isn't a bike race, so leave your competitive nature behind when you get off the saddle. Go as far as you can each position and accept your progress for what it is.
- If it doesn't feel right, back away and own the pose.
- If you lose your breath, back away and own the pose. What looks right for one person might not make sense for you.
As Stephen mentions in the video, the simple act of breathing may seem strenuous when you first start out – and that's okay. As yogi's often say, yoga is called a "practice" because one is always practicing. For those with a competitive edge, taking time to practice yoga is a great challenge for the body and mind – which may, in turn, help you turn into an even better rider.