Cycling and Yoga 9th December

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Yoga can help a cyclist’s performance, but you will need to get off your bike and onto a yoga mat!


Yoga and time will teach us strength, stability and mind/ breathe control.   A strong core can make a better cyclist but just cycling does not make your core strong.   Cyclist normally focus on cardio work and leg strength, which some forms of yoga target to.   Yet yoga also focuses on flexibility, core strength, mind / breath control and lower back strength.

 Yoga comes in variety of styles and disciplines, from the slow focused pose by pose Ivengar style to fast moving and intensity of Ashtanger yoga.  Each has its own merits and it is dependent on what you want from your practice to where you go to get it.  Cyclist benefit most from the more flowing styles of yoga like Astanger, Power and Hatha Vinyasa flow as they work through a range of poses and moves that builds muscles endurance.

As cyclist spend most of their time bent over their handlebars, this leads to tight hip flexors and lower back.

Yoga can benefit cyclist in many ways:


Yoga poses are by design and focused on flexibility in the joints, muscles and ligaments.   Cyclists spend their time hunched over their handlebars and this can lead to strain and tightness on the lower back, hips and shoulders and neck and shortening of the hamstrings.   This can lead to back pain and prolonged stiffness after a long ride.  Getting onto the yoga mat can help release the tension in your lower back and hips, with the potential to improve performance on the bike as well as helping to prevent injury.

Strength & core:

The strength you will build through your yoga practice will help you feel more at ease in the saddle, giving you the ability to focused on the race and phase of the ride you are in.   Yoga poses are aimed at alignment of the whole body and when focused on key areas around the hips and lower back for cyclists, you will find the value this time spent on the mat will give when you get back onto the bike.

Many people are surprised when they first start yoga by the level of strength and stability that is needed during the practice.  As teachers we also look to stabilise the muscles using both balance and strength work on the mat. If a strong core will make a cyclist better, then cycling is not what you need to do to get a strong core!  You core is not an impressive six pack but an interconnecting and important set of muscles that keeps us upright, along the spine, hips, pelvis region.  Yoga ensures that you work this whole region.

Focused Breath

Yoga not only focuses on the physical body, but on the connection between the body and the mind.  In yoga you can learn the belly breathe which focuses on teaching you to breathe into the belly and not just the upper chest. This helps you use the full inhalation and exhalation of the breath when training and competing on the bike, as shallow panting (chest breathing) drives less oxygen into the blood stream and causes fatigued muscles.

Secondly, understanding and managing the breath can help to keep you calm in pressure situations and keep you relaxed in the saddle.  The yoga poses will put the body under stress yet the mind and breath remain calm.  This muscle memory will enable you to increase your endurance when climbing or racing and use the breath to release tension. 

Injury protection

At the heart of yoga is Ahimsa, non harming.   The philosophy of yoga is to connect to the body and listen to its needs and limitations, which may vary from day to day and hour to hour. Unlike your cycling you will get to leave the ego at the door of the yoga class and just focus on yourself, without the need to compare what others are doing in the class.  When cyclists injure themselves it is usually due to weak backs and cores, forming an imbalance between left and right.   So focusing on the alignment and listening to the body, you can notice these difference quickly and work to strengthen the whole body.  

There is a common misnomer that yoga is for girls you want to do some stretching, yet yoga can actually be a strong and powerful workout for the body.  The focus you put in through the class will pay dividends in the saddle.

You may feel sore after yoga class.  Yet if you can work with this soreness to get to the next level of flexibility but you will also leave the classes relaxed and have more clarity and focus for the rest of the day.

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