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Why Yoga Should Be Part of Your Cycling Regime


Julie Moore, 29th November 2016

Yoga isn’t just for hippies or girls who want to stretch, it’s for cyclists too. Whilst seemingly impossible yoga poses may not appear to have any relevance to riding a bike now, including yoga practice in your training programme can you give that competitive edge that you’ve been looking for.

man stretching with bike

So how can yoga practice benefit you?

Strength

Spending hours in the saddle can often expose underdeveloped muscles, particularly in the back, core and upper body.

Yoga will help create a muscular balance between these muscles and the prime cycling muscles, building a stronger support system for you on the bike. This is particularly important for mountain bikers who have to use the core and upper body whilst maintaining balance when riding over difficult, technical terrain.

mountain biker using strength

Remember, core isn’t just about abs, there are some 20-odd other muscles attached to the lumbo-pelvic-hip complex and yoga targets the whole region. A strong core makes you a better cyclist but cycling doesn’t make your core stronger!

Flexibility

Cyclists spend a long time hunched up over the handlebars which puts a strain on their lower backs, shoulders and neck. Tight hip flexors and hamstrings are another common complaint.

cyclist doing yoga in mountains

Yoga brings greater levels of flexibility to tight areas, improving your range of motion and consequently your power output and force as you are able to pedal efficiently and smoothly, 360 degrees.

cyclist doing yoga in mountains

Injury Prevention

Injuries are normally the result of some sort of imbalance, for example, imbalances between left and right legs can cause an inefficient pedal action. These imbalances can result in overuse injuries as stronger areas of the body compensate for the weaker ones.

Yoga strengthens your whole body, eradicating the differential between weak and strong areas as well as improving your posture.

girl in stream doing yoga

Focus

The non-physical elements of yoga, focus and breathing, are equally important to cyclists. It can be hard to remain calm when you’re under pressure in a race situation, but focusing on breathing can really help. Holding yoga poses is akin to climbing a big hill or going for the sprint finish – you need to focus, you need to hold it for that little bit longer to be rewarded, whether it be a polka dot jersey, race win or PB. Tour de France winner and Olympic Time Trial Champion, Sir Bradley Wiggins uses yoga to help improve his focus to great effect.

cyclist doing yoga in mountains

Yoga not only teaches you to focus on breathing nice and steady and taking deep breathes, you can learn breathing techniques to improve oxygen uptake to your muscles.

Yoga can be a great way to build strength during the base and build training periods and used as a recovery session during peak and race periods.

Don’t knock yoga until you’ve given it a try – you’ll be surprised at how hard a workout it can be!