Whether you prefer city cycling, mountain biking or road biking, yoga offers many benefits for cyclists at all levels.
Want to optimize your pedal stroke? Try yoga for endless benefits—it’s the perfect complement to your cycling practice. Here are 3 reasons to roll out your mat and start practicing yoga.
Whether you are a beginner, intermediate or experienced cyclist, riding a bike puts your body in a relatively abnormal position. You need to lean your body forward as you pedal and grip the handlebars with your hands. Over time, your muscles and joints need a bit of love. Yoga is a great way to stretch and soothe your joints while also gaining flexibility. Regardless of the type of cycling you practice (road, mountain or city), yoga can help you to reduce your risk of injuries and muscle pain; it will also improve your overall range of motion. Once you’ve stretched your muscles and improved your flexibility, you’ll be ready to get back in the saddle and pedal better than ever.
Develop muscular strength
For cyclists, it is particularly important to work on strengthening the trunk muscles. A key area that is the starting point for many movements, a strong trunk allows for better alignment of the spinal column, which leads to better posture on your bike, even when fatigue sets in. Have you ever noticed that some cyclists lean to one side of their bike frame when going up an ascent? This is most likely because their trunk is not strong enough to achieve stability in the saddle. Yoga is an excellent way to improve your postural alignment and strengthen the trunk muscles, which allows you to adopt an aerodynamic position on your bike. Yoga also improves your balance by working your stabilizing muscles; which is helpful when you are on sections of the course that are narrow and fast.
Improve breath control
Competitive cyclists pay close attention to their V02 max level, which is the maximum flow of oxygen inhaled by the lungs and used by the muscles in a unit of time. Whether you are trying to beat your best time, explore different neighborhoods in your city or take on steep hills, having the capacity to breathe better will optimize your performance and allow for a faster and more controlled recuperation after effort. In addition, having a regular and fluid breathing pattern allows you to stay calm and have better control of your bike. By practicing yoga, you will develop good breathing techniques that will become automatic when you’re pedalling on your bike.
The breathing techniques learned through yoga can also help to improve your concentration skills. The more consistent your breathing pattern, the more alert you’ll be when riding your bike. This way, you can keep yourself and others safe.
Also, when you’re pushing yourself to maximum effort on your bike, you can relieve some of the burning sensations in your muscles simply by shifting your focus to your breath. This will take your cycling performance to the next level!
Doing yoga on your rest days
Ideally, you should use your rest days to do a routine that includes static stretches or a series of floor poses. You will feel the benefits in your whole body.
Try hatha yoga. This type of gentle yoga allows for deep stretching as you hold poses for multiple minutes.
You may also want to try hot yoga as it is easier to go deeper into your stretches when you are in a room that is heated between 38 and 40 ˚C. Drink lots of water before, during and after the class. Hydration is essential. Feel free to move at a slower pace, or to go into child’s pose for a while if you start feeling dizzy.
Those who would like to move at a faster pace may want to try ashtanga yoga, power yoga or kundalini. Again, it’s important to respect both your physical and mental limits during any type of yoga practice. Remember, the goal is to relax both your body and your mind.
*In keeping with our mission to make sport more accessible to all, this article was written by the Decathlon team in collaboration with YogaTribes as part of our unpaid partnership. To book yoga classes, please make sure to visit Decathlon Community and YogaTribes.