Yoga and bike: the perfect combo for cyclists

Homme sportif faisant du yoga

The benefits of cycling on the body are many. First of all, cycling provides an excellent cardiovascular workout. It also improves blood flow, keeps up respiration and breath, and strengthens muscles and bones. However, after a long bike ride, some parts of the body may have accumulated tension. The repetitive movements linked to cycling can create imbalances and sometimes cause injuries or pain. Do your shoulders feel stiff? Pain in your lower back? Do you feel that you will surely have sore glutes and quadriceps? To avoid these pains, yoga might be the solution.

But what is yoga?

A healthy mind in a healthy body. This is the principle of yoga. The term “yoga” means “union”. The objective of this practice is to unite body and mind through a series of postures. Yoga is more than just a stretching exercise. The benefits of yoga are of three types: physical, spiritual and psychological. The main advantage of yoga is that it does not require a lot of equipment and can be practiced anywhere.

Yoga to improve strength and endurance

Contrary to what is often heard, the virtues of yoga are numerous, they are not limited to meditation.

First of all, from a physical point of view, yoga helps strengthen the spine and reduce injuries. It also allows you to have better balance and build muscle. Indeed, when you ride, you adopt a stooped position: the muscles of the back and spine suffer. Thanks to yoga, back and neck pain will decrease and disappear.

Yoga also boosts blood flow and improves the functioning of several systems such as the lymphatic or digestive system. It also reduces stress and anxiety.

Finally, breathing is one of the most important elements in yoga. It is essential to understand and “know” how to breathe. This will therefore be beneficial to the cyclist during difficult climbs or time trials.

For best results, regular yoga practice is recommended: a few minutes a day can make a difference. Certain yoga postures make it possible to strengthen the muscles used during cycling and to make the body more flexible, which helps prevent injuries.

Hommes postures de yoga

Yoga practice before getting on your bike

Practicing yoga before a bike ride will warm up the muscles. It is a very good warm-up method, very different from traditional warm-ups.

Yoga after a bike ride

After a bike ride, yoga helps release muscle tension built up while riding. It also makes it possible to stretch and relax the muscles and therefore to avoid sore muscles.

The practice of some yoga exercises will serve as counter postures to those you have on your bike. These few yoga postures will allow you to rebalance your upper body. These exercises will have the advantage of opening the collarbones and chest, raising the sternum (in order to leave more room for the heart and lungs which are compressed with your posture on your bike), to relax the upper back and to relieve the dorsals and to rest the head and neck muscles.

How to start yoga?

If surely the best way to start yoga is to consult a teacher and take classes in a yoga studio, know that you can also start with yoga sessions for beginners at home, which you can find on the internet. In all cases, you must first acquire the basics of yoga and favor yoga sessions for beginners.

It is highly recommended to go gradually. When you feel ready, you can switch to “special cycling” sessions. You can find many of them on video platforms. When you are comfortable with the postures, you can even practice alone, without a video guide.

Some simple yoga postures to perform alongside cycling

Downward-facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana

Get on the floor on your hands and knees. The hands are laid flat on the ground, shoulder width apart. The feet are spread to the sides of the hips, aligned with the hands. Tiptoe and gently push the pelvis to the sky. Extend your spine and try to keep your feet flat. Look at your belly and breathe deeply.

This posture does a lot of good for the back and helps to  improve flexibility in the legs, perfect for cyclists!

Child Pose or Shishuasana

Bend the legs under the buttocks and drop the chest on the knees. The head touches the ground and the arms are alongside your body. Breathe with your stomach, keep your shoulders away from your ears.

This posture allows you to relax and stretch your back. It is a perfect exercise before or after cycling.

Posture du chien tête en bas et de l'enfant

Standing Forward Bend or Uttanasana

Start standing, feet hip-width apart. While exhaling wind your spine toward the floor. Let your hands and your head hang . If you wish, you can grab your elbows with your hands. If the position is too difficult, bend your knees and place your chest on your thighs. Then slowly unwind your spine to return to the standing position.

This position allows you to stretch the hamstrings.

Upward Facing Dog or Urdhva-Mukha-Svanâsana

Start in the plank position, hand below the shoulders. Bend your arms under the rib cage. Exhale and raise your chest to the sky and stretch your head. Keep your legs flat on the ground. Look slightly to the sky. Hold the posture for a few deep breaths.

This posture helps stretch the back muscles.

Posture du chien inversé et de la cygogne

Butterfly Pose or Badhakonasana

Sit with your legs spread straight out. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet against each other. Grab your toes and bring your feet closer to your body. Keep your spine straight. Flap both legs up and down like the wings of a butterfly.

This posture helps tone the back muscles and improve flexibility in the pelvis region.

Spinal Twist Pose or Vakrasana

You sit and bend one leg to place your foot against your buttocks. Place the other foot in front of the knee of the leg you have bent. You place one hand flat on the floor behind you and the other on your knee in front of you. Align the shoulders with the legs by rotating your hips and looking behind you.

By holding this posture, you improve flexibility of the spine.

Practicing yoga is easy and accessible. A 45 minute session per week may suffice. You can also choose to spread the sessions and do three 15 minute sessions per week to start.
Find all our tips for cycling and bike touring on our blog.