Cycling is a sport that can give you a full body workout, and whether you’re recovering from a long ride or looking to elevate your ability to a new level, yoga can help compliment your days on the bike.
Both indoor and outdoor cycling works your glutes, hamstrings, quads, calves and core muscles. Yoga for cycling focuses on stretching and strengthening those muscles for better performance and faster recovery.
Keep in mind, alignment is the most important part of each pose. It’s more beneficial to hold each pose correctly than for a lengthy period of time. So, if you’re just starting out with yoga, take it easy on yourself, pay attention to how your body feels, and work on achieving the right alignment for each posture before you progress to longer holds.
The following are poses you can practice at home in the comfort of your own living room. For extra guidance and support, you can also try working with one of our online instructors at MyYogaTeacher.
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This simple exercise increases mobility in your spine and torso, and gives your core and lower back muscles a stretch — after miles on the bike it’s a welcome cool down.
Start with your hands and knees on the floor. Inhale and look up, lifting your chin and gently arching your back. As you exhale, drop your chin and look down toward your naval as you curl your spine forward. Continue this movement 5-10 times.
Downward Facing Dog efficiently stretches your calves and hamstrings, lengthening the muscles after long periods of contraction on the bike. It’s also a great position for stretching your lower back.
With your hands and knees on the floor, push your hips upward until you are balancing on your hands and feet, and your body resembles an inverted “v” shape. Reach your heels toward the floor, stretching your hamstrings and activating your thighs. Keep your head between your arms, lengthening your side-body as you stretch. Stay here for several breaths.
This is a pose that stretches and strengthens your muscles at the same time. While stretching your hips and core, Bridge pose strengthens your knees and quads.
Start by lying on your back with your knees bent. On your next exhale, tuck your chin and lift your hips, being careful not to allow your knees to splay outward. Interlace your fingers on the floor underneath you and lift your hips higher, while staying in the pose for 5-10 breaths.
Cycling requires a strong and healthy core. With regular practice of Plank pose, you’ll help your body endure long hours on the bike with decreased soreness.
Lie face down on your mat, and using your palms to push up from the floor, lift your body until you are balanced on your palms and the toes of your feet. In this pose, your body should be positioned in a straight line, with your gaze directed at the floor in front of you. Hold for a few breaths, or for 30-60 seconds if you are feeling strong in this pose.
Because cycling is so taxing for your legs, there is no such thing as too many leg stretching poses. Triangle stretches your hamstrings, glutes, hips and calves, as well as the sides of your torso.
From a standing position at the top of your mat, slowly move one foot back and position it parallel with the edge of your mat, and your other foot pointing forward in a wide-leg stance. Inhale and stretch out both your arms parallel to the ground. As you exhale, bend at your hip and place the fingertips of your forward-pointing arm at the outside of your forward-pointing foot. Rotate your torso and extend your back arm so that it is pointing straight up. Hold for 3-5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
Another great pose for deeply stretching your lower back, hamstrings and calves, Seated Forward Fold can also be adjusted if you have particularly tight hamstrings. If it feels too intense, try bending your knees and only lowering your torso halfway down.
Sit on your mat with your legs extended in front of you and your hands resting on your thighs. As you inhale, open your chest and straighten your spine. On your next exhale, bend at the waist, bringing your chest toward your thighs while maintaining a straight spine. Once you’ve lowered about halfway down, allow your spine to round and continue until your forehead touches your knees. Grasp your feet with your hands or you can hook your index and ring fingers around your big toes. Hold this pose for 1-2 minutes.
This is another pose that performs double-duty. It stretches your abdominal muscles while strengthening your back and shoulders for better endurance on the bike.
Lie face down on your mat, resting your forehead on your forearms and your legs stretched straight out behind you. With an inhale, extend your arms to your sides and lift your lower legs off the mat, keeping your upper legs (thighs and core) flat on the mat. Engage your glutes and press both of your legs together while holding them up. Hold this pose for 5-6 breaths.
After so many hours hunched over the bike, it’s important to practice a few stretches that bend your spine and torso in the opposite direction. Sphinx pose increases your spinal mobility and stretches your abdominal muscles.
Start by laying on your mat with your belly facing down. Place your palms on the floor next to you, with your elbows under your shoulders, gently lift your upper body. Your legs should be extended straight back behind you as you hold this pose that resembles the Egyptian Sphinx statue. Open your chest and keep your chin level with the floor, with your gaze facing forward. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes, or longer if you feel comfortable.
If you spend a lot of time on the bike, you might have tight hip abductor muscles. Fixed Angle pose, or commonly known as “Cobbler’s pose” stretches your hips and lower back muscles to relieve sore muscles after long rides.
Sit on your yoga mat with your knees bent and the soles of your feet pressed against each other. With your spine straight, press your hands behind you and gently open up your chest and tuck in your abdomen. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes.
Do you have sore glutes and hips after your rides? This simple stretch can relieve tight glutes and hip abductors.
Start by laying down with your back on the floor with both knees bent. Cross your right ankle over your left knee, resembling the shape of a figure four. Place your left hand around your left knee, and thread your right hand through the opening to clasp your hands together around your knee. Inhale, and as you exhale, pull your left knee toward your chest as far as you feel comfortable, and hold for 30-60 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
This pose also deeply stretches your quads and hip abductors. It’s also a great pose to release tension and de-stress.
Start in Downward Facing Dog. Lift your left leg up behind you, and swing it forward while lowering yourself to the mat. Your left leg should sit bent in front of you with your shin resting on the mat and your right leg extended behind you. With your palms on the floor at your sides for support, inhale and lift your chest. As you exhale, begin to bend forward, rounding your spine as your lower your torso over your left quad. Lower yourself as far as you feel capable, while keeping your hips squared toward the front of your mat. Once your forehead reaches the mat or an otherwise comfortable location, hold this pose for 2-3 minutes. Repeat on the other side.
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