What is Yoga?
The practice of yoga, though thousands of years old, has seen a surge in popularity over the last few years, in part because it is a great way to exercise the body and mind without the added risk of injury. Yoga is all about the poses – most people think of it as a form of exercise. It is actually more than just that. Yoga does, involves physical activity, but it is also about working on breathing techniques, and finally about gaining awareness or the much larger picture.
Yoga is an excellent way to relax and let go of the tension in the body. Stress can have a tremendous effect on the body, and this is especially true for cyclists. The more time you spend in the saddle, the harder you are going to crash when you fall. So relax and enjoy the view.
Hatha yoga, which consists of physical postures (asana), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation (dhyan) is recognized as an excellent practice for cyclists.
Cyclists practice a sport that requires a lot of stamina, flexibility and strength. For that reason, the physical routine in the flow of the yoga practice, each and every asana, may help them boost their training, increase their strength, and improve their flexibility.
For centuries, it has been believed that yoga reduces the activity of mind and body, relieves stress, and induces relaxation which is responsible for having a positive effect on overall health.
Hatha yoga is recommended to the people suffering from spinal strain, back pain, low energy levels, acute stress, and depression. It is claimed that this practice connects the body, mind and psyche, tunes the senses, relieves stress and induces a state of mind that aids in the healing process.
Hatha Yoga Takes Steadiness and Balance To A Whole New Level
Cyclists practice yoga after a long ride or a workout during a season to maintain and strengthen the body. It increases balancing and stability, positively influence leg muscle endurance, and encourage digestion of the legs.
Recently, I took a 3-day yoga and meditation retreat in South Carolina. Iyengar Yoga is one of the many types of yoga that I practice, but it was quite the adventure for me. I knew going into the retreat that I would be asked to learn poses and positions that I had never learned before, but my practice was rusty so I was a bit concerned that my body wouldn’t respond as it should.
Yoga is a fantastic way to improve fitness and flexibility for cyclists and can help you to cycle more efficiently. Choosing a yoga style that’s more suitable for athletes can help you to reach that next level. Vinyasa Yoga for Cyclists is an athletic style of hot yoga that combines dynamic sequences of postures moving with the breath to improve balance, strength, and flexibility for your cycling.
Yoga Strengthens Your Core Muscles
The core is the most important aspect of cycling. Cycling requires balance and stability as well as a strong core to manage intense pressure. The core muscles work as one single unit to support all movements of the cyclist. Flexibility and strength of the lower back, hips, and stomach muscles are essential for staying safe while cycling. They allow you to maintain a safe posture while descending, cornering, and leaning against the wind. Yoga strengthens and lengthens your core muscles in a safe way that translates to even better performance while cycling.
It Increases Flexibility
Most Bikram yoga practitioners are surprised to find out that there is a group of Bikram Bicyclists that meets in a local studio in a variety of cities across the country. Yes, yoga and bicycling are complimentary forms of exercise… and it just so happens that Bikram yoga is the type of yoga that is practiced in heat. Done in a temperature-regulated room from 95-99˚, followed by a cool down and light stretching, Bikram yoga strengthens, stretches, and improves flexibility while uniting mind and body.
Here are five reasons why bikram yoga and cycling make for a great duo:
- Bikram Yoga Will Make Your Cycling Stronger- People who ride bicycles athletically will often reach a plateau in their performance. In order to break through that plateau, you need to incorporate some kind of strength training into your cycling regimen. Bikram yoga will give you a boost in your performance because you will notice an increased strength and stamina in your cycling.
- You Can Do Bikram Yoga on the Weekend- Bikram Yoga classes occur at the same time each and every week. No fluctuation in schedule! What does that mean? You can plan your schedule around your Bikram Yoga class! No canceling sessions to fit in a swim, run, or bike ride.
According to ancient physiologists, the body is designed in such a way as to receive benefits from every pose. Much of the stress that builds up in our busy schedules seems to find its way into our tight, sore muscles and locked joints, creating the perfect environment for stiffness, inflammation, and stress-related conditions like headaches or sleeplessness.
Restorative yoga helps to restore and relax the muscles that work most in our daily lives, and also helps to stretch our busy minds out of their stress-laden focus and into a meditative awareness. This is why restorative yoga, with its focus on performing one pose for long periods of time, is becoming increasingly popular with athletes and those who do a lot of sport-related activity.
Restorative Postures for Cyclists
But this form of yoga, though more than a thousand years old, is only recently being dis-covered by modern Western athletes. Cyclists, in particular, are discovering how this ancient practice can help to restore the body in a way that goes beyond the effects of a simple bike ride.
It Helps to Heal
Cyclists who regularly practice yoga find that they heal more quickly from injuries, and that they are more likely to avoid injuries altogether.
It Increases Stamina
How Can Yoga Improve Cycling
Most cyclists are not aware that doing yoga can improve your cycling. This kind of stretching can help you ride faster, longer and with greatly reduced back pain.
Yoga is an ancient practice that originated thousands of years ago in India. It is an exercise of the body and the mind. It also incorporates breathing and relaxation. Yoga increases flexibility and strength.
In fact, you need not even be a dedicated cyclist to try out yoga. It can be used for people of all ages and all fitness levels. It can even be done by those who aren’t athletic at all. Anyone can benefit from this ancient practice.
Yoga is known to give many people a new lease on life. Many who practice it report they have better concentration, more energy and less stress. Many people who have practiced yoga for many years say that staying active and fit is easy because their bodies are supple and strong.
There are many ways to practice yoga. One of the most popular ways is the dynamic form of yoga. This form of yoga involves using a series of movements and stretches that flow to create a complete yoga routine. This form of yoga is generally done with light weights.
Improve Core Strength
Yoga may look very easy and serene from the outside, but it poses many challenges to your body. Your body has to work hard to do many complex and coordinated actions like deep stretching, balancing, inversion, hatha (physical strength), pranayama, working with blocks and more. Flexibility and mental toughness are also gained after consistent practice.
The best way to get better at your sport is to train like a professional. And the way pros do that is to take time off their bike to go to the gym and strengthen their bodies' weaknesses.
While this may seem like blasphemy to many cyclists, doing yoga can have an enormous impact on your ability to climb hills faster and easier. Taking time off from your bike and doing yoga can improve your overall strength and conditioning.
Improves Body Awareness
When practicing yoga exercises, you become more aware of the way your body feels and moves. You also develop a sense of control over your body by learning how to control and direct your energy flow. This makes it possible to recover faster after an accident or heavy workout, and it can also improve your overall performance.
Helps with Injury
There are several ways that yoga can help with injury. Yoga is low impact and it helps your entire body relax. It can also help you to become more aware of how your body feels and develops the skill to direct your energy flow to those areas where you may be injured without aggravating that injury.
A Better Mindset
People who engage in yoga more frequently tend to be less stressed and more focused on the moment. This can also have a positive effect on someone's overall performance on their bike. Yoga can also help a distracted cyclist focus more on the road ahead.
As a cyclist, there is plenty of pressure on your body already! Panting during a ride, pedaling with your thighs and pushing on your pedals with your calves all put strain on the body.
When uncomfortable pain starts to become a regular aspect of your cycling routine, it can only mean one of two things. You’re not breathing properly or your muscles are not getting the necessary support, causing unnecessary strain.
Yoga can give you the necessary strength to ride and support your body with a cool and peaceful mind, leaving you no room to focus on anything other than your ride.
As much as we may want to, not all of us can brave the multiple layers of winter clothing and go out for a good ride early in the morning.
In these cases, it pays to practice yoga to strengthen those tired muscles and avoid injury.
Good muscle health is crucial to avoid injury and build a strong base for a prolonged cycling career.
Increases Endurance and Stamina
Thinking about a cycling trip or a marathon? Yoga will not only help you maintain good physical attributes, but also keep your cycling sessions fun.
We’ve all heard the positive effects of meditation … reduced stress, increased concentration and a positive outlook.
So, embrace meditation as part of your daily routine.
And Endurance:Yoga often involves a Vinyasa flow, or a sequential linking of poses in order to keep the body moving. This helps create more range of motion and flexibility because it becomes easier to move into more extreme poses without crashing into a wall or floor. It also brings more fluidity to the entire yoga session because there is less stiffness and less chance of injuring yourself.
Calmness and Focus:Cycling can be a very mentally and physically demanding sport, and practicing yoga can help you stay calm and focused throughout the session. Yoga relies heavily on breathing techniques and control, and a distracted mind can be detrimental to a cyclist.
Bike will be your new best friend:Yoga is a fantastic way to encourage you to hold a challenging pose for longer and to extend your lung power. It also works to engage the muscles of the arms, hamstrings, and back, in order to hold the pose for longer. Yoga can encourage and strengthen more muscles in the body, which can have an impact on the endurance and strength of a cyclist’s performance.
Improve core strength:Cycling is a sport which significantly increases the strength of a cyclist’s core muscles. These strength gains can easily be maintained through regular yoga practices with additional core strengthening workouts. Yoga can be just as exciting to a cyclist as biking is to a yogi.
Doing yoga before you go cycling will help to warm up your muscles, reduce stiffness, and improve your range of motion.
Every cyclist knows that it’s important to build up your core and hip muscles in order to improve your pedalling technique, but they might not be familiar with the importance of working on their flexibility.
Yoga is a great way to build up those muscles. The movements you’ll be making during yoga will be similar to those that you make while cycling, but the muscle groups will be different.
- Build Up Arm, Leg, and Core Strength
- Reduce the Risk of Injury
- Reduce and Manage stiffness and soreness
- Stay limber
Pro Cyclists Known for Practicing Practice Yoga
There are many reasons why Yoga is great both for experienced cyclists and people who just started cycling. Here are the top 5.
Improved Cycling Posture
Many cyclists spend the majority of their hours in an awkward body position. Cyclists have a forward hunch that leans their upper body forward and reduces the length of their spine. This can be improved through practicing Yoga poses like the Cobra and Downward Facing Dog. Cobra helps to open the hips, while extending the back. Downward Facing Dog simulates a cyclist’s position while cycling in the aero position. Yoga poses such as Child’s Pose, Warrior III and Standing Split can improve the reach of cyclist’s arms and legs helping with sprinting.
Improved Range of Motion
Cyclists typically have a limited range of mobility in their shoulders and hips. Both can be improved through practice of the Cobra, Overhead, and Downward Facing Dog Postures. The cobra pose stretches the upper shoulders as well as the chest while the overhead and downward facing dog stretches the spine as well.
Many cyclists have tight hamstrings and psoas muscles. The hamstring flexibility can be greatly improved with hamstring stretches and the psoas with hip openers like triangle, half moon and warrior III poses. Both of these make cycling much more comfortable and efficient.