With a series of dynamic stretches and poses (asanas), yoga offers a variety of benefits that can help improve your cycling.
Cyclists, here is a routine that is specially designed to help you recover after an outing on your bike. The primary goal of this routine is to relieve any back pain that may be caused by cycling.
Ideally, you should try to hold each pose for about 5-10 seconds to stretch your body, from your wrists to your ankles, including your neck, shoulders, hips and thighs.
Make sure to stretch both sides of your body and to repeat the poses if needed. This routine also allows you to work extensor and flexor group of muscles in your legs, including the fascia lata.
1. Butterfly (Bound angle)
In a seated position on the ground, bring the bottoms of your feet together, approximately 30 cm (12 in) away from your body. Place your hands on your ankles or your legs. While engaging your glutes, bring your knees closer to the ground on either side. With each expiration, bring your knees a little closer to the ground for a more intense stretch. Alternate holding this position and going a little deeper in accordance with the rhythm of your breath. Repeat 3-5 times.
o Stimulates your heartbeat and improves oxygenation through blood flow;
o Stretches your thighs and knees;
o Tones the back muscles;
o Softens the pelvic area and releases tension in the hips.
Do not do this pose if you have just finished eating, or if you have just finished an intense workout.
Stretch out on your back with your arms along the sides of your body, and your palms facing the floor. Bring your heels close to your buttocks. Keeping your knees aligned with your hips, push with your feet and arms into the floor in order to lift your pelvis and engage your glutes. Your shoulders should remain on the ground. Protect your neck by keeping your chin down. Repeat 3-5 times.
o Improves abdominal breathing;
o Stretches the back and the abdominals;
o Softens the knee joints;
o Improves overall flexibility.
If you have a back or shoulder injury, a sciatica issue or you are pregnant, avoid staying in this pose for too long, or simply do not do it.
Standing up on your knees, place your hands on your lower back with your fingers pointing towards the floor. Stretch your torso, push your pelvis towards the front and protect your lower back by keeping your abdominals engaged. Keep your head in line with your spine. Tuck in your tailbone and bring the scapulas closer together by pushing your shoulders towards the back. With the exhale, arch your back further and push your chest upwards. If you are able to, you can grab onto your ankles by leaning further backwards. Hold the position and then repeat it 3-5 times as needed.
o Stretches your thighs;
o Relaxes your chest and throat;
o Tones your abs;
o Deepens your breath.
Be careful doing this posture, or avoid it entirely, if you suffer from sciatica, a hernia or if you have recently had an operation on your stomach. Also, if you suffer from arthritis or osteoarthritis in your knees, hips, lower back or shoulders, it is best not to do this posture.
4. Cow face
In a seated position on your mat, cross one leg over the other one and let the bottoms of your feet rest on the ground. Bring your hands together behind your back and interlink your fingers with one arm above the other. If you have difficulty, use a strap (belt or piece of fabric) to help you bring your hands behind your back, as close as possible to one another.
Bring your scapula (shoulder blades) together by pushing your shoulders towards the back to open your chest and stretch your elbows in opposite directions, keeping your shoulders relaxed. Return to your starting position and then repeat the movement on the other side, crossing the other leg over and returning to the same position with your hands, with the other arm above). Repeat 3-5 times on each side.
o Regulates your heartbeat;
o Relieves the sensation of heaviness;
o Stretches the muscles in the back;
o Improves your concentration.
This posture should not require effort, and should not cause you any pain. It should feel relaxing. If you feel any pain, let go of the position. Always be conscious of what your body needs.
5. Downward facing dog
Start on all fours in tabletop position. Push your hips up towards the sky and stretch your arms and legs so that your body forms the shape of the letter “A”. Plant your hands firmly into the ground with your fingers spread out wide. Stretch out your spinal column by lifting your pelvis into the air and pushing your hands into the ground. Don’t forget to keep your shoulders relaxed and away from your ears. Push your heels towards the mat, but do not force this movement. Keep a light bend in your knees, if necessary, to keep your back long. If it feels comfortable, you can gently pedal your legs by bending your knees one after the other. Slowly return to your starting position on your hands and knees. Repeat this posture 3-5 times, or as needed.
o Energizes your whole body;
o Strengthens the muscles in your back, legs and thighs;
o Develops your lung capacity;
o Relaxes your fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, feet and ankles.
Be careful if you have high blood pressure and it seems to be out of control. Be careful, as well, if you are prone to getting headaches, diarrhea or if you have any cervical weakness or inflammation in the eyes, legs, ankles, knees, hips, wrists, arms or shoulders.
6. Twisted lizard
Go on all fours. Bring one knee forward and place your foot outside your hands. By pushing your body forward, let your other knee rest on the ground. Make sure that the knee that is forward stays behind your toes. Bring it forward if necessary. Lift your back foot towards the sky. With the hand on the same side as the leg that is forward, grab a hold of your ankle by twisting your trunk slightly. Place your other hand on the ground directly under your shoulder. Keep your back straight and your shoulders relaxed. Hold the pose, and then repeat on the other side. Repeat this movement 3-5 times for the best results.
o Stretches your thighs, back and shoulders;
o Works your balance and mobility;
o Relieved tension in your spinal column and your entire back;
o Works your concentration.
This posture offers an impressive release, both physically and mentally, but it is important to always be aware of your own limits. Move through the twists carefully if you have any digestive issues, if you are pregnant, or if you have recently had surgery on your abdomen.
7. Half splits
Start on your knees with your hands on the ground. Put one leg in front of you by passing your foot between your hands and placing your heel on the ground. Meanwhile, you can keep the knee of your other leg bent on the ground, then fold your body forward over the leg that is outstretched in front of you. For a deeper stretch, push your hips back and lower the hip on the side of the leg that is outstretched. Hold the position, then slowly return to your starting position. Repeat on the other side. Do this posture 3-5 times.
o Stretches the hamstrings;
o Relaxes the lumbar muscles, hips, legs, shoulders, elbows, wrists and fingers;
o Helps to stabilize blood pressure.
This posture is not recommended if you have sensitive knees. Otherwise, listen to your body and be aware of your own limits. One side of your body may be more flexible than the other; this is very normal. Respect your own limitations in order to avoid injury.
8. Seated figure 4
Start in a seated position on your mat, with your knees bent in front of you and your feet planted on the ground. Put your arms behind you and place your palms on the ground with your fingers pointing towards the back. Keep your arms straight and your neck aligned with your spine. Relax your shoulders and make sure they are not creeping up towards your ears; keep a slight bend in your elbows if needed. Place your right ankle on your left knee. Hold the position while keeping your entire body engaged. Return to the starting position, then repeat on the other side (left ankle on right knee). Repeat the pose 3-5 times as needed.
o Stretches your thighs, knees, and shoulders;
o Stimulates your external hip rotators;
o Relieves tension in the lumbar muscles.
There are very few restrictions for this pose; but you should always listen to your body and not force any movement that causes discomfort. Respect your limits.
This yoga routine will help you improve your cycling performance. Practicing a variety of different sports offers undeniable benefits for your overall fitness. Will you integrate this yoga practice into your daily routine? If you’d like to discover even more benefits of yoga that can help your cycling performance, why not sign up for an online yoga class?