We all know that yoga offers a ton of health benefits through chill poses and breathing while cycling is more vigorous and mobile. However, while these two seem like opposites, they do complement each other in various different ways.
Read on below for the reasons why should you combine yoga and cycling and how to make the most out of these two activities!
Yoga Benefits for Cyclists
There are many great benefits that the perfect match of yoga and cycling can offer for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Here are just some of them:
- It helps to stretch and soothe your muscles.
- It boosts your energy levels.
- It helps prolong your time on the saddle and makes it more comfortable.
- It hastens and helps in muscle restoration and recovery.
- It relieves stress and calms your mind.
- It helps manage pain.
- Cycling works the sympathetic nervous system of big muscles and yoga works on the parasympathetic system of smooth muscles for improved rest, breathing, and digestion.
- Yoga helps you practice diaphragmatic breathing for better lung health, capacity, and endurance
- Yoga strengthens the core and glutes to help you hold the proper forward-leaning cycling position longer
- Yoga trains the mind to stay more focused which helps avoid accidents while cycling
- Yoga helps develop muscle endurance and strength without adding bulk.
- Yoga allows you to get lateral movements as opposed to the linear movements of cycling that cause tension on the shoulders, hips, neck, knees, and other joints.
- It gives you an overall sense of well-being. After a nice combination of physical and mental exercise, you will feel even more accomplished, relaxed, and healthy. This combination allows you to enjoy life more, be more productive, and have a happier state of mind.
How to Use Yoga and Cycling Side-by-Side
While yoga, in general, is helpful for cyclists, there are certain yoga poses that offer specific benefits. Here are some of the ways that yoga can improve your cycling and make your body more suitable for biking:
1. Prolong your riding time.
When sitting on a bike, your vertebrae draw apart from each other to elongate the body. This happens vertically when you sit upright or horizontally if you lean forward closer to the handlebars or drops.
However, as your spine holds you up, the bones on your back get compressed over time. When this happens, you may feel pain or discomfort on your back. It can also increase your risk of acquiring bone problems and injuries as you age.
Yoga can help keep your spine loose, flexible, and long through these poses:
Also called the adho mukha svanasana pose, this is the downward-facing dog pose where your hands and feet are firmly planted on the floor while the rest of the body is lifted off it. Make sure that your elbows and knees are stretched as well as your back.
You can hold this pose as is for a few minutes or you can also try to gently move your hips from side to side or even pedal your feet.
Reclined Spinal Twist
This pose or movement stretches the back to restore the space between your vertebrae and improve your flexibility. This, in turn, helps you gain a wider range of motion and level of comfort. Just make sure to allow the twist to come from the center of your body.
2. Spread the hips
Another thing that regularly and repetitively cycling does (even if you have the best bike) is tightening the hip flexors. With tight hip flexors, you will easily get sore and tight muscles on the lower back. What you can do is stand on the pedals once in a while or bend your hips slightly on the sides.
Here are two yoga stretches that help balance your internal hip rotation, open the hips, and add external hip rotation:
The Easy Pose
Also known as sukhasana or the Indian sit, this is the most common yoga pose, which involves simply sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position. The Baddha Konasana is a variation of this where you put the feet together and hold them closer to the body to gently draw the knees outward and open the hips.
The Garudasana or Eagle pose requires a good inward rotation. It helps balance out the opposing muscle groups of the hips, improve your balance, and stretch out the upper back and calves.
3. Drop The Shoulders
Your shoulders tend to get strained and tight as you grip on the handlebars while you cycle. The goal of the following yoga pose is to draw the shoulder blades together, loosen the grip, and relax the shoulders:
So, why should you combine yoga and cycling? Well, this combination not only improves your strength and endurance for biking and other daily activities but also gives you peace of mind, stress relief, and relaxation. Go ahead and try them to experience the benefits yourself!
Emily is founder of BodyShape101.com, a blog where she and her associates talk about fitness, weight loss, and yoga. Their aim is to help people like you to achieve perfect body. BodyShape101 is concentrated on exercise & fitness tips, and making the most out of it. She is also a mother of one and she tries to find balance between her passion and her biggest joy in life.