yoga for cyclists03 July, 2013 0 comments
Yoga for cyclists
You might be thinking how on earth yoga – a workout vastly different from cycling – might have a place in your workout schedule. However, yoga has more to do with cycling than you might think precisely because it is different. It offers a workout that is beneficial for cyclists, preparing you in ways that cannot be done through cycling training alone. This is why it is a great option for cross-training, and more and more elite cyclists are turning to yoga to improve their performance.
In New York there is even a gym that combines the two workouts under one roof. As its founders claim, the two seem like a natural pair, as cyclists have notoriously tight hips and hunched shoulders. There is far more to yoga than undoing these problems, however. Below are presented the main reasons why yoga can benefit cyclists, followed by recommendations on which yoga class to choose – read on!
Yoga can help to prevent injuries
Firstly, there is a lot of focus on stretching in yoga. This can help as it gets rid of the above-mentioned stiffness so common among cyclists. More than that, regular stretching makes it less likely that overuse injuries, stiffness and pain emerge after a cycling workout at all. Now, where yoga surpasses regular stretching is in its thoroughness. While cyclists would usually stretch their hamstrings, quads, glutes, and perhaps their back, a yoga class might take you through a variety of stretches that work the whole body, keeping tensions from building up.
Yoga does wonders to your core
A strong core is a cyclist’s best friend, since it helps to maintain stability during both long and intense rides. Without a strong core, you will get wobbly fast, while a strong core keeps you efficient during the ride. In a yoga class, you will be focusing on your posture at all times, and activating your core is an important part of that. When you are holding different poses, your core will be doing the work of keeping you stable – which is the same thing it needs to do when you cycle, only that cycling is a bad way for actually training your core.
Yoga can strengthen the essential muscles for cyclists
When you are practicing a strong type of yoga, it can get quite challenging for your muscles. Many poses and routines are directed to the muscles used the most in cycling – your hamstrings, quads, glutes. As opposed to exercises done on gym machines, these poses do not isolate muscles and thus function as comprehensive and functional strength training. Additionally, various poses can work on smaller muscles that support your cycling effort, but aren’t trained during conventional strength training.
Yoga teaches good breathing
Deep and controlled breathing makes you more energy efficient when cycling. Especially if you’re a competitive cyclist, you might want to look into exercises that focus on breathing. In yoga, all movements are coordinated with deep breathing, so you have to be aware of it at all times. Eventually, this type of breathing will become more natural, and you will be able to transfer its benefits onto the cycling track.
Yoga helps to relax and concentrate
In a yoga class, you will be asked to be fully aware of your body and what it is doing. At the same time, you are encouraged to let go of troubles, and loosen up any unnecessary stiffness in your body. The good feeling and abilities this gives you can be useful while you’re on the bike. Especially, yoga practice can help you keep your calm in a race situation, while you have clarity in your focus to give maximum effort.
Which style should you choose?
There are countless styles of yoga available these days, and while yoga centres tend to offer a variety of traditional styles, gym classes may provide more fitness-oriented workouts. Therefore, you should pick a class depending on your needs and interests. Here are some of the names you might encounter.
Ashtanga – a physically demanding and fast practice that always follows the same order of poses.
Hatha – a slow and strong practice that also incorporates lots of stretching
Iyengar – a slow and strong practice that focuses on attaining proper postures
Bikram – a slow and sweaty practice that follows a series of 26 poses in a heated room
Vinyasa – a movement-intense practice that offers lots of variety
Even if you think yoga isn’t for you (or that it isn’t for a cyclist like you!), go try out a class just once. Pick one that might be more your style, and see how it feels at the end of the class, and when you mount your bicycle the next time around. You might just find a beneficial and enjoyable cross-training workout for yourself!
Will you try yoga or are you perhaps already going to classes? Share your thoughts in the comments!