By definition yoga means connecting breath to movement. It's usually viewed as a sequence of poses but really it's the breath that links these poses that makes yoga so powerful. Yoga is an exercise for the body and mind that, when done correctly, can lead to greater strength, flexibility and focus. Athletes at all levels are incorporating yoga into their training programs to gain a competitive edge and prevent injury.
Practicing yoga after a ride can also benefit recovery by oxygenating the blood as our heart rates return to resting we can condition the muscular system and cardiovascular system all at once with a few minutes of conscious movement and breath awareness.
Cyclists will want to focus on yoga poses that incorporate leg strength, flexibility and lower back strength and we spend most of our time bent forward over the handlebars which can lead to tight hip flexors. Yoga also forces you to take deep and steady breaths which can help to train your muscles aerobically. Learning to control your breathing is also a very important aspect of training for endurance athletes.
Now, for most people an hour of yoga practice most days might not be practical but regular practice is really important if you want to achieve results. You will be happy to know that you don't need to put in a crazy amount of hours a week to achieve them.
Sun Salutation is the fundamental sequence for all yoga styles as it represents the basic, full-body opening. If you are new to yoga we suggest that you focus on proper alignment first before adding the breath and other postures. If you repeat this posture just five times a day it will impact your awareness of breath control, spinal alignment and muscle awareness. This sequence can be done before or after your ride and you will find that it will help with your power on the bike quickly when completed often.
Once you have perfected your Sun Salutation and incorporated the breath which each move you can move on to the poses below. These poses specifically help loosen out the muscles we use whilst cycling and you can find the perfect yoga flow over on YouTube with Yoga by Adriene.
- Cat-Cow pose
- Bridge Pose
- Down Dog to Low Lunge Twist
- Crescent Moon to Half Front Split
- Butterfly Pose