Yoga & Expats: The benefits of yoga for cyclists

28 December 2012, by
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Yoga and cycling are a winning combination. They both work out our quadriceps, hamstrings, and glutes as well as our core abdominals muscles. Yoga and cycling also require a tremendous amount of concentration and focus.

However, if you’re not careful to maintain proper form, you can throw your hips off balance. Furthermore, hunching over the handlebars for a long bike ride can cause strain in the upper, middle and lower back.

I have worked with yoga students who are also "city cyclists" back in NYC, teaching them to use the practice of Vinyasa yoga to develop their connection with their breath to each movement and helping them to recall that connection as they pedal.

This breath makes pedalling stronger from the core region, enabling them to cycle longer while taking in oxygen more efficiently by developing a more steady, focused way of breathing.

I recommend that cyclists try the following styles of yoga with a certified instructor: Jivamukti, Bikram, and / or Asthanga. At some point, you will find a good fit. Whether you ride socially on the weekends with your friends or are practicing as a professional, your cycling will benefit significantly from this ancient practice.

There are many different styles of yoga. The yoga postures described here are from Jivamukti Yoga, one of the popular styles. It is a vigorous hatha yoga practice which provides an intense strength-building practice combined with flowing movements. Each one of these movements connects its corresponding inhale and exhale with a movement that creates a deeper stretch for the practitioner.

Benefits of yogic breathing & meditation
Certain breathing and meditation techniques are capable of transforming a basic ride or competitive race preparation into a moving meditation. "Pranayama" (Sanskrit for "breathing exercises"), practiced with "asana" (Sanskrit for "physical exercises"), brings you more awareness of your breath at all levels. This combination of breathing and movement also strengthens the body’s circulation, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems.

Yoga benefits for cyclists
 Increased lung capacity
 Improved posture
 Increased strength and flexibility, overall stamina
 Increased concentration
 Energised body and mind

Asanas
Start practicing these asanas after a ride while your body is still warmed up. Hold each asana for a few steady breaths, focusing on the deep inhale and even more on the complete exhale. However, come out slowly if there are any nerves being pinched or any pain which is intolerable.

Transition into and out of each asana with steady focus and awareness of each part of your body. Keep your inhale and exhale steady, smooth, and balanced. Slow the breath even more you’re finding it difficult to breathe. Always have compassion for your body and do not force it to do something it doesn’t want to do.

Pigeon pose - Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
A strong hip opener that relieves tension in the chest and in the shoulders while stimulating the internal organs and stretching the psoas muscle. Those who suffer from knee or ankle issues should seek the guidance of a certified yoga instructor.

Aimee Tanon Pranava Yoga Jivamukti Yoga
Photo by Jean-Philippe Boucicaut 

Aimee Tanon Pranava Yoga Jivamukti Yoga
Photo by Jean-Philippe Boucicaut 

Instructions:
 Start in Downward-Facing Dog, or on your hands and knees in a Table Pose
 Place your right knee between your hands
 Place your right ankle near your left wrist
 Extend your left leg behind you, with your kneecap and the top of your foot on the floor
 Press through fingertips as you lift your torso upward and away from your thigh
 Create length in the front side of your body
 Release your tailbone back towards your heels
 Exhale as you fold your upper body forward over your right shin
 Draw downward through the front shin
 Balance your weight evenly between your right and left hips
 Hold for 30 seconds, gradually increasing to one minute
 Inhale steadily, release and press through your hands to gently lift your torso off the mat
 Tuck your toes under, and push back to bring your hips towards your heels
 Straighten your legs into a Downward-Facing Dog, an upside down "V"
 Repeat on the other side
 You can also place a folded blanket under the hip of the front leg for extra support

Supine spinal twist - Jathara Parivartanasana
Twists are a great way to release the back of any stress and frustrations from day to day issues that come up. Twists are also the body’s natural way to detoxify and stimulate the internal organs in the upper body.

Instructions:
 Put down a blanket or yoga mat on the floor
 Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat or blanket.
 Extend your arms to the side in the shape of a T; keep your shoulder blades on the floor
 Inhale as you lift your bent knees about 1 ft above the floor
 Exhale slowly as you drop your knees to the left, turning your head gently to the right at the same time
 Close your eyes, keeping your shoulder blades pressed towards the mat, away from ears.
 Inhale as you relax your shoulders back towards the mat
 Exhale as you drop your knees closer to the mat (gravity will help here)
 Hold for 5 deep inhalations and 5 steady, complete exhalations
 Inhale as you gently lift your knees back to the centre
 Exhale as you gently bring your legs to the right, turning your head to gently to the left at the same time
 Inhale as you relax your shoulders back towards the mat
 Exhale as you drop your knees closer to the mat (again, gravity will help here)
 Hold for 5 deep inhalations and 5 steady, complete exhalations
 Inhale as you gently lift your knees back to the centre
 Wrap your arms around your knees and pull them to your chest
 Exhale as you extend your legs along the floor

Yoga complements cycling in many ways. Hope you find the above interesting and above all, useful!


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About the Author
C
Aimée Tañón

My name is Aimée, I am Integrative Yoga Therapist, Certified under Yoga Alliance US+UK and a Holist...

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