Cycling is certainly one of the most favoured pastimes in Harrogate (well, apart from yoga of course!) And, it’s no surprise really, with all the wonderful speedy cross-country loops and challenging Dales routes to explore.
If you are a member of the cycle-crazy clan, then it’s likely you might suffer from repetitive aches and pains that are associated with the sport. It’s important that you seek professional help to have your bike adjusted to you as often you can prevent injuries, however, if you are suffering from bike-associated aches, then a spot of yoga could really help to ease things. Not only that, but yoga could also boost your cycling technique and overall performance when practised regularly alongside your training.
Let’s explore some ways that yoga could really benefit you as a keen cyclist…
Practising your connection to your breath is one of the key elements to yoga. Without breath control, you will not get the best out of your yoga sessions. Similarly, cyclists must also learn to master breathe control as this will greatly help their performance and concentration on the bike, too.
Sun Salutations are a simple sequence that can be practised easily and repetitively and are a great way to learn to connect breath to movement. Once you master each posture and correct your alignment, you can get into a rhythm and simultaneously begin to connect each inhale and exhale to each individual movement within the flow. Sun Salutations are a fabulous moving meditation to calm your mind and create focus – try practicing a few rounds before your rides and begin to notice the benefits.
Attending a yoga session straight after a ride could really benefit your recovery. As your heart rate returns to resting, yoga gives you the opportunity to oxygenate your blood, which helps to condition your muscular system and cardiovascular system simultaneously.
Downward Facing Dog helps to stretch out the shoulders, hamstrings, calves and arches, so will be a very useful pose to have in your post-ride yoga bank. If you are very stiff and tight, then you can keep a slight softness in the knees but should still feel that glorious stretch in the back of your thighs.
Seated Pigeon Pose and Butterfly Pose are also great recovery poses as they give the inner thighs, groin and knees space to open out, but always be careful to go into these poses mindfully, being kind to your knees and paying attention to your breath as you move into them. Also, soften your shoulders here to unlock storage of tension and stress held there.
A bad posture on your bike can wreak havoc on your spinal health. In fact, lower back pain is one of the most common complaints of cyclists in general. The degree to which you are bent forward in the saddle can affect your spinal alignment, as well as how far your knees move out to the sides when peddling too. As you become more and more tired on your ride, it’s common that your posture will worsen by the minute. Therefore, strengthening your core and your lower back is crucial to avoid nasty injuries and post-ride pain.
Practising regular plank (high arm or forearm versions) in your yoga practice offers a way to engage your core muscles as well as work on lower spine alignment. Ensure you keep your hips in a straight line with your legs apart as you move into your plank and draw your belly button up to your spine to engage your core. Keep your breath flowing in through the nose and out through the nose for the duration of your plank. Start with a hold of 30 seconds and gradually increase your time as you begin to build strength.