STRENGTHEN, STRETCH & RECOVER - YOGA FOR CYCLINGBack
Posted by Holly McLoughlin (Yoga Holly) on 05 Jan 2018
Yoga is fast becoming the secret weapon of cyclists…
Yoga and cycling are two sports that would normally never meet, but embracing your inner yogi is fast becoming the secret weapon of many cyclists. Used by professional teams and riders including Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins and pro mountain biker and Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, it can vastly improve your experience on the bike, both in terms of physical performance and mental agility.
For many cyclists tight hamstrings and hips are common, along with complaints of aching shoulders and stiffness after long rides. It’s not enough to just take a recovery shake, do a little stretching and then let your body do its thing – where yoga excels is in its thoroughness. It stretches the major muscle groups and strengthens in a way that balances power and posture alignment throughout the body. It also removes toxins from the blood and stimulates tissue regeneration.
Cross training with yoga encourages lengthening of ligaments and supple muscles, for the crucial flexibility cyclists need. The physical benefits will allow you to comfortably get the most aerodynamic benefit from your position on the bike. Leaving you to focus on improving your power to weight ratio, to blow away the competition from a position of comfort.
The mental advantage, or in the words of Wiggins, ‘keeping the chimp in the cage’ is less talked about. Yoga challenges you to go outside your comfort zone. It develops determination and self discipline. Also providing methods for reducing performance anxiety for before a race and relaxation for afterwards. This awareness of the body and its limits will help you push yourself both on the bike and on the yoga mat.
You don’t need to rely on EPO or Salbutamol to increase your performance...
Yoga is naturally performance enhancing. Research shows six weeks of yoga gives significant increase in aerobic power. Breathing techniques help maximise oxygen use, and maintain a healthy blood composition with all those twisting yoga postures – they’re not just all about looking like a yoga pro, they work out your insides too!
Whilst yoga may not be the most competitive of sports, your competitive nature will motivate you to improve. This nature encourages us to probe our limits and maximise the benefits of even the most relaxing routines – be prepared to brag about how you were much more relaxed than your clubmates!