Yoga for cyclists

Cycling on a sunny spring day is a wonderful feeling. Wind in your hair, sun on your face, gentle purr of chain and cogs and so on. Shame, then, that sunny spring days are a thing of the past. Should they turn up at any point though, you want to be ready with that bike and limber with those legs. I can’t really help you with the bike, although if you want to come hang out at the park near my house you can share mine and we could set up some sweet jumps or something. Just an idea.

If you already do loads of cycling, then you’ll be familiar with the tight hamstrings, sore lower back, achey quads and pinching calves that come after a hard ten minute ride to the shops. Fear not, though: the sequence below is designed to counter all that hunching you do in the saddle. Give those legs, hips, lower back and shoulders as much attention as you give to the fixie project, and you’ll be rolling for years to come.

First things first. Find a suitable backdrop for your transformational yoga routine. I chose the Ochils on a cycle from Stirling to Culross, but any old set of mountains will do. If you don’t have Scotland outside your house, then you’ll have to make do with finding your inner mountains or something. You know the ones: the Himalayas of the heart and the Pyrenees of the pancreas and so on. You get the idea.

Ready? Right then, on yer bike!

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Warrior 3 makes perfect sense here.

 Hold up. We always say that yoga’s not about how you look, it’s about how you feel, but there are limits. Featherlite helmets, windproof gloves, technical jackets, and performance eyewear off, please. Oh and you can leave the bike out of this one, too. Cycling shorts can stay, as long as you call them ‘enlightenment shorts’ and look serious while you’re about it.

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Ok so it was a bit chilly to take all the high performance gear off. Plus it’s rather fetching.

You should be warm enough from cycling, but if not then bosh out a few sun salutes on the verge and then dive straight into these beauties:

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Got those down? Take five breaths in each, do each side, and then REPEAT if you want more. Then get back on the bike (via a casual utthita padangusthasana) and pedal off into the hills of awakening, or head home.

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Make sure you take care of yourself after such an epic journey. Roll out your mat and say hi to you thighs:

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And hamstrings:

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And if pedalling all day has left you unable to do anything else, you can get it out of your system by doing this for as long as feels necessary:

Bicycle crunches

Bicycle crunches! I like to do them for hours on end. Just watch me go. Ok so it’s not really yoga,  but your lower back will thank you for the strong core you’re building. And if you do them nice and slow in time with big inhales and exhales, then it just about counts.

You should be familiar with where your abs are after that one, which is great because because you’ll need them for this:

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Camel pose. Focus on pressing the hips forward and opening out the chest and shoulders. It should feel pretty exhilirating after holding the handle bars all day. Oh and if you’re in cycling, sorry, enlightenment shorts, be aware that they will want to add camel toe to your camel pose at the first opportunity. Just giving you the heads up on that one.

Aaaaand moving on. Lets get into the glutes, hips, and lower back:

2013-05-06 08.42.44 HDRThis one combines deep stretches in the quad and hamstring. Be careful of the bent knee. You can sit on a block or the Yellow Pages to ease the pressure on the knee. If you don’t have Yellow Pages, use War and Peace instead. If you don’t have War and Peace, who are you anyway? You could tie all those issues of OK and Heat together, I guess.

Next up:

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Pigeon. If you do just one of the poses in this post, it should be this one. Get into it and you’ll see what I mean. Bradley Wiggins if you’re reading (he probably is, btw), then this is what’ll win the Giro for you. Then sit up, swing your leg over and spin into this one:

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Ardha Matsyendrasana, which is sanskrit for ‘Awesome for lower backs’. Lie down. You’re nearly there.

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Supta padangusthasana. Get hold of your big toe and show the leg some love. If the big toe isn’t reachable, use a strap, belt, or an old inner tube:

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If you don’t know what an inner tube is, stop paying for people to repair your punctures, yo.

Do both sides, then settle into savasana with knees bent. Bending the knees will give your hunchy low back some breathing space:

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Then plan your next adventure. Maybe also plan the wardrobe a little better than I did, yeah?

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Copyright © 2013 Galen O’Hanlon.

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