Yoga for Cyclists – Q&A Part II

yogaThis Wednesday marks the last yoga class of our six-week winter series. The class has been geared towards active people who are generally new to yoga with special attention on the places cyclists need more strength and flexibility.

This week on the blog we’ll be posting some yoga for cyclists Q&A based on recent inquiries from students. If you have any of your own questions or want to sign up for the last class on 2/19, email kristen@bicyclehabitat.com.

“My neck and shoulders get sore during long rides. Can yoga help this?”

Yes! The postural alignment taught in yoga and good cycling form both focus on keeping the spine long and straight. This takes a combination of strength and flexibility. Poses like Dolphin (fig. 1) strengthen the shoulder girdle and make it easier for you to hold yourself on your bike without hunching. Sphinx (fig. 2), Cobra (fig. 3), and other backbends performed on the belly are great for adding flexibility to the lumbar region. Downward Dog (fig. 4) stretches the upper back and shoulders.

Beyond strength and flexibility, there is an additional factor: your bike. How your bike fits you has everything to do with your ability to ride comfortably with good form. All the yoga in the world won’t make up for a bike that is set up poorly for your body. Yoga can help us train our bodies off the bike, which we then apply to our riding. An experienced bike fit professional can make sure your bike is set up to reflect your improved cycling posture.

Good cycling form = strength + stability + flexibility + bike fit.  Here are examples of the yoga poses that can help, demonstrated by Karen in our Soho shop.

Dolphin pose (fig. 1):

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Fig. 1: Dolphin pose
Develops shoulder, upper back, and upper arm stability

Place your forearms on the floor shoulder distance apart, then lift your hips up. Keep looking forward. Hold for 30 seconds, then build up to a minute. Rest and repeat up to three times. When you feel ready, try lifting one leg at a time up towards the ceiling as a fun variation.

Sphinx/cobra (fig. 2 and 3):

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Fig. 2 and 3: Sphinx/Cobra
Restores the lumbar curve in the spine.

Lie on your belly with your feet together and prop yourself up on your forearms shoulder distance apart. Relax your pelvis into the floor and work to pull your chest through your arms. Look forward or slightly up and hold up to one minute, rest, and repeat.

For a deeper backbend, leave your lower body in place and begin to straighten your arms for Cobra.

Down dog variation with bent knees (fig. 4):

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Fig. 4: Down dog variation with bent knees
Stretches open the shoulders.

Start on hands and knees with hands under shoulders and knees under hips. Lift your hips up in the air and bend the knees. Working your heels towards the floor is great for stretching the calves, but more important for riding form is to open the upper back and shoulders. Bend the knees as much as you need to and try to bring your head to the floor to increase the shoulder stretch.

Yoga with Kristen is this Wednesday, February 19 at 7:30pm in Soho. 

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New York City's neighborhood bike store since 1978
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