I was watching a group of road cyclists out training this morning, what a great form of exercise! I have a long connection with cycling, my father was an Australian track champion and my God Father was an Olympic gold medalist. I was a fairly mediocre track cyclist as a teenager and have ridden bikes all my life although a bit out of practice of late.
As much as I love cycling on reflection I realize that its not a whole body experience like Yoga asana. The cyclists hamstrings and quads never rest, every pedal stroke shortens and tightens leg muscles. The very repetetive nature of cycling can lead to injury if not complimented with an appropriate cross training modality, Yoga asana is a perfect aid because of its impact on the whole body.
Cyclists tend to develop long and weak back muscles, weak abdominal muscles. Kyphosis and hyper extended necks due to their position on the bike. Basically they develop strong limbs and a weak torso. Some of the cyclists I work with struggle to hold basic strengthening asana for any period of time.
A properly structured Yoga asana program alleviates possible injuries caused by short and tight muscles through stretching the legs and hips. Strengthening torso muscles and the proper application of bandhas develops the explosive power required in cycling sprints. Practicing back bending asana help correct postural imbalances caused by being locked into a set position on the bike.
Regardless of the type of cycling practiced, track, road or mountain biking the one item common to all is focus. Competetive cyclists need to to be aware of their race tactics and winning visualisations, any road rider needs to be aware of the traffic and the mountain bikers are always checking out their terrain. Yoga offers various methods to aid focus and develop present moment awareness.
Yoga practice is a great adjunct to cycling. Whether your a serious competitor or cycling for fitness yoga will improve your riding, help aid your recovery and keep you injury free.
Peninsula Yoga develops yoga sessions specific to cycling and other sports.
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