Strengthen and Relieve Tension: 10 Best Yoga Poses for Cyclists from Strengthen and Relieve Tension: 10 Best Yoga Poses for Cyclists

Strengthen and Relieve Tension: 10 Best Yoga Poses for Cyclists

Cycling can be an intensive workout that puts pressure on important muscles of your body. Knowing how to relieve tension, strengthen specific areas, and increase flexibility are important elements to training. A great way to complement the rigorous training that comes along with cycling is yoga.

There are many specific yoga poses that can improve and complement your cycling workouts. So, to find out what postures the professionals practice we chatted with Jimmy Minardi, Founder of Minardi Training, former pro-cyclist, personal trainer, yoga teacher and creator of “Minardi Surfer Yoga” and Dempsey Marks, fitness trainer, yoga instructor and Founder of DempseyFIT.com who competes in triathlons, marathons and more.

Both experts use yoga in their everyday lives to strengthen and relieve tension for their muscles most used in cycling. “Incorporating yoga into your workout routine is a great way to improve your core, giving you overall body strength in very specific cycling muscle groups,” explains Minardi. “It also increases flexibility, stability and mobility, allowing for greater range of motion on a bike; but most importantly, it will keep you out of the injury bin.”

Whether you practice yoga frequently, or are just a beginner, these 10 yoga poses for cyclists are great complements to your two-wheeled training.

Bridge Pose

Dempsey Marks

How to do it:

Begin lying on your back, knees bent, feet on the floor.  Extend your arms along the floor, palms facing down.

Press your feet and palms into the floor.  

Inhale and lift your hips off the floor.

Roll your shoulders underneath you and interlace your fingers.

Keep your gaze upward and avoid moving your neck.

Press your heels down.

Engage your core.

Keep your thighs and feet parallel.

Hold for 6-8 breaths.

Why do it

Bridge pose opens up your chest and shoulders—which often become tight from upper body positioning on the bike.  It helps relieve tension in your back and upper neck.  It also stretches your hip flexors (notoriously tight for cyclists) and increases flexibility of the spine.

–Dempsey Marks

Cobra Pose

Dempsey Marks

How to do it:

Begin lying on your stomach with your hands under your shoulders.

Bring your legs together and press the tops of your feet into the ground. 

Inhale and lift your chest up.

Gaze straight ahead to keep your neck long. 

Pull your shoulders away from your ears.

Keep your elbows close into your ribcage. (Tip: There should be little to no weight in your hands. You should be using your back muscles to pull yourself up.) 

Hold for 6-8 breaths.

Why do it:

Cobra pose is great for strengthening your back muscles.  Since it is a backbend, it aids in opening your chest, shoulders, and abdomen which all tend to tighten up during cycling. 

–Dempsey Marks

Dolphin Pose

Dempsey Marks

How to do it:

Begin on your hands and knees, with your shoulders stacked above your wrists and your hips stacked above your knees.

Inhale.  Exhale, tuck your toes and send your hips up and back into Downward Facing Dog.

From Downward Facing Dog, lower your elbows to the ground.  

Keep your forearms parallel to each other.  

Engage your core.

Press your heels towards the ground.

Lengthen your spine.

Hold for 8-10 breaths.

Why do it: 

Dolphin pose strengthens your shoulders, arms, and upper back—which will help improve upper body positioning on the bike.  It stretches your hamstrings, shoulders, and calf muscles.  Dolphin pose can also help relieve back pain from cycling.

–Dempsey Marks

Half Pigeon Pose

Dempsey Marks

How to do it:

Begin in Downward Facing Dog.

Inhale, lift your right leg to the sky.  Exhale, bring your right knee to your right wrist and your right ankle towards your left wrist.

Flex your right foot to protect your knee.

Come to your fingertips and lengthen your spine.  Inhale, exhale, walk your hands forward.

Drape your torso over your shin.

Shift your weight side to side to even the weight in your hips.

Press your left foot into the mat.

Release your head and neck.

Hold for 10-12 breaths and repeat on the other side.

Why do it:

Pigeon pose is a great hip opener that stretches your hip flexors and relieves tension in your glutes.  

–Dempsey Marks

Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold with Chest Expansion

Dempsey Marks

How to do it:

Begin with your feet wider than shoulder width, toes pointing slightly in.

Interlace your fingers behind your back.

Inhale, lift your chest.  Exhale, fold forward, hinging at the hips.  Reach your hands overhead.

Relax your neck.  

Gaze behind you.

Actively squeeze your palms together. 

Bring your weight into the balls of your feet.

Hold for 8-10 breaths.

Why do it:

Wide-legged Standing Forward Fold With Chest Expansion is great for relieving neck and shoulder tension, which are both common in cyclists.  It stretches your hamstrings and back in addition to opening your chest.

–Dempsey Marks

Gorilla Pose

Dempsey Marks

How to do it:

Begin standing with your feet hip distance apart.  Inhale, lift your arms up.  Exhale, forward fold.

Hinge at your hips.  Bring your hands through your heart’s center.

If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees.

Slide your hands under your feet, palms facing up.

Relax your neck.

Massage your wrists with your toes. 

Shift your weight towards the balls of your feet.

Why do it:

Gorilla pose helps stretch and relieve tension along the entire back side of your body—most importantly your back and hamstrings.  It will also improve circulation and release tension in your wrists, which can become tight from gripping the handlebars of your bike.

–Dempsey Marks

Fierce Pose / Phantom Chair

Jimmy Minardi

Benefits:  

Strengthens glutes, quadriceps and great irrigation for lower back.

Instructions:

Stand with feet together and bend your knees and lower your hips as you raise your arms overhead.

Focus on sitting back into your heels to relieve pressure from your knees and to target the thighs and glutes.

Tuck your tailbone in and engage your abs, keeping your spine straight.

Roll your shoulder blades back and down away from your ears to release any tension in the neck or upper body, and gaze up toward the ceiling.

–Jimmy Minardi

Crescent Pose / Flying Monkey

Jimmy Minardi

Instructions:

Start in a runner’s lung – with one foot forward and flat, and the other back on the ball of your foot, aligning your knee directly over the heel of your front foot.

Raise both arms to the ceiling in a salute

Slowly lower your knee and tap it on the floor and back up again.

Repeat this five times and switch to the other foot.

Make sure your front shin stays vertical. Widen your stance as needed to make sure that your knee does not move forward past your ankle.

–Jimmy Minardi

Superman/Supergirl

Jimmy Minardi

Benefits: 

Helps strengthen and irrigate the muscles from base of scull to gluteus.

Instructions:

Lie on your stomach with toes flat on the floor; chin resting on the ground.

Stretch your arms out to the front as far as you can.

Take a deep breath in and lift chest, arms, legs and thighs off the floor.  

Make a gentle effort to stretch your arms and legs away from your torso.

As you exhale, gently lower your chest, arms and legs.

–Jimmy Minardi

Side-Arm Balance

Jimmy Minardi

Benefits: 

Strengthens arms and muscles that support the spine; shoulder stabilization

Instructions:

From Plank, shift your weight onto your right arm as you roll onto the outside of your right foot.

Keeping both feet flexed, stack left foot on top of the right with the legs very straight.

Bring the left arm up to the ceiling and the gaze to the left fingertips.

After several breaths, roll back the center and do the other side.

–Jimmy Minardi

Strengthen and Relieve Tension: 10 Best Yoga Poses for Cyclists