There's no question that long hours hunched over the handlebars can lead to tightness in both the upper and lower body. Serious road bikers sometimes endure chronically tightened hamstrings, quadriceps and gastrocnemius muscles. Recreational and commuter cyclists also get tight, especially if they overdo it or have bad posture in the saddle. Focusing on improving posture, stretching and a simple yoga routine can help diminish these problems, and make you a stronger, healthier cyclist.
"Yoga and cycling inform each other—they are both about staying aware in the moment,” says Kelli Refer, a yoga instructor and the creator of the forthcoming ’zine Pedal, Stretch, Breathe. ”Yoga can really help cyclists remember to breathe while they ride, and know when to take critical rests.”
The bandhas, the energetic locks or restraints that help move and direct energy flow in the body, help keep a body’s core strong and, by extension, keep the lower back happy on bike rides. Mula bandha, or root lock, is similar to the Kegel exercise many women are given to improve pelvic floor muscles, yet mula bandha and its adjunct uddiyana bandha are excellent for both male and female cyclists. Here are seven poses—including a few bandhas—you can practice on your own before taking to the saddle on your next ride.
As with all yoga, be gentle, use your breath and know your personal limitations.
*A big thanks to yoga model and cycling super-mom Charlotte Orvin, who posed for our slideshow.