Yoga can seem like magic for many reasons. It doesn’t seem like you do much in class that relates to the bike. However, when you go for your ride, you will notice a difference. Yoga cultivates core and whole body strength, balance, mobility, and mindfulness, all of which affect your ride in different ways. This will be a 2 part series. Part 1 discusses the physical benefits of practicing yoga for Cyclists over 50, and part 2 discusses the mental benefits.
Yoga for Strength
Even though cycling is often seen as “cardio,” cyclists need seriously strong legs! Building strength in the quads and core improves your ability to climb. Tackling hills with more ease is what it’s all about! Having a strong core keeps your lower back more stable as well. Yoga poses such as Utkatasana, Plank pose, and Bridge pose all build strong, stable legs and core that will help you climb those hills and get more out of each pedal.
Practicing yoga also helps balance the body. Since riding only moves you through one plane of movement (Sagittal), it is common to over use one set of muscles (tight hip flexors anyone?) and under use others. A full yoga practice moves you through all planes of motion, strengthening not only in the Sagittal plane, but in the Coronal (Lateral) and Horizontal (Rotational) planes as well. Even though these movements are absent from bicycling, strengthening these muscles keeps you from compensating, and them from causing you pain.
Yoga for Balance
Your balance starts to fade as you age unless you actively work on it. Balance is not only essential while you bike, but getting on and off as well. You might not think about it, but having good balance affects you all day long. When you get out of bed, walk up and down stairs, or even standing up from sitting. All these movements all require good balance. Practicing balance poses such as Tree, Airplane, and Half Moon challenge your balance in different directions, while cultivating core and leg strength as well.
The beauty of balance poses is they require both strength and mobility, so you are accomplishing many things at once. Shifting your weight from one pose to the next improves your balance, as does standing statically on one leg. When you ride, your body and bike stay connected but you need to maintain your connection as you move through space. Different terrain will challenge your balance on the bike. Practicing different types of yoga poses and flows enhance your ability to balance under any circumstances.
Yoga for Mobility
Cycling has you hunched over to different degrees during your whole ride. If you only cycle and don’t do anything else, over time, that hunched position will be your only position. The muscles in front of your body get tighter and tighter, and unless you stretch them out again, standing up will get more challenging and painful. Yoga is known for stretching, sometimes to extremes. Practicing yoga when you are over 50 helps you maintain and increase your mobility, without needing to put your foot behind your head, or even touch your toes.
Mobility is about improving and maintaining functional range of motion in your joints. Stretching out after you ride not only feels good, but helps you stand up after being in the saddle for hours at a time. When your hip flexors get tight, they can pull on your lower back causing pain. Doing poses such as Low Lunge, Modified King Pigeon, and Warrior 1 create this mobility. Yoga mudra and cobra pose are perfect for counteracting the “cashew back.”
Next week’s post discusses the mental benefits of practicing yoga when you are a cyclist over 50. If you are interested in exploring the both mental and physical benefits for your body, click here to see my full schedule of online yoga classes. Mindful Core, Head to Toe Stretch, and 30 Min FitFlow are three 30 minute classes that are perfect for cross-training and easy to fit into your training routine. Click here to see my full on demand library!
Click this link to watch “Post Bike Stretch,” a free stretch class for after your ride!
New to yoga? Click here for my free eBook, “Top 10 Things to Know Before Attending Your First Yoga Class.’