Why should cyclists do yoga?
If you’ve ever felt tight or sore in your hips or back during or after a ride, if you want to speed up your recovery time or if you just want to get faster – adding yoga into your training routine can achieve all three.
Cyclists spend long periods of time in a set position, which tightens the hamstrings, the hips and also shortens the hip flexors. The forward bending position also over time creates a rounded spine. This contributes to a tight body with a lack of joint mobility and spine extension.
Yoga is helping so many cyclists at all levels gain an edge over the competition with its many different styles, variations and techniques making it a great addition to your cycle training.
Additionally, it has been proven cyclists not only require good physical wellbeing but mental as well.
Improved muscular strength
Due to the nature of cycling and the recruitment of certain muscular groups, you are often left with undeveloped muscles; primarily the back, core and upper body muscles. Yoga can help to strengthen these muscles and also the prime movers needed for cycling. Overall, yoga will help to create a muscular balance between all these muscles and consequently build a stronger support system for you on the bike.
A common source of injuries in cyclists is from repetitive use of the joints and muscles. This happens from repeated stress on vulnerable joints and also because cyclists hold static body positions for long periods of time. However, yoga is able to counteract the risk of injury by improving the durability of the joints and muscles. This in turn strengthens the muscles and all the connective tissues reducing the weakness and stiffness in areas of the body which are most prone to injury.
Improve balance and stability
These are key principles of cycling and vital for helping you to stay centred on the bike. Yoga has been proven to develop your balance by not only strengthening your muscles but also through increasing your awareness of sensory receptors (making you more aware of the space around you and how your different body parts work together). Hence, completing yoga exercises that get you used to coordinating many movements at the same time will all lead to improvements in balance.
Alleviate muscle tightness, improve flexibility and make you faster
Yoga can help to counter tightness in the hip flexors which in turn can help your glutes to fire properly and increase your power output. Improving your flexibility will prevent you getting sore when holding your cycling position over a long time, think of the time you’ve lost on long rides sitting up to stretch out a sore back. Finally, if you’re more flexible you’ll be able to adopt and hold a more aggressive/aero position.
Improved focus and concentration
Yoga can also be extremely beneficial for psychological aspects too. Yoga has been proven to improve concentration, further focus individuals’ mental resources, enable people to process information quicker and more accurately and also to learn and retain more information.
Without realising it, every cycling event and training session you do can be a huge mental challenge. From questioning whether you have enough strength to get to the end, staying focused and remaining calm if the weather becomes severe and all the way to concentrating on your fuelling and pacing strategies throughout. Yoga can help to improve performance in regard to focus and concentration, which will help you remain positive and focused.
Yoga places a great deal of emphasis on the breath and learning to breathe in a controlled, deep and effective manner, even when under the duress of holding a challenging pose. This breath control and awareness is definitely transferable to cycling.
Lower stress levels
Finally, yoga has also been proven to reduce the physical effects of stress on the body. The body responds to stress by releasing the stress hormone, cortisol, into the body. Yoga has been shown to reduce these levels and also yoga can enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
Usually a Hotchillee Premium Member benefit, weekly Yoga and Pilates 45-minute classes for cyclists will be free & available to all in November. Join via the Rides & Activities tab on our website.
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Glen is usually behind the scenes making sure that the Hotchillee Ride Captains and event participants have fully functioning bicycles to ride but he occasionally makes an appearance in front of the camera to share his wisdom. If he’s not fixing or building bikes he’ll be out riding in #SweetSussex. If you want to know anything about Cyclocross, Glen is the man to ask.
Consultant with British Cycling and author of the Road Cycling Performance Manual. Lover of cobbles, gravel and Siberian Pine – not so keen on climbs! Nik is the author of all of the Hotchillee Training Plans, Zwift workout files and regularly posts tips and advice on the Hotchillee app. He’s also the evil genius behind the now infamous Hotchillee Gain Train.
Adele has worked within the health and fitness industry for over 25 years starting with a ballet and dance background herself, she has progressed to training and teaching all styles of fitness and offers Pilates, barre & yoga. As a keen runner, Adele appreciates the need for a strong healthy body and mind and incorporates many elements of Pilates, yoga and barre into her own training to ensure her strength and stamina remain.