Yoga is fast becoming the secret weapon of cyclists…
Yoga and cycling are two sports that would normally never meet, but embracing your inner yogi is fast becoming the secret weapon of many cyclists. Used by professional teams and riders including Tour De France winner Bradley Wiggins and pro mountain biker and Olympian Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, it can vastly improve your experience on the bike, both in terms of physical performance and mental agility. Now a local Woodbridge teacher offers classes ideal for cyclists.
It’s tougher than it looks, so don’t underestimate yoga.
It was originally developed to improve discipline physically, mentally and energetically. Some even say it makes you a better lover. Commonly recognised for boosting flexibility, today yoga is used by professional athletes. It shortens recovery time, prevents injury, increases focus and boosts stamina.
For many cyclists tight hamstrings and hips are common, along with complaints of aching shoulders and stiffness after long rides. It’s not enough to just take a recovery shake, do a little stretching and then let your body do its thing – where yoga excels is in its thoroughness. It stretches the major muscle groups. Yoga strengthens in a way that balances power and posture alignment throughout the body. It also removes toxins from the blood and stimulates tissue regeneration.
Cross training with yoga encourages lengthening of ligaments and supple muscles, for the crucial flexibility cyclists need. The physical benefits will allow you to comfortably get the most aerodynamic benefit from your position on the bike. Leaving you to focus on improving your power to weight ratio, to blow away the competition from a position of comfort.
The mental advantage, or in the words of Wiggins, ‘keeping the chimp in the cage’ is less talked about. Yoga challenges you to go outside your comfort zone. It develops determination and self discipline. Also providing methods for reducing performance anxiety for before a race and relaxation for afterwards. This awareness of the body and its limits will help you push yourself both on the bike and on the yoga mat.
You don’t need to rely on EPO or Salbutamol to increase your performance.
Yoga is naturally performance enhancing. Research shows six weeks of yoga gives significant increase in aerobic power. Breathing techniques help maximise oxygen use, and maintain a healthy blood composition with all those twisting yoga postures – they’re not just all about looking like a yoga pro, they work out your insides too!
Whilst yoga may not be the most competitive of sports, we can guarantee that if your cycling club comes in for a class there will be competition between your riders. Your competitive nature will motivate you to improve using the others in your class as your benchmark. You cannot get this from an app at home where we tend to stick to what is comfortable. This competition encourages us to probe our limits and maximise the benefits of even the most relaxing routines – be prepared to brag about how you were much more relaxed than your clubmates!
One of the major benefits of taking a yoga class is the personal time you get from the instructor.
We will monitor your position, making corrections and adjustments to help you push yourself to improve. You don’t get this kind of attention on a yoga app or video, where you may feel like you’re nailing the position but if you could stand back and see yourself, there would be room for improvement.
Another benefit to a class is that they target specific areas in which cyclists experience strain, such as the neck, hips and back. If you’re a time trialist then this can help you get into that aerodynamic position. The core strength work will help if your upper body stay stable and strong when fighting for position as a sprinter, letting your legs put the hammer down on the road.
Yoga as a recovery mechanism for cyclists can be invaluable.
Bike racing is tense, with long hours in the saddle combining with the focus and concentration of competition taking its toll on your body. Even if you don’t race competitively, long rides can make your muscles ache and your joints stiff. Cyclists often talk about the importance of refuelling and correct nutrition to aid recovery, but talked about much less is the physical need to help your body recover.
Join others in Woodbridge already taking classes with Holly. She offers a recovery class called Relax, a strengthening class called Energise, and focus class called Meditate. As a former GB gymnast, Holly understands the benefits yoga can bring to an athlete, both in aiding performance and boosting recovery. Contact her to book today if you’re part of a cycling club in Woodbridge, Suffolk, for a discount on classes for your members, or private class to help boost your whole squad’s performance!