yclists can benefit from incorporating a yoga routine into their training schedule. Cycling requires focus, endurance, and strength, whether on the road or a mountain trail. Mental resilience is vital to tackling long or difficult rides.

When considering the fluid range of motion desired for cycling, the need for balance, core stability, reflex response time, and respiratory capacity, yoga is a natural fit to support these needs and avoid injury or burn-out. 

Avid riding may result in tightness in the hamstrings, hips, and hip flexors, leading to discomfort, lower back pain, and even injury. The repetitive demands put on the body by training hard in cycling can lead to straining the piriformis muscle, postural dysfunction, wrists, hands, and neck pain, plantar fasciitis, and more.

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Where Does Yoga Come In?

Integrating a short (5 to 10 minutes) pranayama and asana session into your training schedule as a pre-ride warm-up and post-ride cool-down for tight muscles and joints may elevate your performance and set you up for an easier recovery time. Enjoying a full-hour (or longer) yoga session on a cycling rest day is also a supportive habit to develop.


Yoga May Help You

  • Increase your range of motion and train the whole body
  • Improve flexibility and avoid injury
  • Increased blood flow and regulate blood pressure
  • Sharpen mental focus and ability to stay calm in tense moments
  • Lower high cortisol levels in the body resulting from hard training sessions
  • Improve and increase lung capacity and breath control
  • Depending on the style of yoga you practice, you can also work through deep areas of stagnation, chronic pain, and dysfunction in connective tissues, older injuries, and scar tissue.

Total Body Training and Range of Motion

Yoga employs a full range of isometric movements to engage large and small muscle groups, building strength, flexibility, and balance. Unlike many other physical activities, your entire body is trained when you practice yoga. 

Through practices like Yin Yoga, you can find deep release for connective tissues in joints, ligaments, and tendons, which allows for an increase and ease in range of motion. Adding a Vinyasa Flow sequence will develop strength and balance.

Increased Flexibility May Equal Less Injury Over Time

The very nature of cycling and how the legs work in a singular repetitive motion leads to shortened hamstrings over time, which may lead to injury. Yoga easily counters this by lengthening and strengthening the hamstrings in myriad poses. Many poses also strengthen the quads, which, when strong, assist in avoiding knee injury. The asanas that work the shoulders, wrists, upper back, and chest support against chronic pain or injury from cycling postures.

Blood Pressure and the Flow of Blood Through the Body

Regular yoga practice has been shown in some studies to reduce blood pressure by up to 20% in specific individuals. Yoga also has the benefit of reversing blood flow in the body. Inversion poses such as Viparita Karani (Waterfall, or Legs Up the Wall), Bridge Pose, or Uttanasana (Forward Fold) send your blood flow pumping in the reverse direction of normal throughout the day. When blood flows from the legs and pelvic area back up to the heart, this reoxygenates the blood and supports a lower heart rate and better circulation throughout the body.

Mental Focus and Cortisol Reduction

Multiple studies have proven that yoga asana, meditation, and pranayama aid elite athletes in clarity, reaction time, and endurance. Many pro athletes swear by their daily meditation practice to maintain peak performance in their field. While some may feel that cycling is a meditative act, adding a 10-minute visualization or mindful meditation into your daily routine could greatly benefit you. 

Harvard Medical found that 12 weeks of yoga (90 minutes, five days a week) significantly lowered inflammation and cortisol levels in the body. High cortisol levels and inflammation contribute to burnout, exhaustion, and injury in any sport and are bad news for your immune system.

Pulmonary Health and Resilience

In a study conducted in 2015 by The International Journal of Yoga, 91 young, healthy participants practiced pranayama techniques for 12 weeks. Fast pranayama (Bhastrika, Kapalbhati) had significant, positive results. The journal study states, “Our results demonstrate that both slow and fast pranayamas benefit most of the tested PFT (pulmonary function test) parameters, and fast pranayama was more effective than slow pranayama. These changes by both pranayama techniques can be attributed to improved autonomic tone toward parasympathetic dominance resulting in a relaxed state of mind, better subjective well-being and concentration on the task, improved lung ventilation and strength of respiratory muscles.”

Yin Yoga for Deep Tissue Opening and Recovery

Yin focuses on calm, slow, deep stretching. Poses are held for up to 5 minutes so the deep connective tissues have time to respond to the steady load or pressure. This practice may assist in opening up areas of chronic pain and dysfunction from past injuries. Adding a Yin class on one of your rest days could positively impact your training recovery and ability to manage longer rides. 

Which Asana Are Best for Cyclists?

Suppose you want to incorporate a short warm-up asana routine before your rides. In that case, this sequence takes less than ten minutes to complete. It will benefit your hips and lower back and wake your whole system up for better balance and bodily awareness while on your bike. 

  • Start on your hands and knees to work through 4 or 5 rounds of breath in Cat/Cow.
  • Come to stand upright and move slowly through three rounds of Surya Namaskar A (Sun Salutations) to warm up your whole body.
  • Crescent Pose, also known as Runners Lunge (Anjaneyasana), opens the hip flexors and ignites the hamstrings, thighs, and glutes while opening the chest and shoulders. This posture also stretches the psoas muscle and guards against sciatica inflammation. While in this low lung, activate the glutes on the leg extended backward and then relax them. This action helps the hip flexor release more deeply into the pose. 
  • From Crescent, move to Half Monkey Pose (Half Forward Split) while being careful not to hyperextend the knee. 
  • Move to Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana.) This pose counters the forward posture of cycling. It is excellent for relieving low back pain. 
  • From the Bridge, take a Reclined Pigeon Pose on each side, holding for about 30 seconds for each leg. 

This short sequence will help inform the body of the movement to follow and, over time, support lengthening and strengthening all the muscle groups involved in cycling. After riding, a shorter but similar sequence (moving through a Sun Salutation to Crescent and then Bridge and Pigeon) helps keep the hips and lower back open. 

For the best supportive results, practicing yoga two to three times a week will improve your game in cycling and all your physical pursuits. You may find your mind more calm and focused on your riding goals and daily tasks.

International Yoga Journal Study

Dinesh T, Gaur G, Sharma V, Madanmohan T, Harichandra Kumar K, Bhavanani A. Comparative effect of 12 weeks of slow and fast pranayama training on pulmonary function in young, healthy volunteers: A randomized controlled trial. Int J Yoga. 2015 Jan;8(1):22-6. doi: 10.4103/0973-6131.146051. PMID: 25558130; PMCID: PMC4278131.

Pulmonary Health Citation


Bethany Orbison is an RTY-200 Chopra yoga teacher, certified meditation teacher, and nutrition coach. She is also a writer and part-time digital nomad. Bethany grew up learning to appreciate and stay deeply connected with the natural world and carries that passion and connection into her lifestyle today. Her favorite activities include outdoor yoga, forest bathing, hiking, and foraging. Bethany has worked as a photographer and for many years as a professional chocolatier. Yoga and chocolate are her two favorite things to share with others.


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