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Some yoga instructors differentiate themselves by creating classes for a specific type of student. They offer yoga for certain age groups, for example, such as developing a class solely for kids or one for seniors. Or they might have a yoga class for beginners and a different one for advanced practitioners.
Taking this approach can set you apart from other instructors. It can also help grow your yoga business. If you’re not sure what type of class to offer, what about creating a class for cyclists?
Roughly one in three Americans have ridden a bike in the past year according to the 2022 U.S. Bicycling Participation Report. Of those cycling outside, 44% also rode indoors on a stationary bike or something similar. (1) This creates a large demographic of people you can help by developing a class specifically for cyclists because many face one major issue: muscle tightness.
Tight muscles are common after a long bike ride. (If you’ve ever ridden for any real distance or length of time, you may have experienced this yourself.) Oftentimes, this tightness appears as pain in the hips. The culprit is tight hip flexors.
The hip flexor is responsible for moving the leg up when pedaling. After repeatedly engaging in this motion during long cycling periods, the muscle can start to tighten. Cycling form doesn’t help because it keeps the muscle shortened.
Tight hip flexors can lead to other issues as well. Riders may notice pain in the groin, lower back, and glute areas. Tightness in this muscle may even contribute to knee or foot problems. What’s one way to resolve this tightness? Yoga.
One small-scale study found that, after engaging in yoga twice weekly for 12 weeks, participants had significant improvements in hip flexor flexibility. They also had greater strength in their core muscles. (2)
This second point is important because some cyclists develop tightness in their core. This is from the constant pressure on these muscles to keep the cyclist upright. The stronger you can make the core, the more it can withstand the tension.
Another benefit of yoga for cyclists is injury prevention. Cycling can be hard on the knees, leading to injury and pain over time. Studies have found that yoga helps reduce knee pain while boosting knee strength. (3)
It’s also common for long-distance cycling to cause neck and back pain. This is partially from staying in the same posture with limited movement in these areas. Poor riding form can contribute to pain in these areas as well.
A large meta-analysis published in 2022 noted that yoga helps reduce pain intensity for individuals with low back pain. (4) A different systematic review found similar results for patients with chronic neck pain. (5)
All yoga styles can provide benefits for cyclists. That said, Yin Yoga may be one of the better ones to try. The reason for this is that this style helps balance the energy expended in activities that are faster-paced. That makes it perfect for individuals who engage in cycling on a regular basis.
Once you recognize the benefits of yoga for cyclists, the next question is typically which poses are best. Here are nine that are good for people who spend a lot of time on a bike:
Bound Angle pose. This pose is an amazing hip opener while stretching the inner thighs. It involves sitting up straight with the bottom of the right and left foot together in front of you. The crown of the head is lifted toward the ceiling while pushing the hips down. The shoulder blades are pulled back and down as well.
Bridge pose. If your back feels tired after cycling, this pose can help. It also helps build strength in the hamstring muscles and glutes. It involves lying on your back with your knees bent, then lifting the hips until the body forms a straight line from the shoulders to the knees.
Camel pose. This pose opens the thighs and groin. It’s also a good stretch for the chest and shoulder areas. It involves getting in a kneeling position, then doing a sort of backbend with the upper body back with the hands on the heels.
Cat-Cow pose. This pose is good for your posture. It stretches the hips, back, and chest while improving flexibility in the shoulders and neck. It involves kneeling on your hands and knees, then arching the back, followed by dropping the belly toward the floor.
Crescent Lunge. If you’re looking for a good hip flexor stretch, this is it. This posture involves kneeling on one knee, then pushing the hips forward while keeping the upper body straight and arms extended overhead.
Downward Dog pose. What’s great about this pose is that it opens the chest while stretching the back of the lower body. It’s also a good hip opener. It involves putting the body in an inverted “V” with the knees slightly bent.
Eye-of-the-Needle pose. This pose is good for stretching the glute muscles. It involves lying on your back with your knees bent. The ankle of one leg rests in front of the knee of the other. You then pull the leg with the bent knee back while lightly pushing the knee of the other leg away.
Standing Forward Bend. This posture helps stretch tight hamstring muscles. It involves standing with crossed ankles, then hinging at the hips to allow the upper body to rest in front of the lower body.
Upper plank pose. Just as Downward Dog opens the chest, so does Upper Plank. It involves being in a plank position; however, instead of the body facing the floor, it faces the ceiling.
Each pose should be performed on a yoga mat. The mat provides greater comfort as well as preventing slipping while in certain postures or poses.
For poses that stretch one side of the body at a time, like Eye-of-the-Needle pose, be sure to do the pose on both sides. If you do the stretch on the right leg, for example, also do it on the left leg. And when doing Standing Forward Bend, do the move with the right ankle crossed in front of the left, then the left crossed in front of the right. This helps prevent muscle imbalance.
To get the most out of the stretches, hold them for 20 to 30 seconds, or longer if you can. This also helps increase flexibility. Continue to breathe during the hold. Take a deep breath in and exhale to help your body relax.
Many of these poses can be modified using yoga props. This is helpful for individuals with limited flexibility.
The best time to do yoga is after cycling. At this point, the muscles are nice and warm. This enables you to more easily stretch any that tightened during the ride. Doing yoga after a long ride also aids in recovery.
You don’t have to limit yoga to only after cycling though. This practice can be performed every day if you like. Many people find that a regular practice helps them stay calm and centered. So, its benefits extend beyond cycling recovery and injury prevention.
If you’re new to yoga, working with a trained instructor can also be beneficial. An experienced teacher can ensure that you’re doing each yoga pose correctly. They can also suggest modifications if any pose feels uncomfortable (such as using a yoga block).
Another option is to take yoga teacher training. This type of course can be helpful even if you don’t plan to teach. This is because it helps you learn proper pose alignment. This helps you get the most from each pose while reducing your injury risk. You also learn how to modify the poses, if needed.
Teacher training covers proper pose sequencing too. In yoga, it’s important to transition seamlessly from one pose to the next. A training course teaches you which poses work well in succession. This is beneficial when creating your own sequences.
Of course, teacher training is also important if you plan to lead classes. It provides a strong foundation in the yoga practice. You also learn how to build and grow a yoga business.
ISSA Yoga & Wellness Academy offers a 200-hour Teacher Training Course. In this course, you learn about yoga history and philosophy, cueing, yogic breathing, asana benefits and form, and more.
U.S. Bicycling Participation Report Archive. PeopleForBikes. (2022). https://www.peopleforbikes.org/reports/us-bicycling-participation-report
Colgrove, Y., Gravino-Dunn, N., Dinyer, S., Sis, E., Heier, A., & Sharma, N. (2019). Physical and physiological effects of yoga for an underserved population with chronic low back pain. International Journal of Yoga, 12(3), 252. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijoy.ijoy_78_18
Kuntz, A. B., Chopp-Hurley, J. N., Brenneman, E. C., Karampatos, S., Wiebenga, E. G., Adachi, J. D., Noseworthy, M. D., & Maly, M. R. (2018). Efficacy of a biomechanically-based Yoga Exercise Program in knee osteoarthritis: A randomized controlled trial. PLOS ONE, 13(4). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195653
Anheyer, D., Haller, H., Lauche, R., Dobos, G., & Cramer, H. (2021). Yoga for treating low back pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Pain, 163(4). https://doi.org/10.1097/j.pain.0000000000002416
Cramer, H., Klose, P., Brinkhaus, B., Michalsen, A., & Dobos, G. (2017). Effects of yoga on chronic neck pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Rehabilitation, 31(11), 1457–1465. https://doi.org/10.1177/0269215517698735