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  • YOGA FOR BETTER CYCLING...

YOGA FOR BETTER CYCLING: PART 1 – BREATHING EXERCISES

  • Improve your Cycling Experience
Yoga for Better Cycling: Part 1 - Breathing Exercises

Cyclists often assume Yoga has plenty to offer when it comes to avoiding muscle soreness and muscle aches after a ride. There is a lot more to Yoga which can help benefit us while on the saddle.

Based on the fluid connection of movement and breath, Yoga will give you the tools you need to take control of your breathing, get your heart rate under control, and ultimately help you get more power while riding. Yoga also helps keep your muscles limber and thus less prone to injury.

Breathing helps you stay relaxed and focused while riding. A steady and smooth breath allows you to clear your mind and connect with how your breathing affects your body and the power you are able to exert. Yoga puts this focus and allows you the cultivate better breathing habits that will benefit you while riding.

Here are 3 simple Breathing Exercises to do before your ride:

Anulom Vilom (Alternate Nostril Breathing)

  1. Sit in a comfortable crossed legged position.
  2. Roll your shoulders back (that will open your chest) and place your left hand over kneecap
  3. Now with the right hand, make Vishnu mudra & bring it near your nose tip. (To make Vishnu mudra, bend your middle & index finger towards the palm while keeping ring & little finger straight.)
  4. While the right hand is in Vishnu mudra near nose tip, begin Anulom Vilom breathing by the closing tip of the right nostril with thumb and take a deep breath in from your left nostril. Feel the air flowing through the left nostril to the lungs.
  5. Now after complete inhalation from left nostril, remove your thumb from the right nostril and close your left nostril by ring & little finger (that is in Vishnu mudra). The air you inhale is now to exhale slowly through the right nostril.
  6. After complete exhalation through the right nostril, next, inhale deep from right nostril (while left nostril is closed).
  7. Next release left nostril & exhale out the air you inhale from right nostril in the very previous step. This is one round.
  8. Breathe in and out slowly and gently without force and no sound.

Repeat the steps for 5 to 10 minutes Or a minimum of 10 rounds. This simple exercise reduces snoring and sinus issues, improves digestion, reduces stress, maintains blood pressure, great for headaches, good sleep and keeps heart healthy. It balances your energy channels by stimulating both the sides of your brain.

Yoga for Better Cycling: Part 1 - Breathing Exercises - 1
Yoga for Better Cycling: Part 1 - Breathing Exercises - 2

Bhastrika

  1. Sit in a comfortable crossed legged position.
  2. Take in a deep breath and breathe out forcefully through the nose without any strain
  3. Immediately breathe in with the same force
  4. Inhale and exhale repeatedly, deeply and thoroughly using the diaphragmatic muscles with vigour.
  5. You can do 5 to 10 breaths consecutively, take a break and do one or two more rounds.

Note: It should be practiced on an empty stomach.

The above movements should be slightly exaggerated and a strong nasal sound will accompany such breathing. The process should be rhythmic and controlled, maintaining speed as per capacity. The Bhastrika Pranayama is great for energizing the body and mind. Since we maximize our lung capacity while doing it, the Pranayama helps remove toxins and impurities. It helps with sinus, bronchitis, and other respiratory issues, improved awareness, and perceptive power of the senses. It’s a great practice to do as part of your warm up.

Khumbaka (Internal Breath Retention):

  1. Sit in a comfortable crossed legged position.
  2. Inhale for 5 counts.
  3. Hold your breath for 5 counts
  4. Exhale for 10 counts
  5. Repeat 5 times with a small interval in between.

The Khumbaka Pranayam results in an increase in the carbon dioxide level (due to retention) which activates the respiratory centre in the brain, leading to greater interchange of oxygen. Better oxygenation improves health and concentration. It also, reduces strain on the circulatory system.

Yoga for Better Cycling: Part 1 - Breathing Exercises - 3
Yoga for Better Cycling: Part 1 - Breathing Exercises - 4

About the Author

Shahin Ansari believes in health and fitness as well as in leading a mindful and positive lifestyle. Shahin played competitive Tennis for 13 years which played a big role in terms of realising the importance of health, wellness and positivity.

She was introduced to Yoga at a young age but didn’t appreciate it’s value then, as she felt the form was too slow compared to her usual ideas of movement. She gave it a go again in her early twenties, which is when she really started to enjoy practicing asanas.

Shahin slowly fell in love with it and started looking for ways to dive deeper into Yoga. Post some research and conversations, she decided to do a Teacher Training Course (TTC) for a better understanding of it all. Shahin completed the 200hr TTC at the end of last year. She started teaching some friends and family, which made her realise that this is definitely a path she wants to take. Shahin now conducts one to one classes online to help people stay active and lead an active and healthy lifestyle. You can follow Shahin on Instagram at @shahin.yoga for more.

Conclusion

Practice these 3 simple exercises everyday and you will see a significant improvement in your breathing while cycling which will help you ride faster and longer and feel refreshed even after a long ride.

In the next part of the Yoga for Better Cycling series we will learn Stretching exercises to help improve your performance on the Saddle.

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