Yoga Poses That Help Cyclists Stretch Out

Cyclists often experience tightness in the major muscle groups used in riding a bike: the calves, quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hips, shoulders, and neck are particularly in need of regular stretching. This short series of yoga poses is designed for the recreational cyclist and should be done when the muscles are already warm. It's useful to have a few props handy, though you can substitute household items if you don't have them (a belt works as a strap, books or boxes can stand in for blocks).


Pelvic Tilts

Pelvic Tilt Position
Pelvic Tilt Position. John Freeman/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Start with this wonderful, gentle release for the low back. Imagine your pelvis as a bowl of water. While lying on your back with your knees bent, tip your pelvis back so that the water spills onto your belly and your lumbar spine presses flat to the floor. Inhale and release. Repeat this about ten times. The movement is subtle but effective.


Supine Spinal Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana

Supine Spinal Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana
Supine Spinal Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana. © Ann Pizer

A stretch for the glutes, back, and shoulders. If your neck bothers you, you can keep it in a neutral position instead of turning it to the side. Be sure to do both sides.


Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana

Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana
Seated Forward Bend - Paschimottanasana. © Ann Pizer

The classic hamstring stretch, yoga-style. This means that it's not all about touching your toes. Work on moving into the forward bend by rotating from your pelvis (as in the pelvic tilt, above) while keeping the spine long instead of slumping into it. Also use your breath, lengthening the spine on each inhale and deepening the forward bend on each exhale.


Cow Face Pose - Gomukhasana

Cow Face Pose Arms
Cow Face Pose Arms. ZenShui/Frederic Cirou/PhotoAlto Agency RF Collections/Getty Images

We're concentrating on the shoulder stretch here, so if you have sensitive knees, just keep your legs out long as in the previous pose. Use a strap between your hands if necessary.


Camel Pose - Ustrasana

Camel Pose - Ustrasana
Camel Pose - Ustrasana. © Ann Pizer

The quads, the large muscles in the front of the thighs, are especially in need of stretching. Do camel pose with blocks under your hands to emphasize the quad stretch instead of the back bend. Keep your neck long instead of letting the head drop back.



Lunge. © Barry Stone

Lunges are great stretches for the hip flexors, the group of muscles that control the movement of the legs towards the torso. Do both sides. You can drop the back knee to the mat if that's more comfortable.


Malasana - Garland Pose

Garland Pose - Malasana. © Barry Stone

A stretch for the hips, groins, and ankles. Try to keep the spine long instead of rounding forward. Take padding, like a rolled up blanket, under the heels if they don't come to the floor. If squatting is really hard for you, a placing block under your butt to sit on can help.


Standing Big Toe Pose - Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana

Utthita Hasta Padangustasana
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana. Ann Pizer

For fun, try coming into this pose from the previous one, garland pose. Grasp your right big toe in a yogi toe lock while still in the squat. Come up to stand by straightening the left leg while keeping hold of the right toe. When you are standing on the leg left, extend the right leg towards straight. Use a strap if necessary so you can get a nice stretch in the calf. Then rebend the right leg and lower down to a squat to do the other side. This exercise will also improve your core strength and balance. If you want to take it easy, do the reclined version of this pose.


Pigeon Pose - Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Mermaid Variation)

Mermaid Pose
Mermaid Pose. Ann Pizer

A great hip opener and stretch for the glutes. Start with a traditional pigeon prep with the back leg outstretched. If you feel comfortable here and want another quad stretch, move on to this mermaid variation with the back knee bent. 


Legs Up the Wall - Viparita Karani

Legs Up the Wall - Viparita Karani
Legs Up the Wall - Viparita Karani. GibsonPictures/E+/Getty Images

Finish by giving your legs a nice rest in this restorative posture, called legs up the wall.

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