Increase Your Bike Performance: Breathing Tips by Yoga Expert Melissa West

Melissa West Explaining Breathing for Cyclists

How to breathe correctly... A trivial question? Doesn't have to be. Believe me that most of you breathe insufficiently. Breathing is a gateway to multiple processes in your body and it is the best way to control your stress. No surprise that most martial arts masters are working a lot with breathing. A boxer never punches without exhaling simultaneously as this would incredibly decrease his power. So why don't many cyclists even think about improving their way of breathing? 

Simply by following the advice on proper breathing provided in this article, you will be able to:

  • Keep your tempo much easier
  • Relax your body much faster when beginning your training (helps a lot when biking after work)
  • Accelerate much more easily and of course, go faster...

So What is Wrong With Our Breathing?

  • The increasing stress of modern living makes us breathe more quickly and less deeply
  • Our breathing is simply too shallow and too quick
  • Shallow breathing does not exercise the lungs enough, so they lose some of their function, causing a further reduction in vitality.

The latter means that while breathing during your training is important, we also need to be careful throughout the day to keep the lungs
vital.

We Asked a Yoga Expert...

There is one domain that deals with breathing ­probably­ the most and that is yoga. Breathing in yoga is called 'Pranayama'. Yoga practitioners know best how to breath and they can even massage their interior organs by applying breathing techniques while in different positions.

This is why I've asked a well­known yoga teacher Dr. Melissa West about proper breathing... 

Can yoga breathing can help cyclists while riding and possibly after wards as well? Why?
 
Using the full potential of your lungs can increase your aerobic capacity and help prevent injury. Practicing breathing on the yoga mat will help to teach you how to fill your lungs completely with air and then slowly release. This will help to slowly build your lung capacity. Deep breathing will help to circulate more oxygen to your muscles and increase
oxygen uptake to your brain. Over the course of your ride this will reduce your fatigue and help you stay more relaxed. 

 
How to breathe properly?

I also asked Melissa to give us a few simple tips on how to breathe properly in yoga. She was very kind and directed me to a few of her great videos. Even this short introduction helped me a lot in learning to breathe more deeply:
UPDATED: So here is the new video made exclusively for cyclists... enjoy!  
 

If you want to invest some more time to increase your lung capacity (be sure that it will pay off) check out this exercise to increase your lung capacity 

 
and here you can try different yoga breathing techniques
 

However, yoga doesn’t help cyclists only with breathing. There is a lot more that you can do. I recommend that you to try this yoga for cyclists workout by Melisa. (This one is not for free but if you’re taking cycling seriously it will definitely help you.)

Did this article inspire you to improve your breathing? Did you notice any results? Share them with us in comments...

Peter Kortvel's picture

Peter Kortvel

I believe that if everybody rode a bike to work our life would be much better. As a bike lover, I started with Bikestein.com to bring people knowledge and inspiration for their everyday bike challenges. From winning the world championships to going more often on bike to work; all of us are trying to push our limits... As a youngster I used to train hard (I even become a champion of Slovakia), luckily, I wasn't crazy enough to choose the hardest profession in the world :) These days, you can find me commuting to work on a bike every morning or riding my road bike in Bratislava or Austria (and I am really missing some nice climbs here...).