Whether you pedal or Downward Dog (or both), it is the movement and awareness of it that you can find to create magic in each and/or both of the two practices.
Yoga and cycling do have parallelisms, and to engage the best of both, try drawing your thoughts toward:
1. The noticing.
Yoga and cycling bring you into your body, so that you can check in, and recognize what is going on in the body and in the soul. You draw inward even as you notice your surroundings. You start to tune into how you feel in a pose and on the bike.
Proper changing and shifting weight in response allows you to use more muscle groups skillfully so that you overuse none of them.
2. The breathing.
Regulating your flow of breath can help you find ease into and out of a pose and coordinates breath with the movement. In cycling, deep, diaphragmatic breathing can help power long rides and sprints. Not to mention, coordination of the breath for hopping over obstacles in off road cycling. Breathe-hold-breathe.
3. The core work.
This is one of the first places I noticed the similarity between the two:
In cycling, the engagement of core to adjust and move hips to help stabilize and shift weight from front to back, to adjust for a descent and then to draw hips forward and tuck the pelvis to ascend a climb. In yoga, to help with balance and length to draw hips skyward in Down Dog.
That core that holds you upright on the bike and lets you stay balanced through micro-movements that you barely notice, is also engaged in almost every yoga pose. I can relate to an instructor I had who used to scoff at students wishing to do ‘core work’ and accurately point out: ‘it’s all core’.
4. Existing in the moment.
I remember the first time I did a night ride on my bike. I was petrified but I was assured that my head and handlebar lighting would show me the way.
They were right, and I became super focused — forced to address only the trail in front of me, ruling out any peripheral distractions. You don’t get more in the moment than that.
But the real ability to fall into each moment doesn’t have to be forced, it can be gained through slowing down and seeing only what is in front of you — be it lines on the asphalt, leaves in the path or mat under your feet.