Yoga for Cyclists
Thursday, May 26, 2010
At the age of 46 my sister Judy, who lives in Vancouver, decided that she was going to join the "Ride to Conquer Cancer" that would require her to ride from Vancouver to Seattle in 2 days (275km). Not only did she have to raise a minimum of $3000, but she had to buy a bike, start training and make cycling friends to do it with. It wasn't an easy challenge for her because she a single mom who doesn't have a lot of free time on her hands, and she had never ridden more than 20 km at a time. As soon as she started the bike training she discovered what many cyclists do - that parts of the body are being used a lot and get tight and sore. And so although she does not do yoga, I did give her a few stretches to do that might help her after a training ride. She reported sore quad muscles, tight shoulders and neck, weak wrists and often feeling like she just wanted to quit. It was too hard.
For the tight quads/ psoas muscle I suggested that she might want to try some runner's stretches/ dragon poses. The lizard/ gecko are both really good for stretching the psoas muscle. Because she was leaning forward while riding, the front of her body was feeling tight and compressed. Some simple back bending poses (cat and dog, bridge, boat, sphinx) would all help to open the front of her body. The tight neck and shoulders would benefit from some the yoga mudra done in different positions (standing, on her stomach, seated), and her sore wrists would be happy with some gentle qigong movements.
To help with the feelings of being discouraged, I suggested to her that she do some reading on the benefits of yoga breathing. When you are putting a lot of effort into doing something like cycling for long periods of time, you want to connect the rhythm of the breath with the pedal strokes. When we do yoga we breathe into tight & restricted muscles to give them oxygen - it is the same in cycling. And, paying attention to the breath also keeps you in the present moment so that when your mind starts to say "I can't do this anymore" you notice the thoughts and come back to the breathing and back to the cycling. She completed the ride last June and will do it again this year.
Next week is the Commuter Challenge week for everyone in the County of Haliburton. People of all ages are encouraged to bike or walk to school, work, meetings, to the grocery store etc. just for the fun of it! My sister would say, "if I can do this - anyone can." I hope to see you out there walking or biking.