Oh… Yoga… NOT Yoda! OK… I know it’s a “stretch” in itself but now that I have you with my cheesy intro… let’s all focus on our breathing and begin.
I recently ran across a local Yoga Instructor on twitter. It seems yoga is what strongly roots her growing tree of qualifications and accomplishments.
USAC certified coach, Star 3 level Spinning instructor
USA Triathlon certified expert coach
USA Cycling certified coach
Registered Yoga Teacher
Member, PowerBar Team Elite
All that and she has a really cool name… seriously cool! Meet Sage Rountree, PhD.
I struck up a conversation with her because I have done yoga for my cycling/triathlete needs off and on. I credit my wife for urging me to try it years ago. I certainly have seen the benefits. But don’t get me wrong… I can use much more.
Anyway, I had seen Sage on twitter talking about the importance of Yoga and her new book, ”The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga” published by VeloPress (she also has “The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga,” coming out this summer).
So I asked if I could send her a few questions about the importance of Yoga for cyclists and endurance athletes. She obliged and here are her answers. Hopefully, they’ll help you begin the process of improving as a cyclist/endurance athlete.
1. As a cyclist/endurance athlete… why is it so important to incorporate something like Yoga?
For strength, flexibility, balance, and focus. This works both literally and metaphorically. Yoga builds core strength, leg strength, and upper-body strength, but it also makes you more able to keep going in the face of intensity. Yoga increases your range of motion, but it also teaches you to be flexible when things aren’t going as planned. Yoga helps you stand on one leg (or both arms) more easily, but it also offers a complement to your training by emphasizing stillness and recovery. Yoga teaches you to focus on what’s happening right now and on your breath, and that creates a broader sense of focus on what’s really important off the mat and off the bike.
2. Is Yoga a deeper… better way to stretch? I think many cyclists don’t really do a good job of stretching much at all. What’s the importance to training and improvement?
Stretching is just part of the equation. It’s important for avoiding overuse injury and increasing range of motion. But yoga also drastically improves core strength, and it helps cyclists learn better breathing patterns and develop awareness in the present moment. In addition, the right yoga will speed up recovery, so the body is ready for more hard training.
3. Are there particular parts of the body/muscles that cyclists need to focus on specifically with Yoga?
Absolutely. It’s good to get to class periodically, so that you have an experienced teacher’s eye checking your form. But you can add ten minutes of yoga after your ride a few times a week and see a huge difference. My podcast, Sage Yoga Training (available at www.sagerountree.com), consists of many short routines perfect to do right off the bike.
5. Speaking of time, you must remind athletes NOT to rush through this? Isn’t the relaxation and focusing on breathing part of the stretching and strengthening process?
Indeed. Just being in a yoga pose is a nice complement to all of the doing that goes on when we ride. It’s easy for cyclists to get obsessed with numbers–time, mileage, wattage, heart rate, grams–and forget the sheer joy of moving. Yoga helps balance the quantification of the number game by giving cyclists time to feel the quality of what’s going on in their bodies.
Well, I don’t know about you… but I feel refreshed just thinking about the improvement process I’m about to begin! I think that will include Sage’s podcast after my next ride. I hope this helps you. If you have benefited from yoga as a cyclists let me know. Or, if this information urges you to begin let me know about your progress and I’ll update everyone, including Sage!