My exercise goal for August is decidedly less intense than Trisha’s century ride training. I have to attend two Bikram yoga classes a week with my friend from work. The 90 minute classes heated to 105 degrees are not exactly fun. The best feeling comes when the class is over and I can sail away on my bicycle for the six mile ride home along the Lakefront Trail. The transition from the oppressive heat of the yoga room to the cool lake breeze of the trail is beautiful and makes me enjoy riding my bike even more than usual.
Plus, there’s always this view.
My bike set up on yoga class days is basic. Okay, a little bag lady-chic.
I strap my mat to the back rack (and then sometimes forget it there for a couple of days, creating deep indentions in the mat).
I stuff my work bag, change of clothes, towel, water bottle and lock in my front basket. My basket is low down and anchored to front stays, which helps this load feel light and not interfere with my steering.
My cockpit area is looking a bit too cluttered. Perhaps I should remove my scarf or flower or handlebar bag or camera mount…
Once the (heavily discounted) introductory month is over at the Bikram studio, I will probably go back to Vinyasa, as a more enjoyable yoga for me. But I expect to miss, at least a little bit, the relief of escape by bicycle that practicing Bikram provides me. :-)
While the 44 page booklet is not a comprehensive guide, it outlines interesting links between bicycling and yoga, beginning with the importance of breathing fresh air and ending with the ability “to invite meaningful change into our communities.” In between is practical information with action steps for integrating the practice of yoga with bicycling. While some of the information is aimed at those taking long, sporty rides, much is applicable for those – like me – who simply ride for transportation.
The first half of the booklet provides several different yoga poses that either integrate a bicycle into the pose or are especially helpful for bodies subject to the repetitive motion of cycling. Each pose is presented with a sketch and a description. The poses can be performed either directly on the bike while waiting at a stop light or with more space pre or post-ride.
My friends Chika and Sara were cool enough to experiment with and demonstrate the poses when we met up for a free yoga class on Lake Michigan. Below are their thoughts on a few of the poses.
They started with Dancer’s Pose: Natarajasana: a little hard to balance while standing over a bike, but otherwise easy to do while waiting at a stoplight. Good for the thigh and ankle, which both get a lot of strain from bicycling.
Heart Opener: feels good! especially after leaning over handlebars.
Turn Around Twist: not much of a twist feeling…
…but they achieved more leverage by putting the front hand in the middle of the handlebars, allowing for a fuller twist.
Down Dog with your Bike: feels good, would work as a pre or post-ride stretch, but obviously not at a stoplight.
Down Dog Twist: even better!
The booklet offers several different flow variations for these and other poses. After completing this series of poses, Chika and Sara said they felt warmed up and ready to go and could see themselves enjoying these poses on their own. Two thumbs up from my testers. :-)
The second part of the booklet contains a basic guide to chakras “for you and your bike.” Some of this I’m not really into, such as “true your wheels and repack your hubs to feel more freewheeling in life.” But some is inspiring, such as bicycling as a moving meditation.
Consider your bike ride to be a moving mediation. Notice all the sensations: Air on skin, steady breath, sweat rolling down your brow. Move with keen awareness of your body and surroundings.
I need a recording of those words read in a calm, yoga-teacher voice to play whenever I get frustrated by heat, cold, potholes, or drivers.
Overall, Pedal, Stretch, Breathe is a unique and thoughtful read for those interested in both bicycling and yoga. Definitely worth $5, especially considering the money supports cool, entrepreneurial women. You can buy the ‘zine HERE and read more about the topic at Yoga for Bikers.
Now that I find myself doing heart openers at stoplights, I’m curious: do any of you incorporate yoga into your bicycling routine?
Who else is obsessed with the Olympics? Watching the US women’s gymnastics team (go Gabby!) was the push I needed to get my butt back to yoga, after years of saying, “I need to get back to yoga.”
I’m finishing week two of near-daily 6 a.m. classes and I love it. I am not a morning person, but I discovered that if I get up as soon as the alarm goes off, throw on my yoga clothes, and head straight out the door – no snooze button, coffee, twitter, or other procrastination – the morning is not so bad.
This routine requires extra preparation, especially combined with biking to work. I bike to the studio on the way to work wearing my yoga outfit (Lululemon’s yoga clothes are so expensive, but soooo perfect!). After class, I shower at the studio and change into regular shorts and a t-shirt, since my yoga clothes are too sweaty to put back on and I get too sweaty on my bike right now to wear work clothes. Finally, I bike the rest of the way to work and change into my work clothes. I swear, this is not as complicated as it sounds. Totally worth the extra effort for the wonderful feeling I get from yoga class.
Do you have a yoga or other exercise routine that you combine with your bike commute? I’m interested to hear how others handle the logistics.
We cycle as transportation and as a way to enjoy life more by connecting with the world around us. We do not engage in the “sport” of cycling – not that there is anything wrong with that, but neither of us is exactly the sporty type. The health benefits of daily cycling, however, are undeniable and serve as a big reason to ride a bike.
Ommmmmm – ah
The other side of this benefit is that the muscles can get very tight with repetitive motion and some complimentary stretching is necessary. Not to over-complicate our basic message of city cycling (“Oh, now I have to create a targeted stretching routine to bike to work? Forget that! Where are my Hummer keys?”) but a bit of stretching would do a cycling body good. We both practiced yoga before we started riding bikes and have found that yoga and cycling is a lovely combination.