About 25 years ago as I was beginning to seriously immerse myself into amateur endurance sports, I overheard something interesting at the finish of a triathlon. A fellow amateur athlete who soundly beat me in that event said “I haven’t trained much in the last year but I’ve been doing lots of yoga” I had know him for a year or so and knew he hadn’t been training much, at the same time, I had worked very hard. Knowing nothing about yoga, it puzzled me how this totally unrelated activity could trump hours of training and hard work…..I filed this experience in the back of my head and spent another decade training and working hard. Eventually, I became a dedicated amateur cyclist, racing and riding around the local and regional scene.
After many years, it became apparent that I was no longer progressing as an athlete, my performance from year to year was more or less exactly the same. I recalled the interaction of that triathlete 10 years prior and decided to do something drastic, give up training hours for some time with yoga. It’s hard for an amateur athlete to give up any training as we are balancing family life, work, kids activities, etc. However, after about 2 months of attending Iyengar yoga classes, I began to notice that I was much more comfortable on the bike, particularly during very hard efforts, casino online I was able to hold hard efforts longer and began to exceed previous power levels. I was now able to engage deeper into my musculature for additional power, my joints (particularly hips and knees) felt stronger and my back ached less. Additionally, recovery was faster after hard days in the saddle, it felt as though I literally turned the clock back 5 to 10 years on my age. Contrary to my initial thoughts, replacing an hour of cycling with an hour of yoga was a net gain, not an hour lost. I found I was training less and getting stronger.
During my first few years in yoga, I learned yoga itself is many things. It can be hard, it can be easy, it can be uncomfortable, it can hurt, it can feel very good. I learned about all the varieties of yoga and within the yoga varieties, the different styles of each instructor. With all these choices, it became apparent that yoga can be custom fit to match individual goals. As an example, during the winter months, I use intense Vinyasa Yoga to build strength, particularly core strength. Jenny Lewis’s classes at MUUV is my go to instructor and place for intense Vinyasa Yoga. I have been in Vinyasa classes around the world over the last 15 years and nobody will kick your butt harder than Jenny…..she has been doing that to me for nearly a decade. During the peak cycling season, I seek out a much less intense variety of yoga which focuses on stretching and relaxation such as a Yin yoga class, where things move slowly and deliberately with lots of time during each pose. This allows a deeper exploration of each pose and stretches deeply into the joints and musculature. Typically, I precede a yin class with a hard weight room workout. It is the ultimate Yin Yang or Yang Yin.
Now, after all these years in the cycling, I no longer race, no longer train long hours, but with yoga, can still ride fast and hard using a base fitness built up over many years and experience on being an efficient athlete. I’m sure young cyclist look at me and wonder how this “old guy” can still ride at a relatively high level. I will never tell! Thanks Jenny!