In today’s post as part of our off season training series, we hit on yoga, and who better than to present this topic to you than someone who’s been mountain biking for 15 years, practicing and teaching yoga for over 8 years, living the life around the world and staying healthy, happy, and injury free that entire time. We introduce Christina McGrath. Christina is a strong believer that mountain biking and yoga go hand in hand and each benefit each other. Not to mention benefiting your bottom line of being happy.
Why should I do yoga and how will it benefit my riding?
If you want to be faster as a racer, you should work to become more flexible and focused because it will help you to be stronger and play harder. Yoga is the perfect fit for active cyclists and here’s why!
“A cyclist without yoga is like riding with out a seat. It can be done but it probably won’t be a very successful, comfortable or lengthy career. “ Nick Truitt – Pro cyclist/ coach and owner of Breck Bike Guides in Breckenridge, CO.
The first thing I usually hear as a yoga instructor is “Yoga sounds great but I’m not flexible.” Let me tell you, the tighter you are – the more yoga will benefit you, the more imbalanced you are from upper to lower body – the more it will benefit you, interested in getting a leg up in racing – do yoga, want to recover faster – do yoga. If you have a lot of power in your quads/hamstrings and your shoulders round forward due to long days in the saddle – open up your chest and stretch your legs and you will see your power, endurance and balance increase.If this doesn’t have you sold, just try 10 minutes a day for 21 days and see how you go. You’ll be hooked mind, body and soul.
I literally started yoga because of my sports – snowboarding, mountain biking, marathons, triathlons, rock climbing, and surfing. Now I teach yoga all over the world to athletes in summer and winter sports. I knew that whatever was going to increase performance and decrease injury was important to me and I wanted to share that with everyone.
Getting down to basics:
Yoga poses help to balance the body, improve flexibility, and make your more resilient on the bike whatever the season. As the body gets conditioned and tightens up with long hours and days in the saddle, recovery become harder and harder – peddling and a static position hunched over the bars. Yoga helps put the body back into balance by lengthening and strengthening the muscles you use and also increases flexibility so your body can bounce back and recover faster.
We all can understand that juicy supple muscles are the way to go, while taut overworked muscles can cause pain and most likely injury. Movement combined with breath will bring not only awareness to the body part but increase the fluid and/or fresh blood to the connective tissue, joints and overused muscles. Breath, focus, meditation in yoga also allows the body to rejuvenate, restore and pause before the next ride – allowing the body to recover better and sleep more soundly. Yoga reduces the cortisol in your body promoting a relaxation response. For athletes, reducing this hormone in the body is the key to a speedy recovery from exercise.
Yoga can improve your power in the saddle. Have you ever felt tight in the lower back during a climb and all of a sudden your legs seem to drain of all their power? Try opening up your hips in yoga, it will release the lower back making your body more flexible, relaxed and efficient.
Here are some poses to start with:
Pigeon or Eye of the Needle
Legs up the Wall
Also, try to find a Vinyasa Flow, Yoga for Athletes or Yin Yoga Class in your area. If you can’t find classes at home, Yoga Glo has online yoga classes for cyclists.
For tips, tricks, yoga poses, classes and retreats for athletes as well as nutrition programs for energy and performance, you can contact Christina at Christina@swellfitliving.com or find her and see where she happens to be in the world at Swell Fit Living.
Christina McGrath – World Traveler, Adventurer, Yoga and Nutrition Coach, Lover of Bikes