Bikes and Breathing

I haven’t been to a yoga class since returning from vacation, but have been doing a home practice pretty consistently.  What I have been doing a lot of is cycling.  I’ve been trying to do some yoga after each ride for a few reasons – it helps me stretch out and release tension and tightness, while also reminding me of the importance of breathing – smoothly, calmly, deeply and nourishingly.

Less than 2 weeks ago, I bought a road bike and signed up for a metric century ride (that is 65 miles), that was at the time less than a month away.  I now have two and a half weeks until ride day (note, I’m not calling this a race).  My longest ride on this new bike is 32 flat miles, while the route consists of 2700 feet of climbing – mostly in 3 hills that start at mile 40.

Where yoga has been coming in – I’ve been doing some of the daily Yoga Journal videos for their 21 day challenge, but some days I’m finding their practice a little more challenging  than what I want for a rest day when I’m not cycling or for a post ride practice.  I’ve been modifying the poses and since it is only a 30 minute practice – spending at least another 30 minutes doing yin poses.

Where yoga needs to come in – BREATH CONTROL.  As I start up a hill while cycling, especially one I’ve never been up so the unknowns of length and steepness are daunting mysteries to me, I tend to get tense and either hold my breath or start taking more shallow breaths.  What I quickly learned, is that this is a recipe for a small disaster – as I limit the breath and get tense I also limit the ease at which my body is working, making my legs burn, my chest hurt and resulting in white knuckled grasping of the bars and gasping for air when it really isn’t necessary – because I’m not climbing any huge hills on the road bike yet.  The plan is to start the next few bike rides with a couple of breathing exercises so I can enter the ride in a more relaxed state, and hopefully maintain that relaxation.

With so much mountain biking and road biking in the last couple weeks, getting at least 30 minutes (and last Friday as much as 100 minutes) of yin yoga most days has been a gift to my body. I haven’t been sore, I’ve been completely relaxed when it’s time for bed and I recognize those spots that need a little more opening.  Hello hips in full lizard pose!


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