One of the common misconceptions surrounding yoga is that it is just for women. Try telling that to Ryan Giggs and numerous other professional athletes whose careers have benefited from practising this art (and in some cases extended their careers because of it). With the Tour de France just around the corner, it feels right to look at the benefits it has to cycling. Being hunched over the handlebars and peddling through your personal wall is a recipe ripe for causing injuries to your knees, backs, quads and hamstrings. Yoga strengthens and stretches these parts of your body as well as strengthening your core enabling you to go longer and further. Its focus on flexibility, finding the edge and staying balanced brings everything together and will help power you through your limits whilst on your bike.
Yoga is not just about the outer physical limits, but it also helps you focus your mind and all round awareness. One of the direct benefits of this inner focus from yoga is that you become more aware of your breathing which is directly linked to your output. Strengthening this mind-body connection will help you concentrate on your cadence. By bringing awareness to your breath you can clear your mind of all distractions and fill your lungs ready to sprint.
The improved strength you will gain from practising yoga will also enhance recovery and impede injury as not only does it circulate lactic acid out of muscle tissue, it engages important yet under-developed muscles creating a more balanced and optimally functional body. This will allow for greater range of movements that will aid the marginal gains that is necessary to fulfil your physical potential. For example, a swimmer with more supple shoulder and hip joints can capture and pull more water than one with a limited range of movement.
Bringing clarity Studies have shown that the power of visualisation yoga supports will help in all your goals. Be it on the road whilst cycling, kicking a ball in the park or simply sitting behind your desk at work, building relaxation and mental clarity through yoga is a powerful tool to harness your focus and visualise success.
So if you believe that yoga is just for women on a Saturday morning, then you are very much mistaken. It is accessible for everyone and for all goals. Its beauty is that it can help you become healthier and more relaxed (dare I say, Zen), as well as give you the added edge in physical activity.
Lycra is optional ;)
If you want a holistic yoga retreat that takes you away from your current hectic lifestyle, then why not try the Portuguese Yoga Retreat? If you fancy something a bit more nautical, then the Yoga on the Adriatic experience could be for you.
If you're ready for it, then test yourself on our epic Ride Hannibal's Trail cycle experience.