YOGA – It’s not just for Girls
Photos courtesy of Craig Ferguson – http://www.craigfergusonimages.com
Yep, that’s right, yoga is good for the guys too and just about perfect for the serious cyclist who wishes to transcend beyond the perceived ceiling! I have been living in China for the past almost five years and in that time I have witnessed yoga becoming increasingly popular amongst Chinese women – its a new fashion fitness trend. But, very few Chinese men are doing yoga – in the past year I have seen one other Chinese male attend the yoga class I regularly attend. Usually its the wife or girl-friend that does the yoga session and the guy sits in the corner to pump iron or runs on the treadmill. Chinese men still have the view that yoga is for females only and will not be seen dead in a yoga class full of women.
Doing yoga is a great way to spend more time with your significant other. I was motivated to attend yoga classes with my wife and quickly saw benefits accrue from regular sessions, sometimes up to four times a week! The year 2013 was a bad year for me in terms of injuries – dislocating my shoulders four times; resulting in very vulnerable and sore shoulder joints that kept irritating me. My flexibility was way down and I could not even place my elbow flat on the small of my back, let alone link hands behind my back. I saw yoga as the perfect rehabilitation program and as a way to lose weight and improve my flexibility. Even more important since I was not getting any younger, approaching the ripe age of 40 years. I really believe that my consistency in attending yoga classes really contributed towards my injury free year (relatively speaking) and made training in the saddle that much more enjoyable. My weight loss was also quite amazing, dropping from an overweight 93kg at the beginning of February 2014 and dropping to a stable 78kg by early October, just in time for my biggest batch of racing that would see me line up for 24 race days over a six week period! Yoga definitely helped me achieve my goals I set for 2014.
For the upcoming 2015 year, I highly recommend to try yoga and stick at it for several months at least so you can actually see the benefits. It will truly give you greater aerobic strength, flexibility and razor-sharp focus. By adopting yoga as part of your training program, you will emerge a different type of machine and one that will scale to different heights never scaled before your yoga days. Yoga also helps you stay injury free, as for me in 2014, I did have several crashes with some light road rash but more importantly my shoulders stayed intact and I am seeing my flexibility come back. I can now link my hands behind my back and lift heavy objects without grimacing in pain.
Its recommended that you attend yoga classes regularly – ideally 2-3 times a week but if you can’t make the time for the sessions, then once a week will be better than nothing at all. When in yoga classes, you want to focus on your leg strength and balance; many of the classic yoga poses actually target this area. Another great benefit of yoga is the improved lower back strength and this will pay dividends when you are out on long endurance rides. Many riders have tight hip flexors from the hours spent bent forward over the handle bars. Yoga, in short, will make you more efficient on the bike and fresher longer – this will be the killer stroke needed to outpace your breakaway companions at the end of a long road race! Don’t forget that a pro bike fit is also very important – check out Winston Tam at Friday BikeFit
So, forget about the misconceptions of yoga and embrace it as part of your training plan for 2015; you will not regret it and you’ll be poised for a break-out year on the bike.