When I first moved to the Bay Area in 2004, I came without a car. A bike was my primary mode of transportation for the next 2 years. I typically traveled twice a week from Sausalito to San Francisco and back. What a commute! The ride out of and into Sausalito and over the Golden Gate was thrilling, and the views were spectacular. At the same time, I began a steady Anusara style yoga practice. I was amazed with my increased arm strength and the degree to which I could then move into Chaturanga Dandasana. In general, my awareness of how cycling and yoga complement each other well grew. On days with long rides, I went into a meditative trance, feeling in tune with my bike, the wind, the road and motion. I found it akin to surfing albeit on pavement. On days with shorter bike commutes, I found a similar mind-body-soul connection with the practice of asanas. Gradually, I began experimenting with my bike posture to find the spinal length and freedom I kept on returning to in my yoga practice. Nonetheless, with a terrifically wet winter in 2006, I finally broke down and purchased a car.
Today, while my bike commute differs dramatically time-wise, my understanding of how, specifically Iyengar style, yoga offers an excellent complement to biking has increased tremendously.
With the repetitive movements and bent-over posture of cycling, my Iyengar yoga education focused on alignment reveals how as a cyclist, I accentuated my original structural imbalances. After those years of commuter biking, my lower back was compromised, my knees were weak and my wrists and forearm muscles were tight thus highlighting and adding to the stuck areas in my middle and upper back.
Even though my body and I are a decade older since those days of my SF-Sausalito bike commute, with the regular practice of Iyengar yoga, I can easily squat, no longer have lower back pain, have growing awareness in my middle and upper back and am continually releasing tension in my shoulders, wrists and forearms. My flexibility has increased, and my pranayama practice enhances my mental acuity. These all add to my cycling technique and safety, especially with shorter, more heavily trafficked urban commutes.
In sum, I am thrilled to teach the upcoming Cyclists’ workshop. Here’s a chance to teach from my own experience how Iyengar yoga benefits cyclists for rides to come. Come join me Wednesdays July 13th & 20th, 7:30 – 9pm.
*Please note: practice without bike accessories. Helmets hinder the practice.