Gear Prudence: I’ve gotten really into bicycling over the past two years and it’s definitely given me much stronger and muscular legs, which is cool. But they feel tight all the time and I feel way less flexible than I used to be. I’m thinking that doing yoga would be a good idea, but I don’t know anything about it. Is there any kind of yoga class that’s especially good for cyclists? Or things that I should know before starting? —Seeking To Regain Elasticity, Taking Class Helps?
Dear STRETCH: GP applauds your willingness to branch out from cycling into a new activity. It shows a great deal of flexibility in your mindset, even if it’s lacking in your muscles. Plus, it’s good that you’ve picked another athletic hobby during which you can wear the stretchy clothes you’ve already purchased for cycling. That’s good multitasking and will cut down on laundry. And yoga tends to be an indoor venture, which will be great for the colder and snowier months when you might find yourself on the bike less.
According to Suzie Wnek, yoga program director and volunteer at BicycleSpace, you don’t need to take a yoga class geared specifically to a bicycling audience. A general class for beginners will more than suit your needs. “Since a cyclist tends to stay in a certain posture while seated, with the legs moving in fairly consistent circles, poses that counter-balance that will be helpful,” she says. “Many basic yoga poses work into the hips, help stabilize the back, and build balance and core strength, all elements a strong cyclist can use.”
Yoga, like cycling, benefits from repetition and dedication and you shouldn’t expect to advance too quickly and regain your former flexibility right away. Also, forget any competitive instincts you might have picked up from chasing Strava records over the past few years. There is no Strava for yoga. [Note to self: invent Strava for cyclist yoga, make all of the money, retire to tropical island]. The increased musculature in your legs might work against you at first, but you’ll definitely start opening up if you keep at it.
Just like when shopping for a bike, it’s OK to check out a few places before committing. “It’s important to find a place where you feel comfortable. Try a few classes before becoming a regular,” Wnek says. “Some bike shops offer yoga classes, some specifically for cyclists, some for broader audiences, and different levels.”
Regardless of where you end up going, make sure your studio has sufficient bike parking. You can ride with your yoga mat slung over your shoulder or shove it into a pannier. GP suggests over the shoulder so everyone knows you’re a double-threat. In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, perhaps it’ll even bring you a greater sense of calm and self-composure—both of which can come in handy on the road. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who tweets as @sharrowsDC. Got a question about bicycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.