Hot Yoga and Mountain Biking have so much in common. Both activities highlight the importance of the mental game.
We are sure some mountain bikers think that when you go to a Hot Yoga studio, that all you do is prance around in very little clothing and stretch your body into weird positions. They wonder, how can this make you a more skilled mountain biker?
Well to start it provides mental and physical awareness that compliments the challenges you meet out on the trail. It encourages you to be mindful of your breathing during long climbs and shortens your recovery time after those intense rides. The essence of yoga is to “strengthen and lengthen” what every mountain biker needs after a day hunched over the handlebars.
The great thing about building flexibly through yoga is that mountain biking is obviously not great for our flexibility, so they are very complimentary. Many mountain bikers experience lower back pain. Is that about lack of strength? People often think so, and try to compensate by doing a bunch of sit-ups (which can be horrible for your spine) or other core exercises. Some of that is great, but the leading cause of lower back pain in these cases is tight hamstrings. If the hamstrings are tight, they’ll pull on the lower back, leading to pain. At yoga, we hold long stretching poses and this teaches us a lot about paying attention to where we are tight in our body especially after a ride.
Many yoga postures help develop strength by putting us in positions where we need to recruit more muscle than we are accustomed to. So, when we get into trouble on our bikes, and need to take fast action without thinking, we have more tools to work with, more ability to adapt our position and can more thoroughly activate our muscles and overall strength.
When the riding gets tough, we ask ourselves, are we breathing deeply and rhythmically or are just telling ourselves to BREATHE BREATHE BREATHE BREATHE? Yoga teaches us to breathe effectively. Breathe consistently and with more awareness in class helps us on the challenging single track climbs. When our breathing is compensated in yoga we understand that it’s not about forcing things, but slowly and steadily progressing in our postures. We use this tool on our bikes when we climb and think to ourselves we must earn our turns!
The injuries from mountain biking finally catch up to you at some point like arthritis, bursitis or scar tissue build up. We have all had some pretty big crashes on the bike and spent some time in our dark place thinking about what happened, how did I end up here and what to do next. One of the best ways we have found to get back in the saddle is through yoga. It speeds up the healing in the body by stopping blood flow to joints, ligaments, organs and muscles for short periods of time and then replaces these areas with oxygenated and high speed blood.
We find the more yoga that we do the better we ride because we breathe better, have more effective strength, focus, flexibility and balance. There’s a lot we can do off the bike to support today’s ride, tomorrow’s and those we hope to enjoy in the decades to come.
Sometimes the hardest part of Hot Yoga is just trying it for the first time. Force yourself to be more balanced in how you exercise and recover. You will have more fun in the long run.
Try Hot Yoga for yourself. Make your riding and your life a little easier and a lot better.
So, if you are an experienced racer in the start gate of an important race, or you are a beginner trying something new for the first time take 20 seconds of stillness to focus on your breathing, to clear your mind and conquer the task at hand.
HOT YOGA BENEFITS for MOUNTAIN BIKERS:
- RECOVERY TIME
- INJURY PREVENTION