YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUT YOGA FOR CYCLISTS, ANSWERED.
Developed in partnership with Abi Carver of Yoga15.com, The Sufferfest Yoga for Cyclists program is a series of 41 yoga videos designed specifically for endurance athletes. Most of the sessions are 15 minutes or less, making it easy to incorporate yoga into your training to build functional strength, improve flexibility, speed recovery, reduce injury, and put more power to the pedals.
We recently sat down with Abi to ask her some of the most common questions we hear from those of you who want to start getting the benefits of yoga.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IS THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT FOR A BASIC SETUP TO PRACTICE YOGA?
Abi: All you need is a proper yoga mat. Get the best you can reasonably afford to avoid unnecessary frustration. Blocks can be helpful if you are very inflexible. If you're practicing at a gym, a mirror can be wonderful for checking your alignment.
Q: I CAN’T SEE THE SCREEN IN MANY POSITIONS AND SINCE I DON’T KNOW THE NAMES OF THE POSITIONS, I SOMETIMES FIND THE VIDEOS DIFFICULT TO FOLLOW. WHAT CAN I DO?
Abi: Stick with it! Until you are able to do the yoga videos without looking at the screen—responding just to the verbal cues—feel free to stop and start the sequence whenever you need to check the alignment of a pose. You don’t need to remember the names of the poses (be grateful I haven’t given you the Sanskrit names). I'll always talk you through how to do each pose and what the objective is. Start where you are and trust in the process. Yoga works.
Q: I UNDERSTAND YOGA IS A PROCESS BUT HOW QUICKLY CAN I START TO SEE PROGRESS AND IMPROVEMENT?
Abi: Instantly. But like many things you have to stick with it to get the best results. I recommend you practice at least 3 times a week. Pain relief, serious mobility deficiencies, and poor posture can take weeks, months, or years to completely eliminate. And of course, if you continue to engage in the activities that are making you tight or causing you pain, you’ll have to be even more vigilant with your yoga habit.
Q: AS A YOGA TEACHER TO ENDURANCE ATHLETES, WHAT'S THE BEST EXAMPLE YOU HAVE SEEN HOW YOGA TRULY HELPS CYCLISTS?
Abi: Yoga is particularly effective for cyclists for a number of reasons. Relief of lower back pain, pain in between the shoulder blades and neck pain; improved breathing capacity; faster recovery time between training sessions; it corrects muscular imbalances—tight hips, hamstrings, calves and chest and weak abs, glutes and lower back; it improves focus and concentration and calms anxiety.
Q: WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ARE THE BASIC MISTAKES YOU SEE PEOPLE MAKE WHEN STARTING AND WHAT SHOULD THEY DO TO GUARANTEE THE BEST POSSIBLE PROGRESS?
Abi: The only people I see not finding benefit in yoga are those who don’t commit to get the most out of their sessions. If it is a strength workout, try your best to engage the muscles you are working. If you are doing a flexibility routine, relax into the stretches and use your breath to increase your suppleness. If you are doing a relaxation sequence, be present and enjoy the sensations of relaxation without letting your mind wander off to planning the rest of your day. Be consistent. Practice without distractions. Appreciate yourself for sticking to your goals.
The other mistake I see is that is specific to a particular set of poses is rounding the lower back in forward bends instead of bending at the knees.The best advice I can give is to approach your practice with a softness. Feel into it. Rather than wanting to conquer yoga or force your body into positions it has no desire to be in. Try to learn as much as you can about your body and about your mind during your 15 minute daily practice and the rewards will be quite remarkable.Good luck yogis. I believe in you.