That’s right, as Aspen prepares for one of the most anticipated cycling seasons in its history with the Aspen Cycling Fest just around the corner and the USA Pro Challenge Race kicking off the first and the second stage of the race in August, cyclists in the Aspen area are stepping up their game and improving their cross-training with perhaps the least expected form of exercise of all; yoga.
This may seem counter-intuitive within the cycling community, cyclists commonly accept the significance of a weight training regime as a complimentary aspect in their training, particularly in the off-season when winter weather blocks roads and makes cycling outdoors difficult. A balanced weight-training regime plays a critical role in the development of other parts of the body enabling the complimentary muscles to support the cyclist and help the cyclist to avoid injury.
However yoga enters the cycling fitness picture from an entirely different angle, but with many of the same objectives. According to USA Cycling, yoga helps cyclists to develop better balance on their bike, more stability, flexibility and focus. Cyclists sustain a great deal of stress on their bodies during their rigorous training, yoga offers the body reprieve from this strain while still providing a good workout. A common side effect of this strain is tightness in the back, hips and hamstrings. Yoga increases flexibility and stretches these parts of the body out, relieving tightness and creating a more fluid movement on the bike.
Cyclists build muscle and increase speed on their bikes and in the gym, but they are also notorious for lacking in core body strength. Core strength, although critical for riders is not developed by riding the bike, nor is it commonly focused on in the gym. The core development in yoga increases the strength of riders in their abs and lower back. Such strength actually decreases pain many riders experience while in the saddle after long training rides and races.
Yoga enables athletes to focus their energy, meditate and mentally prepare for races in a way that the gym and the bike do not. Some riders find yoga helps them to cope with the stress of races through breathing exercises learned in yoga classes and meditation. Katheryn Curi Mattis, a former competitive cyclist was quoted by USA Cycling explaining these benefits, “it’s hard to maintain calm under pressure but I would come back to breath work or relaxing my shoulders…fundamentals of the yoga practice that are really applicable.”
Cross training, particularly in a non-competitive format, allows the body and mind to have a break from the grind of in-season training while retaining strength and developing muscle skill.
The Aspen Club and Spa offers a variety of yoga classes from Basic Yoga, Yoga Blend, Kick Asana, a Yoga class focused on breathing, strength and stamina, to Insight Yoga for a more traditional yoga experience, to Iyengar Yoga and Kundalini Yoga. Come on by to see which Yoga class would best compliment your training program today. We would love to talk more about the benefits of yoga on every athlete and fitness enthusiast!