A wink and a smile. Peanut butter and jelly. Gin and tonic. Some things just go well together.
Such is the case with yoga and bicycling. Trisha and I discussed this lovely combination in 2009, and I mentioned recently that I’ve begun practicing yoga every weekday morning.
So when I read about Pedal, Stretch, Breathe: The Yoga of Bicycling, a new ‘zine written by Kelli Refer of the blog Yoga for Bikers and published by Elly Blue of Taking the Lane, I decided to order a copy.
While the 44 page booklet is not a comprehensive guide, it outlines interesting links between bicycling and yoga, beginning with the importance of breathing fresh air and ending with the ability “to invite meaningful change into our communities.” In between is practical information with action steps for integrating the practice of yoga with bicycling. While some of the information is aimed at those taking long, sporty rides, much is applicable for those – like me – who simply ride for transportation.
The first half of the booklet provides several different yoga poses that either integrate a bicycle into the pose or are especially helpful for bodies subject to the repetitive motion of cycling. Each pose is presented with a sketch and a description. The poses can be performed either directly on the bike while waiting at a stop light or with more space pre or post-ride.
My friends Chika and Sara were cool enough to experiment with and demonstrate the poses when we met up for a free yoga class on Lake Michigan. Below are their thoughts on a few of the poses.
They started with Dancer’s Pose: Natarajasana: a little hard to balance while standing over a bike, but otherwise easy to do while waiting at a stoplight. Good for the thigh and ankle, which both get a lot of strain from bicycling.
Heart Opener: feels good! especially after leaning over handlebars.
Turn Around Twist: not much of a twist feeling…
…but they achieved more leverage by putting the front hand in the middle of the handlebars, allowing for a fuller twist.
Down Dog with your Bike: feels good, would work as a pre or post-ride stretch, but obviously not at a stoplight.
Down Dog Twist: even better!
The booklet offers several different flow variations for these and other poses. After completing this series of poses, Chika and Sara said they felt warmed up and ready to go and could see themselves enjoying these poses on their own. Two thumbs up from my testers. :-)
The second part of the booklet contains a basic guide to chakras “for you and your bike.” Some of this I’m not really into, such as “true your wheels and repack your hubs to feel more freewheeling in life.” But some is inspiring, such as bicycling as a moving meditation.
Consider your bike ride to be a moving mediation. Notice all the sensations: Air on skin, steady breath, sweat rolling down your brow. Move with keen awareness of your body and surroundings.
I need a recording of those words read in a calm, yoga-teacher voice to play whenever I get frustrated by heat, cold, potholes, or drivers.
Overall, Pedal, Stretch, Breathe is a unique and thoughtful read for those interested in both bicycling and yoga. Definitely worth $5, especially considering the money supports cool, entrepreneurial women. You can buy the ‘zine HERE and read more about the topic at Yoga for Bikers.
Now that I find myself doing heart openers at stoplights, I’m curious: do any of you incorporate yoga into your bicycling routine?