I love listening to interviews that ask, “what advice would you give your younger self if you had the opportunity to go back in time?” Answers range from ‘if it weren’t for those experiences then I wouldn’t be where I am today’ to ‘I’d take the other Y in the road’. And my advice to my younger self would be: yoga.
After injuring my back a few years ago, I sought help from various medical professionals: chiropractors, my primary care physician, massage therapists - basically anyone who could help me figure out what was going on and how to best manage the pain. The chiropractic work helped - temporarily - but my gut told me that I needed to find something that I could keep coming back to over the years, something that was long term.
I became a regular at The Hidden Yoga Studio in Niwot, Colorado. I gravitated to this small space with skilled and encouraging instructors and instead of just going through the motions, slowed things down and really observed what was going on in my body. I had to find a balance at first though - riding 15+ hours a week and suddenly opening up my hamstrings was tight psoas was going to take some time. Forward folds opened up a little bit more space in my back and though my back bends were pretty ugly at first (while laying on my stomach, I could barely lift my chest off the floor more than an inch), I kept with it. I started going to yoga once a month, then once a week, then twice and next thing I knew I was signing up for a 30 day challenge and crushing it (cue the competitive yogi).
It’s one thing to go to class everyday and unroll your mat - it’s another to do it with intention and slowing things down, getting really curious about what feels good and what doesn’t in your body. I hired Allie Geer, a Yoga Medicine Therapeutic Yoga Specialist and we started working one one one on the basics: my feet and a deep connection to my core.
The more I learned about my own body and the enormous benefits specific movements could help relieve pain and strengthen the connection between the body and mind, the more I wanted to share this with others. How can you apply this knowledge to riding the bike? As you ride your bike, what if you expand across your heart space, opening up your diaphragm and focusing on the breath? Can I squeeze more out of my performance? What if you strengthen your core and use the deep pelvic floor muscles to push from, and tap into various chakras? Will that put me in a better position to get a top the podium?
The answer is yes. Absolutely.
I came into yoga with an agenda: heal and strengthen my back and apply this strength to going fast and far on the bike and as an educator and coach, share this knowledge with others. Last September I signed up for a 200hour yoga teacher training certification and the benefits of breaking down the poses and getting a solid foundation of the eight limbs of yoga, blew my mind. I graduate at the end of June and am amazed at the vast material we’ve covered - from warrior one to anatomy, to sanskrit to pranayama (breathing techniques), cueing and so much more. It’s really just getting your feet wet in the vast ocean of knowledge in the yoga community.
I look forward to sharing this knowledge with all of you in the coming months and years!