Many athletes do yoga because they love the experience of it. Personally, I don’t. But I value the benefit enough that I do it regularly. And yoga has a particular value in the off season when we hang up the bike and look to undo many of the imbalances that built up during the season.
“Dysfunctions don’t happen overnight, and they will not be reversed overnight either,” says TAG Performance strength and conditioning coach Jess Elliott. Give it at least a month.
Jennifer Real, a physician and professional eRacer on Team Saris-NoPinz, does yoga year-round. “I think it’s great for stability and neuromuscular changes,” she points out. Real does 45 minutes each week on her recovery days, but gets in 10-15 minutes almost daily.
If you’re just starting out…
A proper yoga session is not just a fancy form of stretching. It combines flexibility with strength, stability, and core work. Research on stretching alone in athletes has shown that it can actually contribute to injury by damaging connective tissue and reducing stability during exercise. Because yoga combines flexibility, strength, and stability, the same negative effects do not appear to hold true.
Elliott recommends researching instructors and their background. Make sure they are credentialed. Find one who offers regression and progression poses so you can scale to your ability. Do not work with an instructor who pushes you too quickly into advanced poses. There are many styles of yoga and you should explore a few.
Workout of the Week: Yoga
45 min. to 1 hr. yoga session. If you are new to yoga, try a hatha or yin yoga class for a good introductory style.