The Yoga of Bicycling
In my previous post about bicycling (Satsang on Bicycles) I had talked about the great joy of bicyling in the Sierra Foothills, especially when joined by gurubais. The more I ride my bicycle in this area, the more I am convinced we live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world. The neighboring roads with their light traffic, great surface quality and surrounded by amazing natural beauty, make every ride a very sattwic event.
Lately I have also been noticing how well the yogic principles apply to effective cycling. In energization exercises we learn to get in touch with the life force and energy flowing through our bodies and to direct it to the certain limbs and muscles. In Ananda Yoga we extend that practice and further try to internalize that energy, drawing it into our spine and directing it to the spiritual eye.
In cycling too, with focus, one can minimize the amount of energy used by any other body part except the legs. By relaxing the shoulders, keeping the spine in its neutral position, we allow the energy to move more freely inside the body and direct it to the legs. By practicing full diaphragmatic breathing (as in hatha yoga practice), we can send more oxygen to the muscles that need it as their fuel.
During Spiritual Renewal Week of this year at Ananda Village, Gyandev (Director of the Ananda Yoga Teacher Training) shared a story about when he was weightlifting in the gym with friends. He said that one of his friends said to another one day: “Why do you make such a face when you lift weights? You should be taking the energy that you put into making that face and put it into lifting more weight!”
When doing a time trial absolute focus is essential. If the mind wanders away from the focus of continuous power to the legs, the body forgets what it was doing, becomes lazy and slows down. With focus, one can continuously keep the pistons moving at their peak capacity. When we take what we learn from our yoga practice and start putting it into action in our daily lives we soon find out that true yoga does not start and end on the mat. It becomes a part of our being that we continuously strive to stay in touch with.
With my dear friends Bob and JT, we made several trips to Downieville and beyond from Ananda Village. It’s one of my favorite routes due to its scenery, most of which consists of riding next to the North Yuba river inside a beautiful canyon. I was telling Bob that when driving that road, it seems like Downieville is so far away, whereas when bicycling the same route, it is not the same. He smiled and said: “You know why? Because, when you are riding, you are already there.” It’s so true.
Next year for Ananda’s 40’th anniversary, we are organizing a 40+ mile ride for whoever would like to join us in celebration. We’ll have a lunch break half-way through by the North Yuba River and then return to Ananda Village in the afternoon. If you would like to join us, please drop me a note. I would love to hear from you.