orey is a Digital Producer and Account Manager at Rival Schools who loves to cycle, run, and eat! Corey has been using Bikram Yoga since last November to cross train for his cycling and in this article he gives us the inside scoop on how his yoga practice has helped to improve his bike racing. Read on to find out how:
Hometown: Vancouver, BC
When did you start practicing Bikram Yoga? Why did you start?
I started last year to help recover from nagging running injuries – muscle strains. I discovered that the cause was actually weakness in my lower abdomen/core. Bikram Yoga has really improved my strength over the last 9 months.
Do you remember your first class? Tell us how it went!
My first class was hot, and it was extremely difficult. I was surprised at how difficult it was in comparison to the yoga I had been practicing beforehand. I thought that since I had been practicing yyoga about once a week that I would find the class only a moderate challenge but it was really tough. I still find almost every class difficult, but you get out what you put into any sport and I always try to do my best … whatever that is, on that particular day.
Now you continue to use Bikram Yoga to cross train for your bike racing – how does it aid your cycling?
I have been and continue to train for several bike races. I completed the 240km Ride To Conquer Cancer this year, the 115km GranFondo Kelowna, and next on the list is the 120km GranFondo Whistler.
A lot of cyclists have weak cores from over-dependence on their quads and gluteus and I was the same. I find a real improvement in my endurance from building so much added strength in my core. I especially notice the difference during long climbs. During the Granfondo Kelowna there was over 1700 meters of climbing total but I was able to finish really strong and beat my goal time by 30 minutes. I was so happy with my finishing time! I attribute a lot of my improvement to the heat training in the room, learning how to control my body with my breath, and the added core, leg, and glute strength from Bikram.
Just as Bikram Yoga can help your biking skills, how do you think biking/racing helps to improve your practice in Bikram Yoga?
A lot of what I have learned about not giving up and digging deep from running and cycling races has really helped me in the Bikram Hot Room. I actually have a really hard time with the heat in the room, and I also find it difficult to stay hydrated because of the distance training I do outside the room, but I have learned to dig deep and stick with the practice even when I want to stop. There is always a finish line in any race and lots of times I just remind myself that I am only 3, 4, or 5 poses from the end of practice.
We’ve heard a lot of bikers say that Bikram Yoga helps the mental challenge of cycling like focus, determination, and attitude. Would you agree? If so, how does it help you mentally?
Bikram absolutely helps me with the mental focus needed for any race. When I feel like I am close to heat exhaustion and fatigued with zero energy, but then I still manage to finish class, I realize that I am stronger mentally than I realize. The second benefit is learning to relax and enjoy the physical exertion i.e. when I am in hands to feet pose and the teacher reminds me to smile, this is something that I have learned to apply to racing. When I am working hard to keep my pace, or on a steep climb, I smile and realize that if I control my attitude I will use less energy and actually have better endurance.
We have to ask – do you have an inspirational quote that motivates you to keep going? Something you use as a kind of mantra or life motto?
“Do or do not, there is no try” I actually repeat this when I feel I am close to zero on a ride – especially when climbing & when I come to life I repeat a mantra Stuart Smally from Saturday Night Live taught me “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it people like me”
What is a piece of advice you’d suggest to Bikram newbies on their first day?
Just relax and focus on learning the poses without comparing yourself to the person next to you. You will have lots of time to become more flexible and develop the washboard stomach you see on your neighbour!
Any great tips for biking the streets in Vancouver? Great links or inside knowledge?
I use www.MeetUp.com to help me organize two weekly rides departing from Science World on Saturday/s and Sunday’s. It is a great place to meet other cyclists who are organizing some really great adventures. Another site MapMyRide.com is also a great place to find new routes for training so that things don’t get stale. I also use http://www.dailymile.com/people/CoreyT – I use DailyMile as a journal for my cycling, and also as a way to meet cyclists, runners, and yogi’s in the US that I can meet and practise with when I travel.
Follow Corey’s journey on twitter – @seetracey
Do you use Bikram Yoga to cross train for your sport? Share your story with us and contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Remember this month you can cycle into yoga, show us your helmet, and receive a 20% discount on time and class series packages!