When you do strenuous workouts on an exercise bike, it takes some getting used to swapping your bike for a yoga mat. However, did you know that yoga is actually a great addition to your Indoor Cycling workouts? Below, you can read about the five benefits of yoga when you combine it with Indoor Cycling.
Benefit 1: Yoga enhances muscle recovery
After an intensive workout, your muscles need to recover because your muscles have exerted themselves and need to rest. During these resting periods, you allow your muscles to grow. If you exercise the same muscle groups too many times in a row, you are working against this growth process. However, you can do flexibility exercises between workouts. When you use Yoga to focus on this, you give yourself the chance to grow your muscles while at the same time allowing them to rest.
Yoga also reduces stress. Perhaps you can sense how stress is stored in your body. Stress causes excessive levels of cortisol, a hormone that can cause muscle breakdown. By regularly following a yoga class, you reduce the production of cortisol, which in turn has a positive effect on the preservation of your muscle tissue.
Benefit 2: Yoga enhances breathing
During a yoga session you will learn how to breathe correctly and comfortably. Although you are often not aware of it, good breathing techniques are an art these days. We often breathe too high in the chest, unconsciously hold our breath or we breathe in and out too briefly. This is associated with many discomforts. In addition to fatigue, it can cause dizziness and lack of concentration. Do your muscles develop lactic acid quickly? If so, become more aware of your breathing for a while and ask yourself if your muscles are actually getting enough oxygen.
During a yoga session you learn to regulate your breathing. By making your breathing become deeper and take longer, your body enters into recovery mode. During yoga, you shift your breathing from your chest to your belly and use it to do your exercises. This makes your workout a lot more pleasant and you will also be able to keep going for longer.
Benefit 3. Yoga focuses on strength
If you think yoga is only about meditation, you are wrong! Yoga has long been regarded as a form of spirituality, but it is much more than that. Yoga provides strength, both mentally and physically, and you will notice this in your muscles over time. Where strength training focuses on building your muscles, yoga is primarily focused on making your muscles more flexible and lengthening them. However, because yoga is such a balanced form of movement, you will gradually notice that your muscles are also being built up.
You will notice that, apart from the basic yoga exercises that include many recovery exercises, there are also regular challenges to complete exercises that are quite intensive.
Benefit 4. Yoga is good for your mental health
Yoga does not only increase your physical strength: just like Indoor Cycling, yoga is also good for your mental health. It reduces anxiety, stress and tension, as demonstrated by research. ‘The Health Benefits of Yoga and Exercise: A Review of Comparison Studies’. Our instructor Pauline agrees with this and adds: ‘Yoga helps relaxation, processing of stimuli and organizing your thoughts. It also enhances sleep and improves the ability to focus’.
These days, our brains are constantly switched on. With a bit of bad luck, you will notice this at night as soon as you lie down in your bed and your to-do lists continue to run through your head. Do you feel as if you can’t find any peace and quiet in your body? Or do you demand a lot from yourself? It is exactly at that time that it pays to drop everything and do a (short) yoga session. You will notice how this calms your brain and allows your body to relax. As mentioned earlier, yoga reduces the production of cortisol, which reduces your stresses. You will not only create space in your body, but also in your head.
Benefit 5. Yoga eases pain
Pauline, our own yoga teacher, started doing yoga because she noticed how her body was feeling stiff and full of tension. Various studies have shown that yoga is able to ease pain and physical discomfort. This applies not only to chronic and/or serious conditions such as MS, immune system disorders or cancer, but also to back and neck complaints for example.
This makes logical sense in the latter case especially considering that back and neck problems are often stress-related. Restore relaxation in these areas and give your muscles more space. This will improve blood flow and create more calmness in your body. There are several specific yoga exercises that can ease various aches and pains. For example, there are people who suffer less from migraines or tension headaches by practicing yoga on a regular basis.