by Genevieve Whitson
As a competitive cyclist, and someone always looking for a clean, healthy advantage to my fitness, doing regular yoga sessions seems like a no brainer to me. My only regret is that I didn’t discover yoga earlier in my life. I started practicing in 2008 and fell in love with ashtanga yoga in 2012 when I discovered Meadowlark yoga in Edinburgh. To think of all those missed years without yoga…Since I started practicing I’ve seen big gains: increased fitness, well-being, a calmer state of mind, increased flexibility and a more focused race brain. The question I’d like to put to all of you is, if you aren’t doing yoga already, what’s holding you back?
Yoga has become fairly mainstream these days, but it is still under-utilised by athletes. So much time is put into training the body on a bike, or at a gym or running around a park, but yoga can assist with joint and muscle flexibility, the nervous system and your mental well being, which are just as important, if not more so, than having trained purely the body’s mechanical functions. A happy healthy athlete is generally a performing athlete. You can’t have one without the other!
And if you have ever felt intimidated or worried about entering a yoga studio, there is absolutely nothing to fear with the staff or environment at Meadowlark. Everyone is encouraging and supportive and it’s very much a personal development process, rather than feeling like you are in competition with the person next to you. In my first session, Karen Kirkness (Founder of Meadowlark Yoga), patiently guided me through the basic vinyasa flow course while I awkwardly tried the poses and breathing techniques. My body was so happy to be getting stretched out from the stereotypical position on a bike that I left the class feeling ‘freed up’ and bounced across the Meadows home!
From my 9 years experience of practicing yoga and fitting it in as part of my strength, conditioning and flexibility plan, I can absolutely confirm that it has made a HUGE difference to my performance as an athlete. I do yoga weekly now. I’m extremely grateful to have access to the classes, because without them, my body tends to seize up (I’m like a bike, I need a good tuning to stay moving!). I try and stretch after workouts but nothing quite hits the spot like a good yoga session.
There is so much variety of classes to choose from at Meadowlark Yoga. Sometimes my body needs a ‘gentle’ slow workout, whereas other times it wants to move fast and be more active, but there is always a class to accommodate for this. The excitement now is seeing the progression and new movement in my body that was once never there – backbends have taken place, shoulder stands have been mastered and hip openers are in progress.
So my advice is to simply take the plunge and try – it does not matter where your body is currently at, even just one class will get things moving on the inside for the better.