How Yoga has Helped Pro Cyclist Gen Whitson Manage Stress

How Yoga has Helped Pro Cyclist Gen Whitson Manage Stress

Professional cyclist and Meadowlark Yoga student Gen Whitson tells us more about how attaining that elusive sense of calm has helped her in competition and everyday life.

It’s been a gradual process of awareness over the last 18 months that I have become notably calmer and coped with everyday ‘stresses’ better since finding a place for yoga in my life.

I meet people who say they aren’t sleeping well, say they can’t stop fixating on things, feel that they are wired and generally feeling in fight or flight mode and I honestly want to personally escort these people into Meadowlark Yoga myself. Why? Because yoga calms the body/mind and has so many added health benefits that I can’t vouch for it enough. Do yoga and feel calmer – it really is that simple.

The simple act of doing Surya Namaskar A&B yoga poses which involve placing your hands and feet firmly on the ground is excellent for grounding people and reminding all of us that we only have the present moment, so stay with it! Sometimes just doing these two sequences a few times over is enough to calm me down or lower my heart rate, hugely beneficial before a bike race when nerves can go through the roof.

Ashtanga yoga puts a large​ focus on breathing and this very act gently brings the heart rate down, helps the muscles & shoulders release tension and the chitter chatter in the head quietens down. It gives people the chance to let go and revive the body. Our bodies tolerate a lot in this modern day and age. We live a very different lifestyle to our ancestors which involves packing more into a day, travelling much farther a field and and we all need to find ways to unwind and appreciate the now.

So much of what we consider to be stress is the mind racing -planning, worrying, thinking about the past, fantasising about the future, wondering, anticipating and doing anything but being present. If you are present in the moment there isn’t space to be thinking about what has been or what it is coming – it’s like the great saying goes:

If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.— Lao Tzu

And with lower stress levels you start noticing other changes in your life. Less reactions to other people and less reactions from other people – difficult problems and situations suddenly seem to have negotiable outcomes, sleep patterns can regulate, health improves and a greater sense of self is felt. Things start flowing more, with less struggle and it becomes easier to map out where you are going. A calmer mind means calmer outcomes.

You may not have time in your schedule to do yoga every week and that is okay. Just committing to one class once every few weeks and honouring yourself by actually going is enough to start creating change and seeing stress levels drop. Our body and our mind thoroughly deserve the replenishment that yoga can offer us.

Meadowlark Yoga

Visit our studio on the edge of the Meadows, open 7 days a week offering Ashtanga Vinyasa and other styles of yoga. 43 Argyle Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1JT 0131 2287581