What’s Yoga got to do with cycling?

Member Kevin Zwolinski had never tried yoga before, but now gives a candid and amusing review of why he’s become a convert 

“……yes it’s a Yoga session with the cycling club.  But hang on, what’s yoga got to do with your cycling club, it doesn’t involve bikes?  It’s nothing to do with cycling?”

Ah yes but:

I’m new to Yoga.  I was due to go on a group cycling holiday last year with Yoga sessions before and after the rides each day in Mallorca.  Thanks to Covid that never happened, but I was getting interested as a means of defeating aches and pains, and a balance issue I was experiencing.  I had a couple of one-on-one sessions which I tried to fit in to hectic working days – big mistake, it doesn’t work like that.  I managed to fall asleep on the floor in the preliminary calming down period, twice…

So what exactly am I doing this for?  What am I expecting to get out of it?  More an experiment than anything else, and after an ear infection early last year that upset my balance, a lot of what I had researched on the subject pointed to Yoga and Pilates (even the GP said, “yes any of that sort of stuff will help your balance”).  And I am so glad I did.  I’m still finding my feet, but that doesn’t bother me one jot.  I love it and it is working for me, and I want to do more.

So yes, Banbury Star Cyclings’ Club has had a weekly Yoga session on a Tuesday evening through the winter Covid months, free of charge.  They are run by the inspiring Jackie Balchin as our tutor, who has a brilliant knack of pitching the teaching ‘just right’.  Nothing is taken too seriously, and she laughs as she guides us through those amazing routines.  Quite how Jackie can talk and breathe when bent double with a leg in the air, and at the same time check that the move can be seen on the screen is beyond me, I’ve heard of multi-tasking, but for a bloke that’s just trying to do two things at once… (note – trying).   As the moves are demonstrated, Jackie makes it clear that it doesn’t matter if “you can’t get down this far”, well just as well eh?  But seriously, we are invited to do our own version of the move, which is really good “just go as far as you can but try to keep your feet flat on the floor”. This also gives you something to aim for and some much-needed confidence when you do actually get some of it ‘spot-on’.

As a beginner, I need to watch the screens so that I can follow how the moves work, or how they are supposed to work. Sometimes that can be a challenge whilst squirming around on the floor with a knee and elbow in unfamiliar places.  Thing is the moves are generally slow, so you don’t miss very much.  Also, as we progress, the patterns are starting to build in my little brain and I can even remember some sequences – “ah, this is a Warrior coming up”, which is quite nice.  That means you can listen and get on with it, I’m finding that I don’t have to watch the screen all of the time.  Just as well everyone is muted by Jackie as the leader on Zoom, it saves others from hearing the thump and subsequent expletives when I, and I expect other beginners, ‘get a sway on’ and drop it on the floor.  I expect there’s other reasons for muting us all, but that could be explained in the title….  There’s the odd excuse about the floor being squeaky today, yeah right..

Jackie also shares the pain, “my left side isn’t moving so well today” (well that’s good because neither is mine, nor my right side either!), but it makes the whole experience inclusive.   It is serious work but it is fun, and very rewarding.  At the end of the hour session, you really know you have done some work, and strangely I always sleep like a log after a Yoga session which is an added bonus, and I wake up feeling free of the usual aches and pains, so bring it on I say!

I am writing this because I think it’s just been great, and I wanted to spread the word.  Whoever came up with this idea within the club, thank you!  It works so well for me and I haven’t missed one session this year, I really have looked forward to the weekly stretch of those parts that don’t normally get stretched, especially in lockdown.

I understand we are close to the end of the ‘season’ because we will be back to potholing (formerly known as cycling in Oxfordshire), but I for one am a convert and will be looking to continue through the summer.  What lessons do you have on offer Jackie B?

I don’t have a yoga mat, and I have been doing the sessions in normal (Covid) work-from-home clothes, but it doesn’t matter as long as you can move and stretch.   The dark clouds of Covid have had a silver lining on rare occasions, and these Yoga sessions have been a great one for me.  I can only recommend it, and I hope this will encourage others to join in on future events.  These sessions have been free of charge (thank you BSCC) and full of value.

Hint BSCC, can we plan these for next year please?