Yoga for Motorcyclists: Yoga is an ancient science that helps you introspect within yourself. Most of us understand yoga as a set of exercises, however yoga is a much larger concept and exercises constitute only a very small part of it. These exercises are done in order to achieve inner stability, flexibility and balance.
While at first look it might seem that yoga has little to do with motorcycle riding, but a closer look can reveal absolute opposite, particularly for long-distance riders. Apart from the above-mentioned physical advantages, yoga drastically improves focus and alertness, which is an essential feature for riders. Long rides on straight and/or empty roads can numb your alertness, which can lead to accidents. However, with regular practice of yoga, that risk is reduced to minimal. This not only makes your journey safer for you and others on the road, but also reduces your need of frequent stops to shake off the numbness. In addition, the physical practice helps to keep you healthy so as to counterbalance the need to remain in the same position for long hours while riding.
It is very important to have a sound mind and body for a biker if he is about to invest ample of time in riding a motorcycle. Instead of having easy and escaping methods like taking medicine or lying on your couch for some time to ease your body, practice yoga to completely relax for a longer period of time, as well as to boost your energy, physical strength and flexibility of your body.
The type of poses and body postures practiced in yoga are called asanas. Different combination of exercises make up different types of yoga some of the most popular of which are Hatha Yoga, Ashtanga Yoga, Sivananda Yoga, etc. Invest some time to research and see which one suits you best. Don’t get disheartened by the complexity of higher level yogis and the exercises they show off. Yoga is not a competitive sport and the best thing is that anyone can do it at their own pace and level. The improvement will come with time unnoticed by you.
Below mentioned are a few ways in which asanas can help you boost your motorcycle riding.
1. Increases Stability
While riding on a bumpy roads, on a highway with full of vehicles at a high speed or in the valleys, a rider requires immense amount of strength and balance in order to safely cover the distance. Poses like tadasana (mountain pose), vrksasana (tree pose), utkatasana (fierce pose), etc, can certainly help you stabilize from within and will strengthen your body and mind to make correct and quick decisions when needed.
2. Improves Flexibility
Yoga isn’t just about bending your body into different shapes. It is more about the flexibility of your mind. Of course, the stretches that are practiced in yoga are helpful to make your body less prone to injuries but they are done in order to bring inner flexibility, i.e., if one option is not working out, rather being stringent about it, be flexible to go with another option which is not tried out yet. It is essential for riders to mould according to the changes in circumstances.
3. Improves Core Strength
Riding your bike for long hours requires strength in your arm muscles, leg muscles and most importantly the core muscles. To bring firmness in your muscles, you should try practicing asanas such as virabhadhrasana 3 (warrior pose 3), utkatasana (chair pose), chaturanga dandasana (four limbed staff pose), etc.
4. Relax body and mind
It is extremely vital to have a relaxed mind and body not only for the ride, but in all situations of life. Asanas that you can do before starting your trip are naukasana (boat pose) i.e. to lie down on your back with your legs together, paschimottanasana (seated forward bend), ardha matsyendrasan/ vakrasana (half spinal pose), dandasana (plank pose), kapalabhati (skull cleansing kriya), bhujangasana (cobra pose). These six asanas will charge up your body and make you feel fresh and energetic to begin your trip. After the whole long hours of riding your bike, viparita karani (legs up the wall pose), i.e., to lie down your back and put your legs up in the air or take support of a wall. After a few minutes of being in this position bring your legs down and do shavasana (corpse pose) to release all the stress and tension of the muscles.
5. High concentration level
A biker has to be mentally alert and concentrated to react adequately to all unexpected events that might occur during the trip. The unique breathing techniques taught in yoga helps a lot to calm your mind and align your soul. Poses like garudasana (eagle pose), extended hand-to-big toe pose (utthita hasta padangusthasana), side plank (vasisthasana), crow pose (bakasana), etc help you avoid distracting thoughts and ease body ache as well.
By Chirag Saluja