Monday, September 19, 2016

Three Things Indoor Cycling Taught Me About Yoga

Let me begin by stating that I consider myself first and foremost a yoga teacher.  Although, I have taught a wide variety of group fitness classes and whole world of subjects as a former school teacher I still come back to being a yoga instructor in my heart.  Having said that, let me just acknowledge how crazy I am about indoor cycling.

Currently, I have one of the most amazing jobs one could ever have, teaching both yoga and indoor cycling as a full time instructor at Anchorage Yoga and Cycle.   At first, this combination of instruction may seem odd, probably completely disharmonious especially if you have a very strict view of indoor cycling or yoga and what an instructor should look like for these two disciplines.  If you have some much option you may as well stop reading because you won't agree with what is written.  If you are receptive then read on.

The two in actuality greatly compliment and enrich the other.  Rather than go into the wide interchange between the two, let me share from my own experience three things cycling has taught me about yoga.

1. Yoga is more than a really groovy fitness class.  When I first started taking yoga I more or less saw yoga as a pretty cool and hip way to get into shape.  I dug the music, the vibe and the alternative lifestyle that sometimes came with it.  Honestly, I brought some of this perspective with me when I first started teaching yoga.  Over time, this has tempered as I started discovering and digging into many of the higher aspects of the practice but still there was a serious fitness component that had stuck with me.

One of the befits of teaching other practices along side yoga like indoor cycling for example is that I get to step way off the mat and look back at it from another perspective.  Then, I view things that maybe I  hadn't when so deeply involved.  Looking back to yoga from the shores of indoor cycling let me see that the world of yoga is a vast peaked landscape where the focus on the physical is just a light scratch on the surface.  Yes, the sweat, the effort and physical are a strong part of it but behind all that is a terrain of depth and dimension that offers more than physical health but a way to live and celebrate life. Teaching all sorts of wild musically driven cycle classes from my Blue Carbon Schwinn  presented the perch in which to view yoga in a new a fresh way.  Gratitude abounds.

2. Another thing that becomes clear while riding and teaching is that Yoga lives off the mat and everywhere especially in places one doesn't expect to find it.  ok, let's be honest. It's easy to do yoga in a studio or center where everybody is practicing asana and then exchanging ideas about alternative lifestyles all the while as a harmonium plays on the sound system behind. But...it's when one leaves this scenario and wanders off into other settings does it become more real.

Imagine the sound pumping light board dancing environment of an indoor cycle studio.  Instructors yelling out motivational phrase as the latest bass beats thump in the background while people scream in response and you have where I work most of may days at the cycle house.  It is a high frequency environment.  You will find all sorts of fitness types there who aren't really interested in hearing about yoga.  Sure, some go but even these are looking for a different experience when they step into Anchorage Cycle.

This is the place where yoga matters.  In a place like this, can one celebrate a  healthy body, discover mindfulness, live ethically and discover that behind is the joy of cosmic bliss?  Yes!!!  Just like a yoga studio the underlying questions of how to live and what's it all about are the same but in a radically different context.  Yoga belongs here in this ever so real environment more than anywhere else.  I get to lace classes with yoga energy, share ideas that come right out of Patanjali, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Upanishads with fellow instructors and clients (although in more world terminology) and attempt to embody yoga values in my day to day affairs. This is where yoga lives and it's everywhere.

3. Be Open! The most important message of all.  Wisdom comes in all sorts of places and in all sorts of ways.  Sometimes it comes on the mat with Sanskrit emblazoned on the wall but other times it comes from a bunch of howling, high fiving cycling instructors who are chanting Kanya West lyrics.  Still, it comes and when we are open to see everything and I mean everything as some sort a tantric yoga oracle of knowing then  we will get what we need.

Thanks Indoor Cycling for teaching just a little bit more about the yoga I love!