Why yoga is bad for cyclists

We’re a month into the new year, and if you’re like me, the curse of winter hasn’t made it easy to ride. It’s not as bad here in Illinois as it was last year, when repeated blows from the fabled Polar Vortex shattered our souls and seized up our freehubs; my chainring arduously gnawing at the ice-glazed chain as my beard took the brunt of the wind.

Frosty #surlybikes #beards #facial #chisnow #chicago #htfu #studs

A photo posted by Nick Wright (@nwrighteous) on

Yet, despite the extra time it takes to suit up under our base layers, arm warmers, woolies and shells, we press on. I love the snow. Been at it myself on the commute, plus some gravel, singletrack and, hell, there was even a clear Saturday I was unironically a roadie. But the deep cold, day after day, can wear on you after a while. A couple days went by and I didn’t even bother suiting up for my commute, opting for the salt-sprayed bus crammed full of stoic Midwesterners.

That’s when my girlfriend suggested I try a yoga class one afternoon.

I prefer whiskey, I told her. But it’ll help stretch out your back, extends your calves and prevents strain, she countered. Yeah, yeah, I know. Yoga’s supposed to be good for cyclists. I hemmed and hawed, trying to deflect her cajolery. I was raw from indoor rock climbing that morning. Then it’ll help you recover, she said. Plus it’s free for your first time!

Alright. OK. I caved. I imagined my calves, swollen from the end of cyclocross season, inspiring awe into a room full of lithe, waif-like yogis. It’s OK, don’t be afraid, ladies. And I entertained the fantasy of BeerYoga, one of my treasured Instagram follows, nodding approvingly from her alabaster bar stool, upholstered with yoga mat, suspended from the heavens. Nice.

There was just one small issue: The Burrito Inside Me.

It was just a late lunch, I told my girlfriend. But, ugh, you’re not supposed to eat two hours before yoga. I wish I’d known that before shuffling into La Pasadita, which makes one of the best goddamn burritos in the country. Mmmmmph, so gewd. I had brought it home and voraciously ripped into that taut tortilla, revealing cilantro-speckled gobs of grilled pollo, holding unblinking eye contact with my dog all the while. Each bite I doused in tangy green hot sauce. You know. The kind made from green.

On the way to the yoga place, I told myself I’d be fine. Figured that the burrito deposit, worth two meals, was somewhere between my stomach and large intestine. We walked into the studio, I checked in, grabbed a mat and made my way into a sticky oven of a room as a gaggle of glistening, tired women made their way out. Little warmer than what I expected, but alright.

Hot yoga is the just the best, one of those women said.

Hot yoga? Oh, it’s hot yoga, said girlfriend. Like, they turn up the heat to make you yoga better?

I was sitting on a mat among some serious yoga all stars, with more trickling in. One of them planted her feet squarely on the mat and crouched into a routine of theatrical stretches like a NFL receiver during pregame. Another thoughtfully pranced around her mat three or four times like a dog before settling into a sitting position. My back was a little sore, so I leaned over to touch my toes. That’s when I felt not just the burrito shift, but several switchbacks of my intestine expand as my entire body squelched. Oh, no.

I returned upright, glancing over at my girlfriend and the bouncy instructor who just walked in, me with the expression of someone worried they left the stove on at home. Facing the reality that the next hour would be spent suppressing my burrito-bloated guts under the strain of contorting, twisting and bending my body brought on the sweats.

The instructor walked over to the thermostat and decisively cranked up the heat and dimmed the lights as we all got down on our mats. Imagine watching the whole class move gently in unison, with one harried guy on a two-second delay. That guy. Me.

Each new pose was a struggle: watching what everyone else did, keeping my butt cheeks clenched and trying to stay with the group so as to not draw attention to myself and the blooming panic on my face. At one point, we stood on one foot, bent at the knee, with arms extended in front and the other leg extended back. My torso quivered to keep the PSI contained inside. I looked down at the mat, following an intrepid bead of sweat as it made its way down my forehead and off the tip of my nose, dramatically hitting the mat like a water balloon. The burrito morphed from solid into sludge, making a left turn in my duodenum, which by now seemed to press hard against my skin from within — a demented digestive troll was in there pumping away at the unruly inner tube inside with less and less abdomen to contain it.

This went on for tens of minutes. Risk calculations began. People fart in yoga, right? They must! On my back and delirious, I looked up at the drop-tile ceiling and fantasized about Tom Cruise, Mission Impossible-style, descending with a scalpel, hovering over me and slicing open my belly to release the blimp-fart begging to escape. Pssssssssssssssssss. And then he’d tuck his scalpel away and press down on each side of the doughy incision with both hands to make sure it’s all out. Sssss, (press), ssssss, (press), sss. Could I get up to leave and fart and come back? Surely, no. Everyone would know something was up.

I contemplated just letting it out silently, or maybe waiting for a crescendo in the music to mask any audible trace. But what if it smells? Couldn’t risk it. Damn it.

Upon the last moments of the class, the instructor had us lay on our backs, tuck both legs in and ball up, rolling back and forth. I took this as a cruel act of hazing. She must know I was new. Roll to the left, the burrito oozed left; the right, it slogged right. Her final spiritual pep-talk, like a teacher explaining the homework on a Friday before the bell, would’ve been a strategic moment to relax and release as retribution for the torture. Nay, then my girlfriend would have to save face next time she came to class. Meanwhile, the movie “Tremors” transpired in my large intestine.

Bolting from the studio, I hobbled to the men’s locker room barefoot across a spongy carpet of melted boot snow, picked a random corner of the room like a dog about to puke (it never makes sense where dogs decide to barf, you know? Like, why there?) took a handful of cheek and gloriously released the valve.

Next time, I’ll try this with two burritos.

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About Wrighteous

Keeper of the DC colors in the American Midwest.

10 thoughts on “Why yoga is bad for cyclists

  1. Pingback: Why yoga is bad for cyclists | PEDAL CANTON

  2. Yes hot yoga is bad and a great way to get injured. The best thing gor cyclist is Yin yoga where you hold stretches for 5 minutes. After 30 years of riding it is the only thing that keeps me pliable.

  3. You have never lived until you rip one in yoga and you are the only guy in the room. Seriously, flexibility training is the most neglected exercise and should not be overlooked.

  4. La Pasadita Chicago ? I have been Mortal Kombat “finish him” drunk there and gotten the best food of my life.

  5. @K – Yes, you know it. Lots of good burritos in this town, but La Pasadita is superb. I love and hate that I live so close to it.