friends gave me grief, asking me why I was going to going to go
do that lame-ass yoga stuff and sleep for an hour and a half. But
as I struggled through the class with a mat so wet from sweat that
you could have used it for a back yard banana slide for a third
grade summer birthday party, I knew this was something I wanted
to do for the rest of my life. It was so complete. It was like going
to the gym, the temple, the university and the massage therapist
all at the same time.
A lot of athletes still can’t make the connection between
yoga and the sports they love to do. Once you try this stuff at
least five or six times, you will be hooked. It is the ideal complement.
For one, it is perfect maintenance for an athlete. Yoga provides
a buffer to all the pounding and banging our outdoor activities
do to our bodies. You wouldn’t leave your bike outside in
the rain all winter to rust… why would we not at least take
as much care with our bodies?
Secondly, it is a perfect cross training sport.
If you want to increase your fitness through yoga try a Power of
Ashtanga yoga class where the pace is steady and the movements are
linked together in a flow. If you already feel fit and just want
to work on flexibility or chilling out, try a more gentle style.
You can complement the outdoor activity of the day with a less vigorous
practice or do it more intensely for general fitness.
Thirdly, with its emphasis on breathing and
mind control, outdoor athletes will be able to keep their wits about
them in high stress situations. A positive attitude never hurts.
What I really love about my yoga practice is
that it allows me to channel my athletic energy in a smart way.
I used to spend a lot of time hucking myself off big cliffs on a
snowboard or banging myself up on the North Shore Gnarl on my mountain
bike. These activities have a heavy “fly now, pay later”
element. Being banged up all the time was not the best way to age.
The yoga I practice (Ashtanga/Power Yoga) has
a high gymnastic element to it. I can get my athletic fix doing
things in my yoga practice like going from dropping back from standing
position to back bend to hand stand to downward dog and working
back to standing. My point is, it is not boring and I see myself
doing it when I am eighty. Instead of destroying my body for the
sake of my sports, I am actually nurturing it and still feel athletically
If you feel like the only thing stopping you is the fact that you
are too stiff or tight, I can only say, “don’t be ridiculous.”
Think it through… if you wait another ten years, that stiffness
and tightness will only get worse. It will ultimately prohibit you
from enjoying the very sports you love to do outdoors. Besides,
saying you are too stiff to do yoga is really like saying you are
too broke to start saving money… it’s a perfect reason
for doing it.
Go to a class. Try a few. Find what works for you. As a nature lover,
you are already a type of yogi. Step one is to get the body and
mind working together, step two is to feel more connected to everything
Eoin Finn teaches yoga in Kitsilano and Tofino,
BC. He runs ‘yes’ retreats (yoga – ecology –
surf) around the world. For information about yoga or to purchase
yoga dvds, or download free mp3 yoga routines, visit his website,