Cycle, then strike a yoga pose

PHOTO: Cycle, then strike a yoga pose

NEW YORK - Pairing indoor cycling's intense, calorie-busting cardio workout with yoga, the mind-body practice of stretching for inner peace, may seem like a mismatch.

But fitness experts say it works.

Whether it is called Yoga Ride, Spin To Ride or Cycle Yoga, the two very different activities complement each other to improve fitness and flexibility. Classes usually follow a typical format: first spin, then stretch.

"Cycling is so cardiovascular- intense," said Ms Patsy Juarez, owner and instructor of Spinning Yogi studio in Lakewood, Colorado. "We do that for half an hour, then change gears, stretching the 'things' we tightened up."

A 60-minute class will incorporate cardio and flexibility exercises, inclusive of strengthening elements.

Said Ms Juarez: "The first (part) gets your heart rate going so you can jump into yoga quicker. It feels like a full-body workout in an hour's time."

The transition to yoga is quick and involves moving to a different room and easing into an easy yoga pose.

At American fitness chain Crunch, New York City-based instructor Taj Harris said slowing- down music in the yoga room smoothens the transition in its Yoga Ride classes.

"Because spinning is so one-directional, muscles get overused and tight," he explained, adding that yoga poses ease the muscles and improve strength.

"You're not going to get those crazy, advanced yoga moves... If you're spinning consistently, at least five times a week, I would incorporate a Yoga Ride class at least once."

Shirley Archer, author of 12 fitness books, believes indoor cycling and yoga are a natural fit, adding: "Yoga, with its emphasis on deep relaxation, restores balance after the stimulating aerobic efforts of cycling."

She said the yoga postures should specifically address muscles that were challenged in cycling.

"Muscles that are used should be stretched; muscles not used, strengthened," she said. "The instructor may guide participants to stretch specific lower-body muscles used during the cycling workout, such as hip flexors, quads, hamstrings and calves."

While die-hard yogis tend to have a more negative perception of such a combination, Ms Juarez believes that such fresh ways of workout makes time fly.

"No boredom in these classes," she said. "You are done before you know it."