By Team ICG® Trainer Elliott Bringman

Growing up cycling and swimming, I never knew that without a flexibility regimen, the muscles would tighten more and more and, cumulatively, end up rigid. Rigidity, in the long run, decreases range of motion, which is detrimental to optimal performance. Performance aside, tight muscles affect how you feel in your body on a daily basis. Overly tight muscles can also lead to associated issues, such as chronic pain and unmanageable stress. All of this is avoidable, however, through integrating a yoga practice into your cardio training.

After swimming competitively in high school without much (if any) stretching, I already suffered from tight muscles by the time I entered college. I was lucky in college to take a jogging fitness class with Olympic runner Jane Kirkpatrick at UC Santa Barbara. Jane emphasized stretching for all her runners, and the benefits were immediately obvious.

It wasn”™t till the end of college that I discovered yoga. Once I began adding yoga to my repertoire, my practices really began to bloom. Muscle tightness in the legs was not as severe. In swimming, my shoulders felt more fluid and the “clicking” sounds began to dissipate.

Fast-forward ten years: I find myself professionally offering this practice to casual and serious athletes in the San Francisco Bay Area. I began by teaching early morning indoor-cycling classes, followed by a yoga practice at Club One. (I”™m now a RYT-200 Yoga Instructor.) I then teamed up with San Francisco”™s first and only dedicated cycling and yoga studio — OMpower, home of ICG® Academy — to offer a class that integrates both practices in a single session. The students who have followed me on this journey all agree: Why haven”™t they been doing this all along?!

With modern life crunching the amount of time people can spend away from home or work, a class that more or less offers two practices in the time of one extended practice simply makes practical sense.

Physically, participants receive the cardio boost and strength training for the lower body through indoor cycling, while strengthening the upper body, toning the core, opening the joints, and lengthening the muscle fibers through yoga.

Mentally, students energize themselves through the intensity of the cardio practice, and then relax with yoga.

Spiritually (and yes, there is a spiritual component), trainees push their boundaries and expand with cycling, while rooting and feeling a deep earth connection with yoga.

I could go on and on about the benefits of this practice, but I encourage everyone to take the experiential route. Try it for yourselves. It”™s through our own experience that we discover whether certain practices resonate or “work” for us.

But if my experience has shown anything, it”™s that this practice is the best balanced of them all.

Elliott Bringman, MA is a San Francisco-based athlete and yogi offering smart cardiovascular training through indoor-cycling, and yoga practices designed to strengthen, open, relax, and detox. Elliott is a Master Trainer with the Indoor-Cycling Group and is the creator of a number of hybridized spin/yoga programs. His welcoming, all-levels classes boost students”™ aerobic ability for easy application to any number of high-endurance activities, while simultaeneously working the body through classical yoga-poses to build sustainable strength and flexibility. In addition to the physical, Elliott”™s deep knowledge and dedication to both eastern and western traditions make his classes some of the most authentically uplifting and empowering around.

Originally posted 2013-02-04 05:50:23.

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