SoulCycle Instructor BETHANY LYONS MURRAY was a yoga instructor long before teaching indoor cycling. Over the years, Bethany's discovered that the two practices enhance and complement one another in surprising ways. Read about how Bethany uses both cycling and yoga to change her mind and body. And learn some yoga poses that help stretch the muscle groups we work the most at SOUL!
How did you discover yoga and how long have you been practicing?
I first discovered yoga while I was in college and became a full-on enthusiast after discovering a Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga-inspired studio. I have been teaching yoga for ten years now and it has completely changed the way I look at life, the way I eat, the way I communicate, my relationships and more.
How did you get into indoor cycling?
I always rode bikes growing up, but my first indoor cycling experience happened around 2002. I was initially so intimidated by the whole set-up and intensity of the people in the room! I got hooked while living in LA & started teaching out there. I was a dancer and yoga teacher first, so those diciplines certainly shaped my teaching style on the bike.
How does SoulCycle - with its focus on inspiration - complement yoga?
To me, the journey on the mat or on the bike has many similarities. You're in your own space. You feed off the energy of those around you. The union of breath and movement is paramount. The focus is inward and not only meant to fine-tune the body, but feed the soul. SoulCycle complements yoga by honing focus, breath, balance, core strength and it kicks up the cardio-factor in a major way that a lot of yogis might be missing. The combination of doing both - nothing beats it!
What areas generally need stretching after a difficult SouCycle class?
The quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hip flexors, lower back & calves.
Just as cycling might seem intimidating to yogis, I think yoga can be very intimidating to people with riding backgrounds. Have you found tht everyone can do yoga?
100% YES! Both cycling and yoga are low-impact on the joints and can be done to the practitioners ability, while still feeling and being part of a group. As the saying goes -- if you don't use it, you lose it -- and with these two diciplines there's the ability to not only stay healthy & active, but keep moving forward and discover new things about yourself.
KING PIGEON POSE SERIES FOR MY SOUL SISTERS & BROTHERS: A 4-part series used for stretching your hips and your quads!
STAGE 1: Pull in foot or ankle to stretch top of your thigh and quads. Keep weight in center, so the body does not rock over onto one hip. Use the hand and arm in front for support. Feel free to use a block, pillow or towel under the hip of the front leg to aid you in supporting the pose!
STAGE 2: For a deeper quad stretch, flip your palm over with your elbow in air and press your foot in toward your hip.
STAGE 3: To stretch your shoulder and chest and get a deeper quad stretch, try this variation. Put one arm overhead and hook your foot into the crease of the back elbow.
Stage 4: For a deep quad and hip flexor stretch, lay on your front forearm and reaching your knee behind.
Use breath as your guide when doing any stretch or yoga asana (pose). If the breath becomes labored or constricted - this is a sign you are taking things too far. Leave your ego at the door and honor your body by using a range of motion that serves your body and doesn't push it farther than needed. Hold each of these for 5 to 10 breath. If looking for a deeper stretch, hold each pose on each side for 20 long, slow, deep breaths.
More zen will be coming your way -- be on the lookout for Bethany's next blog on hip opening in the coming months.