Barbra Brady

The Velo of the Yogi

In It's Not About the Asana on August 11, 2008 at 11:48 pm

I’m a bike geek as surely as I am a yogi. While I’ve been a “cyclist” for only four years, I bought my first bike as an adult about 16 years ago. Steady and steel, and heavy, my now old hybrid Diamondback has served me well for years. First, as my only bike, when I fancied I was actually touring (half hour rides!), and then as my commuter–basket, fenders, and all, when I brought home a Bianchi in 2004.

Bianchi Axis

Bianchi Axis



I was completely in love with the new, zippy, fancy, higher-end cross bike. I trained on it in the summer of 2004 for a fall tour in France, and have loved it daily since.

True bike geek that I am, my eyes began to rove to other two-wheeled wonders about two years ago, when my friend Jeff Fleury turned me on to old school bikes. With lugs. And made of (now lighter) steel.
You know, the kind you envision people touring around the European countryside. I started looking for one just my size on Craigslist, and happened to bump into one at a Bike Swap in Santa Rosa in late spring. Just my size! And metallic green! And lugs! And woman-specific! And a steal! I couldn’t ride it on the spot, as it had a flat, and with an odd-sized front wheel, no spare tubes to be found…


green steel lugged womens' specific bike

green steel lugged womens' specific bike

When I finally rode the new bike (the one I couldn’t stop going outside to stare at I was so in love), my heart sank. It felt way, way too small for me. I could not even balance on it. I was going to put it on Craigslist and re-sell it, but it was such a beauty, I kept it around just to look at it–like art.

I went back to riding my old Diamondback workhorse for my daily commute, and my little, lithe, Bianci for weekend rides through the vineyards. They felt fine.

My friend and Yoga Community student, Sherry Adams, encouraged me to just start riding the new green Terry bike, that it might just be a matter of adjusting to a new feel. So I did. And Sherry was right! I began to love the feel of riding on this new (to me) bike that at first felt so awkward and wrong, I had almost decided to never try it again.

Three bikes not being enough for a geek, I found another vintage-style, older, lugged steel bike at a garage sale in Missoula, Montana,

Higgins Ave Bridge from the Missoulian's webcam

Higgins Ave Bridge from the Missoulian's webcam

 last month while on vacation. It practically sang my name out from across a crowded garage sale lot. And it’s a mixte (the cool name for what most of us call a “women’s frame), and red! And it was only $7.50! It’s still in Montana at the moment, but that’s of no concern, I rode it for a week around town, and loved it. It felt like it was made for my frame.


So, I came home, and was drawn to use bike number three, the green Terry I had thought was too small, for my daily commute. After having ridden bike number four, also small, it felt much better. A better fit.

Yes, I am talking about yoga. Here goes:
I got on the Diamondback, my original bike, the one I’ve ridden for 16 years, and held on to because I loved the way it felt, and it felt like just my size…
Guess what? The Terry was not too small, the Diamondback is too big!
And surely has been all along, I just didn’t know it, because I had either not tried anything else, or when I did, I thought that it (the green Terry bike) was too small.

It was not too small, it turns out to be exactly my right size, it was just unfamiliar.
The old bike was simply a habit. A habit that never fit.

And so it goes with yoga poses, or anything for that matter.
Sometimes we keep doing the same thing, going through the same routine, or feeling like something new “doesn’t fit,” when in fact, if we just try it on for size with a new perspective, it may be better for us than anything we’ve tried before.

Sometimes what is going to be the “perfect fit” is avoided just because it is unfamiliar.
And what really doesn’t fit us at all is held on to just because it, however ill-fitting, is familiar.

So. Be willing to ride to learn a bike–or try a familiar asana on it a new way– all over again!

  1. I have always felt that bikes were too big for me! How do you know what size is right? sal

  2. The best thing to do is go to a reputable local bike shop–I’d try one that carries brands like Trek, Bianchi of course, or Specialized. They will ask you what kind of riding you want to do, and that will determine style of bike.

    It is often a matter of changing not only the height/angle on the original saddle on the bike, but often of changing it out with a different saddle and handlebars.

    Good bike people know how to look at size for you. They will let you test ride the bike around a bit. And watch to see how you sit on the bike–the length of the top tube (from handlebars to saddle). Women’s specific bikes are often great for shorter people, but a lot depends, too, on the ratio of your torso and leg length.
    Remember all the talk about why Michael Phelps is such a fish? Torso/leg ratio figures in.

    I think you might enjoy Sheldon Brown’s site, he is the ultimate and original everything-you-need-to-know-about-bikes (and how to look cool in a helmet with wings) geek.
    Have fun!

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