Trials Rider Ryan Leech on Practicing Yoga and Purpose—Cycling Imitates Life
“It’s about being purpose-driven, you know? Being still during parts of yoga practice, it helps. It forces you to wrestle with your mind. Why the hell am I here? In practice, sitting here… Okay, how does that link to other parts of my life? Okay, sport is another part of my life, so why am I doing this work? Oh, because I want to have some better results in riding. So it’s another way to get the ball rolling as why you do what you do.”
I was interviewing trials rider Ryan Leech about his longstanding devotion to yoga and teaching yoga, and during our conversation, we kept getting off track. I think part of it is that we’re fairly similar when it comes to yoga—we approach it with practicality in mind but can’t help but reap the spiritual benefits as well.
When I played back the interview, in addition to plenty of great yoga tips for cyclists, I came away with some great quotes and thoughts about purpose and mindfulness. For Leech, yoga forces him to be mindful and be aware, first of the pose, then the body, then the body/spirit connection. It’s a great reminder for any cyclist as well as yoga practitioner, and something I’ve been trying to do a lot more. Just taking time, in a yoga pose or just in meditation while riding, to check in with myself and see if I’m feeling OK, if I’m enjoying what I’m doing… Just think about what it is that I want at the moment.
“That purpose is a huge factor. You can have two athletes. Physically, their makeup is totally identical. Their genes are identical, but one is purpose-driven. They’ve got a mission. They know themselves better. They’re just that much more self-actualized than the other one. So the amount that one-hour of training on the bike that one does compared to an hour of training the other one does is a huge difference.”
I really loved this bit when we talked about the benefits of yoga for cyclists. Leech was comparing a cyclist with a yoga practice to one without, but the point translates across the board. What it comes down to is purpose. In racing, in riding, in work, in life: If you can’t define the purpose, there’s only so much that you can do. For me in racing, that means focusing on not just goal-setting, but figuring out what the goal means, exactly. In work, it means listing the truly important tasks and getting to them, and not spending eight hours a day on mindless stuff like the eternal email clutter.
What do you think of Leech’s quotes and the concept of purpose in cycling and life?