Yoga, testosterone, and taking the lane

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Update: Pedal, Stretch, Breathe is becoming a full-on book. Fund it here to get your copy!

I’m hard at work today laying out Pedal, Stretch, Breathe, Kelli Refer‘s zine about yoga and bicycling. At the beginning, Kelli has devised some suggestions for a quick three minute stretching routine you can do before you get on your bike (and, in some poses like the one above, with your bike!) to get your body and mind ready for the ride ahead. They’re all standing poses—you stretch high, twist wide, stretch your heart to the sky.

Last week I happened on a video about Harvard psychology researcher Amy Cuddy. After noticing a gender gap in participation and performance among her students, she got interested in the relationship between how well they did and their posture—how they physically sat in their chairs in class.

Her findings were fascinating. Be you male or female, when you hunch over and try to make yourself invisible, you do poorly—and your levels of cortisol, a stress hormone, go up. When you kick back, put your feet on the desk, and take up space, your cortisol goes down and your testosterone levels increase. Her recommendation: Sitting in these poses for several minutes before a job interview (not during!) can improve your chances of being hired. Or shift back to the classroom—posture affects performance. Chemically. Go figure.

Back to yoga. Nearly all of Kelli’s warm-up stretches are power poses, plain and simple. I wonder if she’s onto something more than she knew: Stretches like these aren’t just good for clearing your mind and limbering up your body for the hills ahead, they prepare you to dive into a difficult and unequal situation like your hilly, car-infested commute…and dominate it with cool confidence. Good stuff.

Pedal, Stretch, Breathe comes out in July. is out now! Pick up a copy here)

– Watch the video below for the longer story. Stick with it through to the end for an extra touching (and transportation related) twist:

– If videos aren’t your thing, check out this excellent long article or this shorter interview with Amy Cuddy