FEATURE: Allen and her passion for yogaSun 26 Nov 2017
What other activities do riders get up to aside from cycling?
Australian criterium champion Jess Allen has a passion for yoga having started in her teenage years, originally to help with flexibility.
The 24-year-old still practices yoga on a regular basis and feels the benefits both mentally and physically have helped her in many ways, complementing her cycling career.
“I had bad flexibility as a kid so my Dad recommended I go to a lady called Jullan at Yoga Perth to improve it,” Allen said. “I first started Lyengar yoga when I was 14, so it's now been 10 years and I'm still attending her classes.”
“Yoga helps me to mentally switch off and disconnect from what's going on in and around my life. The classes are one and a half hours long and during that time I am in my own mental space focusing solely on myself. Every time I finish yoga I feel like I have more positive energy, rejuvenated and in peace.
“Physically, yoga has helped me prevent and overcome injuries throughout my career. Whenever I have a crash on the bike I tend to recover fast and I believe that's from the 10 years of yoga keeping my joints, muscles and bones healthy and nourished.”
As part of her daily routine, whether it’s a training day or race day, Allen makes time for yoga. She values is as an important part of her day and with some extra time during the off-season, with less race commitments, the Perth born rider uses this time to improve her skills and will begin to teach classes.
“I do my own short yoga practice every day to get my body moving and feeling good during the season,” Allen continued. “When I am in Perth I attend as many classes as possible but usually twice a week to fit in with my training program.”
“I teach a few classes with my team mates in Europe and I want to do more of that in 2018 to practice my teaching. In December I will do a six-day Yoga Intensive course at Yoga West for Level 2 yogis for teachers and teacher trainees, so I am very excited about this.”
Of course, with yoga, like with anything it can be hard when trying things for the first time, but after 10years of regular yoga the ORICA-SCOTT rider has had many different experiences.
“My first time learning to do handstands against a wall wasn't so great, I lost my balance, fell to the side and knocked over the guy doing a handstand next to me,” Allen described. “We were both ok and thankfully my handstands have gotten a lot better since then.”
“My favourite yoga experience so far was an eight-day Yoga Retreat in the mountains of Bali in 2016 with Yoga West and a wonderful teacher, Shane Moody.
“Every morning at 7am we would do a 40-60minute Pranayama class, followed by a short tea break overlooking the mountains and sea in the distance. At 8.30am we start a two hour Asana class which is the most intense class of the day.
“We would then have time to go hiking, get massages or simply relax before a two hour restorative class at 4.30pm. I loved every minute of it and left Bali feeling amazing.”