SCOTTSBLUFF — As over 470 bicyclists rode around the valley Friday, two sisters were focused on being their best with the help of yoga.
Amy Birdman and Ann Kaseman of Lincoln are known on the tour as “The Tidball Sisters” and the “Yoga Sisters” because not only do they practice mindfulness while cycling, but also encouraged others to participate in yoga after each day. “We are here to teach yoga only to help you be a better bike rider and feel better,” said Ann.
Every afternoon at 3 p.m. they instruct informal yoga sessions where fellow Tour de Nebraska participants can come and stretch and center themselves.
“When biking, it’s one repetitive movement for hours,” said Amy. “Yoga stretches places that are tight. We have exercises for shoulders, feet, legs and sides.”
The sisters' involvement in yoga got them involved in the tour a couple years ago.
“We’d never rode bikes until they asked us to teach yoga,” Ann said. “We really wanted to know and experience what the riders were, if we were going to teach yoga.”
While the thought of doing yoga may conjure up thoughts of stretching or aerobics, the sisters said yoga is a balance between strength and flexibility.
“I love when people who would not normally do yoga try it and incorporate it into their lives,” Ann said.
The sisters said the reason for doing yoga is for someone to connect to the emotional side of herself and think about what the body needs.
As they completed Friday’s trek, Ann said their knowledge and involvement in yoga helps them be mindful on the road.
“While I’m riding my bike, if I take in a huge breath and stop thinking about pedaling or who I’m about to pass, that’s yoga,” Ann said.
She added, “It’s coming into your body and looking at where my shoulders are.”
By doing this exercise, the sisters are able to relax their shoulder blades and alleviate unnecessary pressure on their elbows or wrists, which keeps them loose.
When they share that knowledge with the other riders, that thought process is what they get people to focus on.
“We try to get people to focus on their response to what they are thinking,” said Amy. “It’s about giving yourself a chance to have a new experience instead of focusing on the other stuff.”
While on Friday’s route, Ann noticed how cyclists breathing changed going up hill. To keep her mind off of that, she and her sister complete neck circles and drop their shoulder blades to stay loose.
“Our focus isn’t on mileage,” she said. “It’s about being aware of our bodies and experiences to take care of what the body needs.”
As they started Friday’s journey, the rain limited their travel, which gave Amy an opportunity to knit.
“My mom taught me how to knit,” she said. “I like making hats, mittens and little things.”
The process of knitting is similar to cycling as it contains simple, repetitive and meditative motion.
Despite the weather, the sisters rode their bicycles 5 miles to visit the Brown Sheep Company in Mitchell.
“It was pelting rain and I was still going to the Brown Sheep Company,” Amy said. “We walked in dripping wet and they totally took care of us.”
After warming up with a cup of hot chocolate, Amy knitted a mitten for almost two hours until the rain storm passed.
As the tour took the cyclists to Bridgeport Saturday, the yoga sisters said they have enjoyed their experience in the Panhandle.
“It is a super pretty tour, but the people have been amazing,” Amy said.