Ok, so I’ll admit… I may be a little presumptuous to 1. consider myself a runner, 2. say that yoga has officially ‘helped’ my running in the long-term sense, but what I can say with certainty, is that it did help my run today!
I used to run. At my best I could do about 9 miles without completely wanting to collapse and I did manage to finish a half marathon. It was an amazing sense of accomplishment, not to mention I was in probably in the best physical condition of my adult life.
And then, age hit. Or, maybe not age, but life snuck in. I wasn’t treating my body with the care that I probably should have considering the demands I was putting on it between running, yoga and a high-stress job in an insane work environment. My hip started to hurt. Then my toe started to throb regularly. Eventually, I threw in the towel, gave in to the aches and pains, and I put away my running shoes.
Lately though, I’ve had an aching desire to get out there and get sweaty. Or maybe it’s just that as much as yoga keeps my mind and parts of my body toned, my leg muscles seem to be wasting away and my the size of my thighs seems to be increasing.
So, on the weekends when I can get out on the road before the heat turns St. Pete into a sauna, I’ve been tying up my sneakers and attempting to run.
Suffice it to say, it hasn’t been easy. I struggle. A lot. And I walk. A lot.
Today, though, I tried to incorporate some lessons from the mat to get me through the run, and lo and behold, they helped.
1. Shoulders down the back, expand the heart forward. That’s been the greatest lesson I’ve taken from doing so much Anusara style yoga. The heavy concentration on sliding the shoulder blades down the back and extending the heart forward. It opens the chest and allows you to breath deeper. In life it helps to calm the mind. By applying it while running, I found it helps you take in more oxygen, breathe deeper and not get so winded.
2. Lengthen the body – top of the head toward the sky, ground the feet. Another really important lesson on the mat and on the road. Doing it in yoga helps keep you grounded. Doing it in day to day life does boosts your confidence. And doing it while running helps with posture. I find myself looking down and hunching over when I run. Normally, to get out of this habit, I end up just trying to look ahead, but I reazlied that by focusing on lengthening the body, I stand straighter and flow better.
3. You are a warrior. I recently completed a few Kathryn Budig practices on yogaglo that focused on strenght called “Summon Your Strength” and “You are a pillar of strength”. Part of the class had us holding warrior and goddess poses for an extended period of time until our legs were burning. And, if I recall correctly, Kathryn talked about persevering through the challenge, to feel what your body was doing and to push through it. She also talked about simply being present in the moment and focusing on the challenge at hand. When the run got especially challenging today, I started to think about Kathryn’s message, turned my mind inward, and went with it.
What I discovered is that I was able to put one foot in front of the other and just keep going.
In the end, I still have a long way to go with my running, but by applying these tips continuously, I can see where yoga will not only continue to impact my life positively, but it will impact my running positively too.
Practice, practice, practice… on the mat, in life, and on the road.