Archive for July, 2012
It took me many years to appreciate Yoga. I was often confused about what the different types of Yoga classes were and even what I was supposed to be accomplishing by taking a class. Should I be stretching? Should I be meditating? If so, why are my arms burning so much in Downward Facing Dog? I never quite knew what to expect or what I was doing, until I realized that it was about so much more than the physical practice.
Up until recently, I really wasn’t sure what the difference was between a Power class and a Flow class. And these were just the simple terms I was accustomed to seeing on gym schedules. Now that I’ve stepped outside the gym and into the vast world of Yoga, I’m seeing classes with labels like; Hatha, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Iyengar and Kundalini. And then there are the various forms of “Hot Yoga” like Bikram, Baptiste, Moksha, etc.
Some of these big words can be intimidating and I promise there will be more to come about the different types of classes and what to expect from each. But for now, I’d like to touch on the backbone of it all so that hopefully you can reap the rewards no matter what type of class you are in.
Power Yoga is the type of class I prefer most. Power yoga is an Americanized version of Ashtanga Yoga popular in many gyms. This type of class typically combines flexibility and strengthening, offering continuous movement from one pose to the next. I’m a pretty high energy person, so a faster paced, strengthening type class works well with my personality and fills the need of what I’m trying to achieve. Strength, flexibility and focus are greatly important as they pertain to my running so improving these areas through a Power Yoga class has been doubly beneficial both for my Yoga practice and my running.
Practicing Yoga wasn’t an easy beginning for me though. I struggled through the physical poses for quite some time before I really grasped what was going on. And when I say I struggled, I mean it in every way you can imagine. My hips, hamstrings, shoulders and just about every other area of my body were super tight so even the slightest of stretches actually hurt. The balance poses seemed impossible because by the time we got to them I was usually shaky and way over-focused. I literally tried to “will my way” through everything I was doing. I heard the instructors telling me to focus on the breath, but to me that just meant “keep breathing while you nail this pose.”
I can’t tell you exactly when it happened, but one day it finally clicked. I actually paid attention to what the instructor was telling me to do with my breathing and things started changing. The minute I embraced the concept of letting my breath be the foundation of my practice, the poses started coming more naturally. The stretches didn’t hurt as much and low and behold, I was able to nail those poses I once thought to be impossible. I finally realized that my will was actually getting in the way of my practice!
I’ve been reading Autobiography of a Yogi – a book that has opened my mind and my heart in so many ways. One of the most influential passages I have read thus far is this; “Yoga practice….would be ineffectual without the concepts on which Yoga is based. It combines the bodily and the spiritual in an extraordinarily complete way.” The intention of Yoga is so much more than nursing an injured running knee or learning to do headstands. It goes deeper than I ever imagined. One of my favorite Yoga instructors, Seth Nichols, states it very simply, “Yoga works from the inside out on all fronts.”
Ah ha! So the practice of Yoga is more than just showing up to class and stretching, strengthening and trying to nail poses. It has a greater purpose – one that crosses over into more than just the physical. If I really breathe, really focus on clearing the mind; I get the big fat cherry on top of the “workout.”
So can this be achieved in any type of Yoga class? I would think so. As long as we stay focused on our own practice, our own stillness and realize that the breath is the backbone of the entire class– there is no reason we cannot reap the rewards, regardless of the type of class we are in.
But let’s face it…we all have different personalities and unique preferences. A Power Yoga class may work perfectly with my personality, but you may find a slower, more meditative type class works well for you. There is no right or wrong – no one size fits all.
My suggestion is this – try different classes and find the ones that suit you best. Even after you’ve found what you are looking for; keep trying other instructors and other settings. The best way to understand Yoga is to take Yoga! Don’t stuff yourself into a box of just one type or just one way. There is a HUGE world of Yoga out there with so much to learn and so much to experience. Just remember, the breath is what will take you to new heights with your practice.
So next time you find yourself struggling through a pose or a class, let go of everything and just breathe!
I woke up this morning to a beautiful overcast day in Albuquerque, NM. “What a perfect day for a run,” I thought to myself – and so I set out around 12:00 p.m. to tackle 8 miles of hills in my favorite mile high city.
About 2 miles in, it hit me what elevation I was at and how hot 90 degrees is to run in (even if clouds are blocking the sun). I was so grateful that I was prepared with plenty of water and my favorite weapon when it comes to extreme conditions; Hammer Nutrition Endurolytes. Popping one capsule every 20 minutes kept me in the proper condition to climb over 1000 ft. and still finish strong. (To purchase Endurolytes, click here: http://astore.amazon.com/yogirunner-20/detail/B001AYMJFE).
The bigger issue I faced though, was running on streets that are slightly unfamiliar to me. Often, cars and pedestrians battle for road space – so much that I wish there were a clear-cut rule about how to share that ever so coveted road space. So I was reminded of an article I wrote for a local magazine that I would like to share with you…….
Whose Lane is it Anyway?
There seems to be quite a bit of controversy about whether or not people should jog against traffic in the bike lane. If you ask any true runner in America, they will tell you that a cardinal rule of running is to utilize the bike lane and run against traffic. If you ask the non-running drivers, you will get a mixed bag with some not caring one way or another to others adamant that runners should utilize the sidewalks or walking paths that surround our beautiful communities. Since we ARE striving for oneness, let’s look at both sides of the coin regarding this hot topic.
First, let’s look at it from the perspective of someone that strongly supports runners staying out of the streets. It is understandable, that our caring neighbors are looking out for the safety of the runners and themselves. After all, roads were created for the purpose of driving….and then came the bike lane. This nicely paved path that is designated for “bicycles” does in fact have a law that supports such use. The law says; “A path of lane that is designated as a bicycle path or lane by state, or local authorities is for the exclusive use of bicycles even though other uses are permitted”. It is logical then that an individual that knows the laws of the bike lane, might have an issue with a runner using the lane. There is another piece of law that is specific to pedestrians on roadways. It states; “If sidewalks are provided, a pedestrian shall not walk along and on an adjacent roadway. If sidewalks are not provided, a pedestrian walking along and on a highway shall walk when practicable only on the LEFT side of the roadway or its shoulder FACING traffic that may approach from the opposite direction”. Now, if you ask a lawyer (which I did), they will tell you that a number of loopholes can be found in this verbiage. First of all, there is no law that I or my legal contacts are aware of, that states anything about pedestrians utilizing bike lanes. The next point that can create some uncertainty is the specific reference to walking along a highway. Clearly, we are not typically dealing with highways as runners, and in most cases; a bike lane is available for use.
So it’s safe to say, we cannot rely on the law to provide any clear direction on this matter. This brings us back then to the upset driver experiencing one of two things, a) they are irritated about having to really pay attention to those runners using their roads, or b) they are truly concerned about the safety of the runner. For those that fall into category (a), Isn’t it your responsibility to be keenly aware of all surrounding when driving? Whether it is a cyclist or a runner using the biking lane, that lane is not intended for a car, period. We live in a community that supports health and fitness so next time you see somebody using the bike lane, smile and know that they are a symbol of the healthy community in which you live. If you are scared that you may hit someone, then put down that phone and pay attention to what you are doing. It’s a pretty sure thing that the cyclist or runner will not attempt to collide with you because we all know who will loose that battle.
For those that fall into category (b), any runner would surely thank you. However, a runner has a completely different perspective about what is “safe”. One thing a non-runner may not know is that the asphalt of the road is far kinder to the knees than the cement of the sidewalk. Anyone running more than a few miles a week will concur that running on cement wreaks havoc on the joints. So what about that person running alone either early morning or after dark? I can tell you from first-hand experience, that I feel far safer on the road in clear view of others, than running along a secluded path or sidewalk adjacent to a wash. Now I know you may say to yourself, “why run at those times then?” I ask you to be reminded that for several months out of the year, there is no other time to run without suffering severe heat exhaustion. During the cooler months, many runners have children and or work schedules that leave no other time during the day. Why not use the treadmill, you ask? Of course, that is a viable option. But for those that “race” or participate in marathons, etc. – running outside is a key element to successful training. It is important to train in similar conditions to that in which one will be participating in, and since running events don’t happen on treadmills, (or typically sidewalks) runners are only mimicking what they are training for.
And so you still might be wondering, why in the world does a runner choose to run against traffic? Remember that even the law states that “a pedestrian walking shall walk when practicable only on the LEFT side of the roadway or its shoulder FACING traffic that may approach from the opposite direction”. I asked an entire team of runners for their reasons and each and every one came back with the same response, “Running against traffic is for our own safety. Drivers often do unpredictable things and we have the ability to quickly move should a driver not see us”. Greg Poulos, President of Team Anthem, says, “Unlike a bike, which is considered to be a vehicle, a runner is in a highly vulnerable position. It is just safer to see what is coming so it can be avoided”. Plain and simple, running against traffic allows the runner to be in control and get out of the way if they are in the bike lane. If a runner goes with traffic, they cannot see what is coming from behind and are left wide open for disaster.
So there you have it. Hopefully we all understand one another and can support each other in our positive endeavors to create a healthy community. If you are a driver concerned with the safety of your neighborly runners, please, pay attention to the road and remember – pedestrians have the right of way. If you are a runner utilizing the bike lanes, please, pay attention to where you are running and remember- drivers have rights too. Be sure to run as close to the curb as possible and do not do unpredictable things either. Look both ways before crossing, yield to on-coming traffic and obey the laws of the road!
The Sweet Potato Stir-Fry is my all time favorite recipe and the meal I eat the night before a race, no question about it. But after a 10-mile run in the AZ heat followed by Power Hot Yoga, this exhausted girl realized that my beloved recipe makes for a great post workout meal as well! The Sweet Potato Stir-Fry provides a healthy, balanced meal that the whole family is sure to enjoy!
Sweet Potato Stir-Fry
1 C. water
1/2 C quinoa
1 medium sweet potato
4 tsp. canola oil
12 oz. chicken breast (cut into small pieces)
1 medium onion
1 medium red bell pepper
1 garlic clove (diced)
1 tsp. cumin
1 C. frozen peas
1 jalapeno chile pepper (or NM green chile)
salt & pepper to taste
- Combine water with quinoa and boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until water is absorbed (12-15 minutes).
- Boil sweet potato in water (3-4 minutes).
- Heat 2 tsp. oil and cook chicken until starting to brown (transfer to bowl).
- Add 2 tsp. oil to pan and cook onion and jalapeno for 1 minute.
- Add bell pepper, garlic and cumin. Cook 2-3 minutes.
- Stir in peas and chicken. Cook 2 minutes.
- Add quinoa and sweet potato. Cook, stirring frequently.
- Season with salt & pepper.
I’m so excited to begin this journey with you! There is so much I want to share and also so much I want to learn from you. Being a part of the YogiRunner family means being part of a lifestyle that is kind to our minds, bodies and souls.
So Be Free to Run and Run to be Free!
Here is a recipe for my favorite treat. I have this daily for sustained energy and a great nutritional boost!
Daily Green Smoothie:
- 1 scoop vanilla MRM Veggie Protein Powder
- 10 oz water
- 1 TBSP PB2
- 1 TBSP chia seed
- 1 frozen banana
- 1 handful spinach
- 1 handful berries
- 2 ice cubes
Blend together and enjoy! Not sure where to purchase MRM Veggie Protein Powder, Chia Seed or PB2? Use link below for huge savings off the retail price and the comfort of having it delivered straight to your door!