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My love affair with exercise began when I was 16. As a high school cheerleader, I found that regular workouts not only improved my stamina and flexibility, but were activities I could do without feeling inadequate in any way.

As a kid, I wasn’t much for sports or physical activity. I spent most days with my nose in the books and was usually the last kid picked in games of kickball. I was always at the back of the pack when I attempted running track in 7th grade and found it hard to complete even one lap. I didn’t know it at the time, but those childhood challenges ignited an internal fire in me that gives me the will to drive hard and continuously push my physical boundaries.

By the time I graduated high school, I had a real passion for exercise altogether. I decided to pursue a degree in Exercise Physiology at the University of New Mexico. I cheered for the UNM Lobos and worked my way through college; teaching group exercise classes, personal training and traveling with the United Spirit Association (USA) coaching high school cheer and dance camps. It was during the travel times that I started seeking ways to exercise outside the gym. And so my love for running began….

I spent a few years getting use to running. I was learning how my body reacts to different climates, nutrition, pacing and everything in between. In 1995 I decided to run my first 5K. What a rush that was! I fell in love with the thrill of the crowds, the competitive aspect and most importantly, the realization that I could run faster and harder than I ever gave myself credit for. It was after this first race that I took up running as my sport. I finally found a sport where my only real competition was myself. I didn’t have to worry about what others were doing or about getting picked last. I found something I could do on my terms, in my own time and my own way.

After receiving my B.S. in Exercise Physiology I worked in the Corporate Wellness world, implementing healthy work programs for large corporations such as CitiCorp and Johnson & Johnson. Just as I had done in college, I continued to maintain a grueling schedule, teaching multiple group exercise classes a day, working full-time, working on my MBA, and running any chance I got. I was tired and started seeking ways to relax….enter Yoga.

My whole being was taking a beating so I was desperately seeking something to help calm my mind and restore my body. Yoga offered the solution. My Yoga practice was sporadic at best, but the seed was planted for full nurturing at a later time.

In 2005 I ran my first marathon in San Diego. Looking back now, I can see how regular Yoga practice at that time could have saved me a lot of pain! Nonetheless, it was an amazing experience chalk-full of lessons to be learned.

After completing my MBA, I left my career in Corporate Wellness to pursue the mighty dollar in pharmaceutical sales. I continued teaching group exercise classes, but the more time I put into running, the less time I had for anything else. After 14 years, I finally retired from teaching group fitness. I dabbled in triathlons, but my love for running always overshadowed biking and swimming.

I started racing regularly, taking a real liking to the half-marathon distance. All of my energy, time and focus went towards running and I started seeing great gains in speed and endurance. But my lack of attention to anything else resulted in a nasty knee injury after a ½ marathon in Phoenix. Visits to orthopedic surgeons and physical therapists left me with the notion that running was taking a real toll on my body. I was repeatedly encouraged to find other outlets to achieve my exercise fix. I was unwilling to accept this advice so I became passionate about finding a way to continue with the sport I love, injury-free.

So, I went back to Yoga. All these specialists kept telling me how tight my hips were, so it was worth a shot to do something to try to loosen them up. What I was doing in physical therapy sure wasn’t helping anything.

To my surprise, regular practice of Yoga not only helped me achieve the injury-free status I was seeking, but it also helped me become a stronger, faster, more centered runner! My running times improved, my injuries diminished, and my body composition even changed. But there was also a lining to the silver cloud. My busy mind learned to focus and my whole world became more peaceful. The combination of running and Yoga resulted in a transformation of mind, body and spirit.

Today, I enjoy practicing my two favorite activities regularly and sharing them with my children and friends. I now run with a sense of peace. I’m no longer trying to prove something to that little girl at the back of the pack in 7th grade, but rather embracing every challenge and every achievement with acceptance, enjoyment and enthusiasm.

I would like nothing more than to share your journey with you! It is my sincere hope that the little things I have learned along the way may be of some benefit to you as you make your way to bliss. I have finally found the place where I can be free to run and run to be free. I hope you will join me in that place.

Questions or Comments? Contact me at yogirunner@yogirunner.com.