A little over a year ago, I added yoga to my running maintenance routine. I was desperate to do anything and everything I could to get myself healthy and keep myself healthy so I could stay out on the roads. I quickly found that I LOVED yoga and it has been a consistent part of my cross-training routine ever since!
I still remember the first time I did yoga. I have said so many times that everything in our bodies are connected, and that idea hit home even harder that day. I was stiff EVERYWHERE, and I knew those restrictions in my tissues weren’t a result of not doing yoga – they were all a direct result of my ITB injury. I remember specifically one sequence that started in Warrior 2 which worked into big arm circles before ending up in a half bind. I noticed that my entire left back side was tight and restricted when doing the arm circles (is it any surprise that my left ITB was the worst?). That pose and lizard lunge were the two poses that really opened my eyes that day.
Keep Moving Forward (In the wee hours)
As difficult as yoga was that first time, I was determined to stick with it, work through my issues and get myself healthy (and stay healthy) again. It was then that I decided to find a way to work yoga and strength into my schedule, consistently. Getting in all the strength and cross training had been easy when I was out of running because of the injury. Getting everything done when I added running back into the schedule was….challenging. My solution was to get up earlier than usual in order to do my stability/strength and yoga before work with my runs after work. I tried getting up at 5:00 am, at first, but quickly realized that it took me a few minutes to gain coherency <read: drink coffee/get caffeine infusion>. I then started getting up at 4:45 in order to start the caffeination process and hopefully be ready to work by 5 AM.
At first, this transition was tough. As time went on, however, getting up earlier got easier and I was able to settle into a routine. My eyes even began popping open before my alarm went off!
Yoga really helps (along with NOT over-training)
Ok….probably the best thing I’ve done is to hire a coach who keeps me healthy by not letting me over-train, BUT…. yoga has really helped, too. Doing yoga regularly has helped me dial into my body and it has helped me find those tight spots that I haven’t yet found with the foam roller. And yoga is soooooo relaxing. I love that loosey-goosey feeling when I am done. Ahhhhhh.
One thing that I noticed just this week, which spurred the idea to write this post, is that I relax my shoulders much more now (while running) than I ever did before yoga. I’ve learned through yoga that you don’t want to acquire tension in one part of your body while relieving it in another. For me, the tension almost always accumulates in my shoulders – in yoga and in running. Yoga has helped me become more aware of that accumulating shoulder tension (and tensions elsewhere) and my brain/body is now connecting that during my workouts. I feel that this might be the best benefit to date. I had been aware of my shoulders tensing up during runs and I always tried to keep that from happening. Since yoga, it is becoming more automatic and less of a conscious action. And that, folks, is a biggie for me!!
One of my favorite poses is rag doll. You can do it anywhere, anytime, to relieve tension and stress and just breathe for a few minutes.
I love ANY and EVERY kind of twist. Oh, the twists feel so good!!
One pose that I don’t quite *love*, but don’t feel I could live without is the Lizard Lunge. It is a hip opener and usually a tad bit uncomfortable because this girl’s hips are usually a little tight!
Another one is an IT band stretch. And, well, there really isn’t any reason to elaborate on that. LOL
What is your favorite yoga pose??