Yoga for Runners: Why? And How? An Anne Investigation
Lively and Julia Maria Yoga are extremely excited to partner up and offer our community a low-cost, three-part yoga series entitled “Yoga for Runners: Find More Zen in Your Miles.” These workshops will be the first three Saturdays in January at Lively (109 N. Oak Park Ave., in Oak Park); each workshop starts promptly at 9 a.m. (Scroll down for complete details.) Lively owner Anne and JMY founder Julia Evans recently had an email chat to discus the intersection of yoga and running.
Anne: In preparation for this interview, I did what any serious reporter* would do and logged into Pinterest and searched for “yoga and running.” Lots and lots of pins with the “10 best poses for runners,” “6 poses every runner needs to do,” “57 hip openers.” Let’s assume that the Lively blog audience is on the same page as Anne: We just went for a 5-mile run and now you want us to do yoga??? Can you narrow it down to three poses? Thanks!
Julia: First, I totally get it! After a 5-mile run, sometimes there’s just not enough time for yoga practice. My recommendation is that when you can, utilize a full yoga practice on an “off-day” as a supplemental cross-training. You definitely get the most out of yoga when it is a full practice. But, when you just have time for three poses, then these are the three you need.
First, downward facing dog. This is a full-body posture. The back of your legs stretch from booty to heels. Your side body stretches and you can cultivate big, full breaths to expand your ribcage and intercostal muscles, and your chest and arms get an awesome lengthening after being locked into a relatively static, forward position for 5 miles.
Second, kneeling crescent lunge. This is an awesome hip-flexor and quad stretch.
Third, sleeping pigeon (have a block handy to slip under your booty if your outer hips and knees are really tight). This posture opens up your outer hip and groin and allows you to slip into a relaxed, grounded position as your hips begin to release. Plus, if you’re feeling exceptionally tight, you can always take a supine pigeon by lying on your back and finding a figure-four. It’s the same stretch but just less pressure.
A: I spent some time poking around on your awesome Facebook page (facebook.com/juliamarieyoga) and love all your very calming photos of yourself relaxing. I also have a secret weakness for inspirational sayings and you seem to post a good number of those. Is there any particular saying or phrase that rings especially true for you? Runners often run with a mantra (i.e., “trust your training”); do you do the same during yoga?
J: Yes. The words of modern guru Sri K. Pattabhi Jois inspire me. He’s said, “Practice and all is coming.” Yoga is about the process, not about the outcome. The outcome is inevitable if you do the work. That keeps me motivated even on my worst, laziest, most self-loathing days. If I do the work, no matter how short or weak my practice may that day, I’ve moved myself closer to a positive outcome.
If I may, I also have another favorite quote. It’s simple. “Bloom where you’re planted.” I repeat this as a mantra whenever I begin to blame my surroundings or circumstances for my shortcomings or failures. No seed can choose where it is stuck in the ground. But, every flower has two choices: wilt or bloom.
A: I feel like I have to be completely honest with you here: I find yoga a little boring. I like to compete. I like to sweat. CrossFit and running are some of the most fulfilling exercises I’ve ever done for those reasons. But I know that I need the yoga, so what advice do you have for someone like me?
J: My best piece of advice would be to find a style of yoga that speaks to you. I have a lot of students that are runners and they connect with vinyasa flow and power yoga practice over other styles. A runner’s need for movement is satisfied by flow, and the competitive, athletic thirst is quenched by challenging arm balances and inversion.
But, in a larger sense, yoga is a practice of discipline. We live in a very stimulating world. Many workouts are designed to entertain as much as sweat. They do plenty to work out our bodies, but our nervous system remains frazzled. Then yoga comes in and asks for a new level of focus and patience. All of the sudden, this practice that simultaneously requires constant attention, breath control, balance, strength, and flexibility is labeled “boring.” It’s a lot of work to stay engaged. Sometimes, people opt-out. Often, very athletic folks become incredibly frustrated during their first few times on a yoga mat. It’s a mental challenge to engage in a physical activity that you may not excel at right away. Faced with the discomfort of not being the “best” in the room, there are two choices: Skip the posture completely (opt-out) or try the posture and potentially face-plant in front of strangers. But that’s not the point. The point is being the best YOU in the room. So long story short, the yoga teacher in me wants to let you wrestle with finding yoga “boring.” Yoga doesn’t promise to entertain, but it does promise to bring about change. “Practice and all is coming.” 😉
A: What’s the best way to reach you? Any amazing classes or services you offer that we absolutely must know about?
J: The best way to reach me is by email, julia.m.evans@gmail, or by visiting my website, julia-marie.co. As for amazing services, I love to work with small groups. I find that working out with a buddy is much more inspiring. Therefore, I let groups of up to five split my private rate for yoga, yoga-fit fusion, or bootcamp classes.
Namaste, Julia, and we look forward to the workshops, which kick off Saturday, January 10, at Lively. An individual workshop is $8, or sign up for all 3 for only $20.
Online registration is not available, but you can sign up in person prior to the start (9 a.m.). Please show up 15 minutes in advance to register and set up your space. You are encouraged to bring your own mat or towel for your practice, but Lively will have mats available for rent for $5 per session.
*Anne is not now, nor will she ever be, a serious reporter. Or serious about anything aside from her #extremelymuscularbiceps and #extremelyimportantbusinessladymatters. Also, this interview has been lightly edited for grammar the like.
02 Jan, 2015