One activity that I love just as much as yoga is running.  This “love” has not always been in my life though.  As an adolescent, I was an athlete, but I did not enjoy “exercise” exactly.  I liked practices; I liked competition; I liked the social aspect of sports; and, I liked being active and healthy.  But,  to just step on a treadmill or hit the trail seemed like torture to me.  In fact, we had to do land training at the beginning of a competitive swim season in high school, and I can remember literally needing to vomit after the first run.  I hated it.

As I got older, I realized that without organized sports I would have to “exercise” to keep in shape.  I tried a variety of aerobics classes and trainers, but nothing seemed easier and faster than running.  So, my running experience started by getting out there and running as fast as I could just to burn as many calories as I could in the shortest amount of time.  The whole time telling myself how much I hated it.

As I “grew up”, my priorities changed, my perception of the world changed, and my ideas about my body and my health also changed.  I realized my mental health was as important as my physical health, and my physical health had more to do with a healthy body image than being my size 2 jeans.  Just a side note – kids probably had much to do with this since they forced the size 2 jeans out the window!

I had started yoga about 10 years ago, but it was not until the last few years that my yoga practice moved out of the competitive arena.  Yes, I said competitive.  It sounds counter-intuitive that yoga could be competitive, but, it can be for many people.  Not only do many people start out comparing themselves to other more advanced yogis, but they (me included) continuously are in comparison with what they think they “ought to be”.  It was not until I embarked on a deeper yoga practice with my teacher training that I was able to find the beautiful, non-competitive, self-expressive form of yoga I practice today.

As my yoga became less competitive, my negative thoughts towards my body and practice seemed to disappear, and in the end my total attitude towards life began to change.  I realized that I was more than enough in all circumstances.  There was no need to be anything else or do any more.  I realized that I was going to get to where I was going when I was supposed to get there, no matter how hard I pushed or tried make it happen.  I realized being “here now” was so much better than living in the past or the future.  I also took great satisfaction when I tried something new in yoga.  Yoga made it easy for me to be proud of new accomplishments, but willing to let go self-defeating statements to myself if I was not able to do every single pose in a particular class.  It was the “path without a goal” that yoga taught me.

So, it was with these realizations that I embarked into the world of running again.  With the push of a few friends wanting to do a race, I started training and to my surprise this time it was not like running my head into a wall.  I slowed down.  I listened to my body and did what I could on that particular day.  I enjoyed being outside in nature with my thoughts.  Before I knew it, I was running 6 miles at a time and by the end of that year I completed my first half marathon. 

Now, I am not saying that starting a running program is always this easy for everyone.  But, I do believe that embarking on any new exercise program, activity, or adventure takes a yogi’s mind.  Ever present; non-competitive, but ready to shine in accomplishment; willing to always give it shot, but even more willing to let go. 

Now whether I am doing yoga or running or just maneuvering life’s path, I just put one foot in front of the other a enjoy the scenery.  There is a famous quote that says, “Yoga doesn’t make life easier, but, with yoga, you get easier with life.”  And, I think that is what yoga did for my running.  Yoga made me easier with running.

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If you are interested in running and/or yoga, I am starting a Yoga and Running Group in Concord, NC on May 3rd.  It will be Tuesday evenings at 7:30 pm for 5 weeks.  Check out www.balancewellnesscenter.com for more information and to sign up.

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