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So I am teaching a lot of yoga for athletes these days. I think there are two common misconceptions.Athletic-Recovery-Yoga-Benefits_png

1. You are not an athlete. Folks seem to think that if they are not training for an Ironman or they are not in the race for the Olympics that they are not classified as an athlete. The American English Dictionary definition of athlete is “a person who is proficient in sports and/or other forms of physical exercise”. So, by definition you are an athlete if you engage in physical exercise on a regular basis. Everyone who is active and exercises needs yoga for athletes to stretch over used muscles and strengthen weak areas.

2. Yoga for Athletes is athletic yoga. Some folks tell me they haven’t tried my yoga for athletes class because they thought it would be too advanced or too intense for them. This is the opposite of my yoga for athletes class. Now if you try out my vinyasa class you may or may not be right, but yoga for athletes is totally different. It is intended, and I repeat, to stretch over used, tight muscles and strengthen weak and injury-vulnerable areas. The class many times a little flow or movement to heat the body. We work standing postures and core work to strengthen. Finally, we spend a great deal of time on deep stretch, meditation and relaxation. Just the compliment to an exercise heavy or training heavy lifestyle.

So, yoga, do it! Even if you are an athlete. Even if you are not flexible – especially if you are not flexible! Here is a link to great article detailing why yoga was so great for this athletes life. I will follow up with more info on yoga for athletes.

Namaste’ and happy exercising!!

Among other reasons, one of the things that has kept me busy lately and away from ” bloggin’ ” is preparing for a half marathon that I ran last weekend.  It was my second half marathon – both being on Kiawah Island, SC.  It is a great race and a great weekend away.  If you are thinking about trying one, check it out.  Beautiful scenery, good food, and it’s all FLAT!!  I had a PR of 2 hours and 9 seconds.  YAY!

One of the reason’s it was such a great time for me is due to “a little inspiration” along the way.  I guess I had a slow start back to running after the birth of second son, John.  I didn’t run during my pregnancy with him, and the way back to running was a little hard.  Friends were a major motivator:  calling to go on runs, talking through the miles, and just being there beside me when I would rather have stopped.  Once I had momentum, we (the friends I was talking about earlier) decided to do the Kiawah Island Half Marathon.  We started official training in September, and it was a fantastic journey – complete with long runs, minor injuries, ice baths and lots of laughs 🙂  The motivation of friends definitely contributed to the PR!

In addition, implementing a more balanced approach to training allowed my body to get stronger and more adapted to racing.  Along with putting in more weekly miles than I have in the past, I cross trained with weights and yoga.  Yoga is obviously a daily part of my life, but with this training cycle I really looked at where the balance needed to be placed.  When my running was low mileage, I took some power yoga and sweaty vinyasa.  When my runs got longer and training more intense, I put a nix on the power and found more deep stretch and restorative options.  More importantly, I was okay mentally with this balance.  The whole training period I did not feel fatigued; I did not feel desire to flake out and ditch a run; and, I didn’t feel guilty if I didn’t “feel the burn” while I did yoga.  I felt balanced and happy with my performance and overall health.  I was (am) happy with me.  Emotional and mental balance are just as important as the physical stuff when going into endurance races.

Finally, the day of the race there was lots of motivation – friends to start with, 3,000 other racers to move with, and tons of bystanders cheering for everyone.  If you have participated in races, you know how this energy really propels you through the race.  About mile 10, I was feeling the distance and thought, “Why don’t I just take it easy?  I don’t really need to push this hard.”.  I knew I was close to a PR pace, but I was starting to feel some tightness and my mind started talking to me.  “What do you have to prove?  Just take it easy!”  “This is a hobby for you.  You’re not racing anybody.”  “What’s a PR time anyway?  You just need to finish the race.”  “Where’s your yogi mind?  It’s the path without a goal you are after, right?.”  It was about this time that I saw a boy about 8 years old.  He had made his own sign with markers and it said, “Keep running.  It’s not suppose to be easy.”  I thought, “well, d**n-it…He’s right.  I have to push it now!”

Because he was right!  Why do we try new things?  Why do we venture into endurance sports?  Why do we keep going to yoga?  It’s not because we just want to do the same thing we did the day before.  Whether we think about it or not, it’s because we want to grow in some way.  Lose weight, get stronger, get more flexible, find peace…And, those things aren’t easy! 

In order to grow, we must not take the easy road.  There is nothing easy about finding your true self 🙂  While yoga is a path without a goal, it is also the path of moving into the place of possibilities.  It is practicing to acknowledge and find the person we were intended to be without the self-defeating thoughts.  All the thoughts in our heads are the obstacles to finding the greatness that is waiting for us!!  That is BIG!

When I think about the times that I have learned and grown the most, it has been the hardest times of my life.  As a child, I lost all of my grandparents in a span of many years.  This was hard in the immediate, but coming out on the other side was a respect and appreciation for life.  That lesson was taught to  me early and helped me in all other relationships in my life.  Being pregnant, birthing babies, and becoming a parent comes to mind!  Nothing opens up your heart and teaches you how to love more than children.  And, while the entire process is exhausting and the most challenging task ever, it has taught me more about myself than I would have ever known.  I know that I can endure a natural labor for over 18 hours, have my whole world rocked by having an emergency c-section, and come out smiling because the little person at the end is so beautiful inside and out that the world would have been a sad place without him.  I know that I can go for months (years even) without a full night of sleep because holding snotty babies and hugging away nightmares is way more important than a few hours of sleep.  And, don’t even get me started on marriage!  Understanding the full range of human emotion, learning to compromise, loving even while angry, and sharing the challenges of  life is a connection that has taught me compassion and patience (still in a work in progress!!). 

On the other side of all life’s challenges, is growth

So, as I ran through mile 10, that little boy reminded me of why I do what I do.  I do [it] to endure.  I do [it] grow.  I do [it] because I CAN.  Whatever “it” may be; I do it because it makes me a better, happier version of me.  And, if I was capable of running a half marathon in almost 2 hours flat, then what was I waiting for…just do it!  That little guy got me through to the end it and was an awesome feeling. 

December seems to be a month of retrospection on the past year for many people.  In looking back, this year has been a year of challenges.  Some of them I need to write out and think about to realize where it led to growth in my life.  Others are easy to see – like the half marathon training and the absolutely gorgeous babes in my life.  My heart fills with excitement thinking about what challenges may lie ahead in 2012! 

More to come in the new year!! 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to You and Yours!  And, remember keep moving, keep running, keep ____ [fill in the blank].  It’s not suppose to be easy!

Many people may think that since we yoga teachers sit in the front of the room spouting phrases like, “be present”, “listen to your body”, and “know your limits and go there”, that we must have the most healthy mind – body connection known to man.  The TRUTH is that we are living the same practice we are encouraging you to live.  So while it is easy for me to repeat these phrases and write about yogic philosophy, the everyday application is just as hard for me.

The past few weeks I have struggled with a pain in my lower leg.  I secretly kept worrying about the fact that it could possibly could be a stress fracture, which would completely ruin my plans of a half marathon in December.  And, even though I secretly suspected a possibility of this injury, I still continued to run.  I knew that if I did have a stress fracture that continuing to train was the worst thing for my body. I knew that should slow down, but I didn’t.  I continued to run and took solace in the fact that I was also doing other recovery methods, such as ice baths, yoga, and manual therapy on the pain site. 

But, it continued to nag me, and I knew I should take a break.  Finally, I gave in and postponed off longer runs during the week.  I took a really honest look at my body and what it was feeling like.  I realized that I was over-pronating my ankles which I knew could lead to some stretching of the inner tissue of my lower leg.  I also took inventory of when and how much it hurt at different times.  With this new self-awareness, I set out on a long run on Sunday.  I was continuously present in my running; noticing how my stride felt, where my foot falls landed, and even how my breathing related to my posture and stride.  The run turned out to be fantastic, and I am happy to say that I am pretty sure I do NOT have a stress fracture.  YAY!

What I do have is a body that needs a little rest and recovery.  I have a body that needs a strength building week.  I had been so linearly minded in my goal for December, I had ignored all the things I knew about how a strong and recovered body makes a better runner.  I have decided to take this week off from running and dig deep into some strengthening practices of yoga that will not only stabilize my legs and hips, but also aid in flexibility for what I hope will be stronger body by the weekend.

This is how is my yoga and running and really life in general collide all the time.  If I take the time to get honest with myself (sayta) and evaluate what is going in my body and life (svadyaya), I can usually find the middle ground (brahmacharya) that brings balance and contentment (santosa) to my body and mind.

This week try to see if you can’t pick something in your life that seems slightly off-balance.  Maybe it is a physical pain in the body or maybe it is imbalance in a relationship or emotion.  Apply the principles of yoga to it.  Stay present.  Ask yourself what is out of balance.  Be truthful.  Find contentment with what is real.  See if some of these things do not help you to find the balance to heal.  Then let us know how it helped you!! 

Namaste’

As I discussed yesterday, we need to be ready to change with the seasons of our life.  Sometimes to do that it takes a little “clearing out”.  Well, today I have done 2 of the things I discussed yesterday.  First, I meditated for 10 min this morning.  Honestly, I did not get out of bed to do it but I was awake, I was focused and I was quiet.  Correction – IT was quiet.  Before anyone got up or yelled “MAMA” from the crib in the other room; before a little squirmy 5-year-old crawled in my bed for a morning snuggle; I remained quiet with my own thoughts.  Really that time in the morning seems to clear the “gunk” out of my head before I get bombarded with more.  I know we all say we don’t have time to meditate.  But, when I get really honest with myself there are moments during my day like this that I have.  It may not be perfect on a zafu, with a timer and some calming ocean noises in the background; But, it is time nonetheless.  And, today it made for a very peaceful morning in my household.  Like they say, when momma’s happy, everybody is happy!

Secondly, I took my littlest one out for a jog this morning in the stroller after we dropped off his older brother.  This too is a way to really clear out left over “gunk”.  I sweat out toxins that may have been consumed through food, and I melt away toxins that have been absorbed through other negative highways…i.e. self doubt, criticism, judgements, etc.  It leaves me feeling refreshed and energized.  Today on my run I realized that I was running at a time I normally have to be at home for my youngest to nap.  This little thought led to a big “AHA” about some freedom that has recently come into my life.  Now that I am not tied to my home in the mornings, there will be more time for me to do things like run with my babe.  But, freedom comes with responsibility.  And I know myself.  If I don’t constructively use this time it will waste away on things like Facebook and web surfing.  I committed during my run that tonight or tomorrow I will sit down and write a plan for this new time.   I will only check email during certain times so that I am not constantly filling holes in the day with computer.  This really seems to waste time and clog time with my family.  I will also devote certain time to writing, blogging, and class development.  This way I do not neglect any relationship in my life.  I will make quality time with my family, while still devoting energy to my own work and creative development. 

During this season of change for me, I realize I am moving from the all-consuming baby land, to the land of the toddler mom.  Very exciting!  Hope that with this intentional thought on clearing out and starting fresh, there will be more positive developments and changes.

What “seasons of change” do you see in your life or in the world around us??  I am interested to hear!!

Yesterday my day started out just like most of yours probably if you are in the Charlotte area…RAINY!  I am training for a half marathon and the training schedule had me running 6 miles.  Needless to say, I was hesitant to get out in the rain!  But, I had said that I would run in a 5 K for a local kid in Cabarrus County called Wheels for Forest 5K.  I had planned on running the 5K and then continuing on to finish 3 more miles to complete the miles I needed to run.  The race was literally 1/2 mile from my house.  For this reason, I dragged my sluggish behind out the door.  It was drizzling..UGH!  Then the road was blocked for the race, so I had to go all the way around the block.  Then there was no parking!  I was really starting to think I was going to pack it in and head home.  But, again that nagging committment thing in the back of my head.  I actually had no one to run with though.  I was only going because a friend was sponsoring the race.  I wanted to support the cause she chose to support.  Without someone to meet, this was even harder with which to stick.  So, with the one last stitch of motivation I had, I found a parking space and ran down at the very last second to register. 

This race was small to measure against others, but to be put together by 1 teenager it was a big accomplishment – HUGE.  She had several dozen local sponsors and I think there were approximately 150 runners over the course of the morning.  Again, I didn’t know anyone so I popped my ear buds in and waited.  They had delayed the race 15 minutes for the wheel chair race to happen and because of rain.  Another inconvenience for me, but again I was there, I was doing this.

Finally, the race was going to start.  It was then my own agenda and purpose began to melt…the yoga started to happen…I got out of my head and CONNECTED to say the least.  They had a prayer by a local pastor where he thanked all involved and thanked Forest, the young man behind the whole event.  There was the light bulb!!  “This is not about you, Jessica, it is about something bigger”.  Forest is a teenager in a wheelchair.  His family was in need of a van to transport him and his wheelchair.  When I opened my eyes from the prayer, I could see Forest (he was front and center for the whole thing and he took his wheelchair up and down the greenway to cheer for everyone).  He had a huge smile on his face.  Then the girl that organized the event started the race.  As I ran, I though of the girl that organized the event.  How much she committed and gave to produce an event this big for someone she met and when needing her help she gave it.  She gave selflessly and fully – INSPIRIED – run got easier!  I thought about Forest and the struggles he has had to deal with in the course of his life.  I bet a little rain was the least of his worries and actually he was there in the rain and all smiles.  INSPIRED some more – run feeling great.  And, then I thought of his mother and father.  I actually didn’t see or meet them or know anything about them.  But, as a parent myself, I thought about what the struggles have been for them.  Providing for his special needs, mentoring him through the hard times, worrying but being full of love.  I thought about what their hearts must feel like this morning to have all these people here running for Forest – a boy who cannot run from himself, but who has inspired so many to run today by the light he shines on the world.  And, there came the tears.  But, what beautiful tears!  I let go of everything right there.  I ran to the finish line.  Grabbed a water, looked back at the crowd, and acknowledged how happy I was to have been a part of it; And, I kept on running.  It was a GREAT run by the way.

So, this is what it is all about…connections to other people.  This is YOGA – the yoking, the union, the understanding of that connection.  Some days we ask why we run or come to yoga.  We feel sore or feel a little discomfort as move towards our edges.  I say that Forest is why we do it.  We do it for him.  We do it for people who cannot do it themselves.  We do it for the people who don’t do it for themselves.  We do it for the people that would and will do it for themselves once the realize they can!  We do it because we can; because we are blessed with the ability to move our legs, fold forward, stand on our hands.  And, all the little aches, edges, and tweaky knees are just reminders that we are human.  That we are flawed, and we havelimitations; but, by doing the work and letting our abilities shine we move out of a place of a flawed being and into a place of light.  Forest knows this.  His wheelchair is a daily reminder of his limitations, but by moving past his wheelchair and shining for the inside, he inspired an entire race that will change his life (and others) forever. 

So, anyway, good Saturday 🙂  Made for a great weekend spent with my kiddos.  Gratitude to those that organized the event, those that sponsored it, and for those in my life that helped me be there.

If you would like to learn more about Forest and his journey as well as the race check out this link:  http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/09/16/2613456/girl-plans-5k-to-raise-money-for.html

Hello all…One of my favorite blogs to catch each day is The Peanut Butter Runner

She details her life and training schedule, eating habits, and yummy splurges as she seems to be a phenominal cook.  She recently asked for guest post submissions, and she allowed me to write for her audience.  So exciting.  Thought I would share it with you guys.  Check out my guest post!  Also, she had a great post recently on overtraining, figuring out if you are, and what to do in if you are.  Check her out and add her to your “list to read” each day!

Enjoy your weekend!!

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Upcoming Events

Current Class Schedule
Wilmington, NC

Tuesday
10:30 AM Vinyasa at Gold's Gym-Porter's Neck

Wednesday
8:15 AM Run to Yoga at Wilmington Athletic Club

6 PM Yoga for Athletes at Wilmington Performance Lab

Thursday
6:45 PM Vinyasa at Gold's Gym-Racine

Get details under Workshop and Class Descriptions

WEEKEND WORKSHOP -
INVERSIONS: TURN YOUR WORLD UPSIDE DOWN
MARCH 9TH
WILMINGTON PERFORMANCE LAB

MARCH 16TH - MINT HILL YOGA
VINYASA FLOW 9 AM - 11 AM
YOGA FOR ATHLETES 1 PM - 3 PM

MARCH 17TH - MINT HILL YOGA
THE ART OF ASSISTS AND ADJUSTMENTS
A TEACHER TRAINING
9 AM - 3 PM

APRIL 7TH - MAY 12TH
A 5K THE OM WAY:
YOGA AND RUNNING WORKSHOPS
SUNDAYS FROM 3:45 - 5 PM
GOLD'S GYM RACINE
WILMINGTON, NC

Jessica Hagler King

"Ideal teachers are those who use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross, then having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own." -- Nikos Kazantzakis
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Theodore Roosevelt