I remember in the past yoga and running didn’t mix, they were like oil and water. Yogis didn’t want to run because they believed they would lose their flexibility and runners didn’t want to do yoga because they thought they would hurt themselves from being too flexible.
I was blessed I was already stiff; my path was going to be a long one to advance towards the more bendy poses. Stiffness gave me the patience to look at the mechanics of a yoga pose, how the heck am I going to do that? Having to go slower fed my desire to learn. But it also got me thinking, what was my practice and what did practice mean. Was it about the goal pose or how I got there? Was my practice just yoga or did it include running and strength training? Movement of any form is going to enrich your life and get you more in touch with your body on and off the mat. More and more I wanted to be a yogi, who could run, jump, and lift heavy things.
I fell in love with cross training pretty quick; it made sense for my body. It’s exciting me that most yogis I know are getting gym memberships or joining me on a run crew. I have even started a run club at one of the studios I teach at to help share my enthusiasm.
For yogis, running can bring a new dimension of strength to the legs – think of how much better your Warrior threes and Ardha Chandrasanas are going to be. The mindfulness experienced on the mat can be brought to and experienced in the great outdoors as is the opportunity to meditate while in motion.
We are told to view what we do on our yoga mats as a testing ground to what happens off the mat. Running is teaching me to look at my strengths in a whole new way. It’s pushing me to look at what happens when I want to give up after a long run or a race. It’s teaching me perseverance, courage, resiliency and how to tap into my inner power. I can take this to the mat or off the mat. I am becoming a better yogi, yoga teacher and person because of this.
One of biggest similarities is the community that all these paths create. When you join a group of people who come together for a common passion and when its physical it seals the deal. In the end we all run on our own and practice on our own but with others around us doing the same thing there is a camaraderie that forms. A strong bond that you feel even if you are on a solo run but you run by another runner, there’s that friendly nod acknowledging they are with you on this path. Even in a yoga class when you catch someone’s eye and you are both struggling to get a bind or an arm balance, your nod says, I am with you.
I am not trying to take anything away from the art of mastering something but in the end variety is the spice of life because of bodies are built to do lots of things not just one thing really well. We need to be flexible and learn how to run, jump, and breathe under pressure. That’s where balance comes from and gets us ready to face what life has to offer us.