When I first went to see Coach Christine, back in 2009, she’d recommended I try yoga to not only get in some excellent stretching but also to strengthen my ankles and feet. And while I trusted that Christine was right and I would see improvements, I could never find the will to drag myself down to the yoga studio. It wasn’t meant to be. Not yet, at least.
Fast forward. On a whim this past Fall I accepted an invitation from a friend to join her at a yoga class at NeoWhistler (Neoalpine, or YYoga). It was a power class, it was going to get hot and we were going to be challenged for 90 minutes. She also had high praise for our instructor. I was intimidated but also just intrigued enough to want to expose myself to the possibility that yoga offers.
Our instructor lead us through a challenging class, full of playful asanas (poses) and the underlying theme was standing on the threshold of something new, of moving past or overcoming obstacles that may have been in our way. We learned the story of Ganesha (or Ganesh), and his dharma of being Remover of Obstacles; he is the patron of letters and learning. It is said that meditating on Ganesh assures success. I left that class set on my decision to begin a regular yoga practice.
I signed up for a 14-day all you can embrace yoga challenge (the studio offers this at a wonderful price, open to new members only), and then registered for a three month pass. My yoga class of choice, though I try to extend myself past my comfort zones and take other classes as well, is hot yoga. There is something about being in a juicy hot room with other yogis, facing yourself in the mirror, listening to each other breathe and find new places within our bodies and minds – the exchange of energy in the room is remarkable. One hot class and I was hooked.
From my personal blog: “I’m trying to listen more to myself. Right now running doesn’t speak to me as loudly as continuing to find the balance that has been missing. I know that the love of running is in there still, just waiting for me to return. I’m still finding my comfort in that knowledge – some days I definitely fear that I’m losing all I gained in the last year. Right now I think I need to go deeper within me than running allows. Running and yoga certainly go together. Of that I have no doubt. They have a way of balancing each other out; this is so very apparent in the mind where running says,”Push. You are right there, push yourself to a new level” and yoga says,”Wait. Have patience. Maybe pushing isn’t where the answer lies.” I’m thrilled that I’m giving myself this gift of finding the yoga’s yin to running’s yang. I’m even more excited to see what happens when I can marry them.”
Did I build ankle strength? Heck yes. And as for stronger feet, it’s amazing how finding the four corners of your foot brings an awareness of how your foot lands when you run; of how you stand when you stretch after a workout; of how off balance I really once was. I can now do standing calf raises without wobbling, and that is saying so much about how far I’ve come. I got away with running with imbalances for a long time. I still have them, but I have a greater awareness of those small parts of my body that really do have an affect on the whole when something is “off”.
I have returned to running my regular three days each week. I returned with an eagerness to be a runner again. I returned with a happiness in my heart that I know was pretty quiet for a long time. I returned with a greater grasp of myself. I returned with a curiosity that gives me butterflies – what else can I do?
Challenge yourself! Take a yoga class, sign up for a session of TRX strength training, register for a race that you “never” could do. There is so much possibility out there, we just have to accept the challenge and extend the invitation for it to enter our lives.