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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Day 57: Bikram Yoga Challenge - Yoga is for Runners, thus the Bike Run YOGA! :D

After 8 days of doubles, taking one class today should have seemed like a breeze right? WRONG! EVERY class is hard. EVERY class is a struggle. And EVERY class is worth it tenfold. Today's class was hot, duh....and really sweaty! I took the 4:00 pm class and really felt strong and flexible in the poses.

We had the studio open house today so there were a lot of new students taking classes. During the day classes I helped out at the studio and lots of new students seemed to be runners and were asking how yoga was with running.

How is it? Wonderful! I just started running last year and early on I realized the muscle benefits of yoga for runners. Lots of runners I know have had issues with IT bands, knees, calves, shin splints, etc. And almost all of those people have never taken a yoga class or really stretched. I truly feel my yoga practice initially helped prevent me from getting injuries because I stretched my muscles in yoga. It continues to help me stay in shape for my races, since I don't actually train for races, and it helps prevent me from getting injuries, which frankly, I should be more prone to since I don't properly train.

After every race, I like to go to a yoga class to help stretch back out whatever gets tightened from running. I totally feel it too. I notice it the most in Hands to Feet Pose and Fixed Firm Pose.

At one point last year during my training I did have some pain in my knees, from talking to my personal trainer I knew it was not really my knees, it was because the muscles that connect to the knee were so knotted up. I used a foam roller to loosen up the muscles but even after that I could tell I was still very tight because I couldn't bring my knees together anymore in Fix Firm Pose.

Now after every race, Fixed Firm Pose feels different than other days and I can feel a tremendous stretch from my knees, through my inner thighs. Which tells me running tights these muscles and yoga stretches them....and stretched muscles for me means less pain in my legs. (Happy legs = Happy Carolyn)

Fixed Firm Pose is where you sit with your knees bent, sitting on your heels. You then separate your feet and sit your hips between your heels. Grab your heels with your hands, thumbs outside, fingers inside and drop your elbows down on the floor. Then touch your head on the floor, arch your back and bring your arms over your head, grabbing you elbows. 

Yoga isn't just good for the muscles and flexibility, it is also great for learning how to breathe. Before I started really paying attention to breathing, I would take short breaths and end up getting winded very quickly. Running to me is partly about strength in the legs but also strength in the lungs. When I run and I feel exhausted, I just start breathing like we do in yoga, long, slow breaths, inhaling as much as possible slowly. It is really amazing, I just did this when I ran the Butterfly Boogie and it really helped me set my best time ever for a 5K. It's a work in progress for sure, I don't get it right all the time, running or inside the yoga room. There are still times I get so exhausted I think I am going to pass out but those times are getting fewer and fewer.

So for all you runners out there, try some yoga. Pay attention to the breathing while you are stretching your muscles and see if some yoga breathing doesn't help you in your next run.

Namaste.

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