Marathon Training and Yoga
We're almost three months into this yoga "makeover" now, and there have been countless little "ah-ha" moments during the practice. In private lessons and group classes alike, there are always new difficulties and challenges to face. This is clearly a never-ending learning process, so I decided early on that I'm in no hurry. Interestingly, the more I maintain this unhurried (but curious) attitude, the more wonderful and juicy the practice becomes! Yoga is teaching me to approach difficulty with a more peaceful mindset. With that perspective, I'm starting to see just how much unnecessary drama and suffering we create for ourselves in daily life! I'm realizing how much easier everything would be if we could practice that inner peace as we navigate life's challenges.
Originally, I worried that yoga would be yet another element added to my already jam-packed training schedule. Now I see yoga as a path of simplification, a shedding of unnecessary parts. It's a return home to a more natural way of being. Pure, simple, and blissful.
There are so many interesting experiences in this practice, sometimes I am not sure where to begin with my blogs. Being that I am the "athlete" in this makeover program, perhaps the readers might like to know how yoga is affecting my current marathon training.
With yoga practice four times a week plus full-time work, I am now only able to find time for my run training twice a week—one shorter interval-style workout and one longer endurance-building run. Despite such minimal training, I am experiencing some rather obvious improvements my running! My hips feel more open, my torso much more lifted and elongated. I am discovering a better sense of leaning with my body weight and using the field of gravity to work for me during the running stride.
I also find myself more able to incorporate subtle changes in technique inspired by a variety of running books I've read over the years as a curious athlete. Micro-changes which only made sense intellectually now suddenly make sense experientially. The result is an overall feeling of increased ease and fluidity. Even during my longer runs when I am extremely fatigued, it seems my running form is not falling apart the way it used to. Yoga is truly great stuff for athletes!
Another interesting piece is that my left knee has been feeling slightly tweaked during my yoga practice at times for months now. It's just a minor discomfort, but it never felt uncomfortable or painful during any of my sports training just during yoga. During a few of my private lessons, Jason taught me modifications to relieve the discomfort. Then, finally, last week when I ramped up to a 2.5-hour long run, the knee was suddenly painful during the last half hour. I was limping by the end of that run. In the past, I might have left it alone and ran a couple more times, only to seek treatment if it continued to stay painful. This time, because of my increased awareness from months of noticing the knee being slightly off in yoga, I got acupuncture and bodywork treatment immediately, followed by repeated self-treatments. The knee healed quickly and hasn’t acted up again since.
So as an athlete, I am finding that yoga practice is an extremely valuable way to check-in with the body, to experience it in a full range of positions and notice if something is out of balance. In the future if something feels slightly off, I don't need to wait until it becomes a pain or injury to actively correct the problem. Prevention is best, and with this recent experience of my knee pain, I now see yoga as an excellent tool for BOTH early diagnosis and self-care in the context of preventative medicine.