I’m not talking about busting out some yoga moves during your run, but if that’s your jam, go for it! Personally, I’m usually too focused on wanting to finish to stop and bust out some yoga moves.
YTT isn’t just about learning yoga posture and how to string them together and cue them; it’s about how to live a yogic life. Which could fill many blog posts.
I found myself thinking about how yoga had naturally crept into my runs during a recent run, and the idea for this post was born. I do get some great ideas for blog posts on the run! Sometimes I even remember them.
I even have a Momentum bracelet with that motto. If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, no doubt at some point the teacher told you to breathe. Maybe multiple times during the class.
Breathing is good. It helps us shuttle some oxygen to our hard working muscles, hopefully allowing them to go a little further and faster. Form in running and alignment in Yoga are all about creating more space in our spine, allowing us to take deeper breaths.
When you’re tired you probably slump down. Stand up; let your back slump. Now try to take a deep breath. Not happening, right?
Now pay attention to your breath
Your Yoga teacher probably also tells you to pay attention to your breath. If it get short and choppy or shallow, you’ve gone too deep into your pose; you need to back off.
If you’re running and your breath gets short and choppy, it may definitely may mean that you are pushing the pace. If it’s an easy run, you’ve pushed too hard. If it’s a race, especially if you’re just starting, you may not want to back off (although maybe you should), but at the very least you want to bring attention to your breath and see if you can take deeper, more relaxed breaths.
The M Word
Yup, I’m talking about meditation. Many, many posts could be written about meditation, but there’s a simple way to turn your run into a more meditative experience. It started for me with my dog walks during our course work on meditation. I’ve actually had a regular meditation practice for the last few years (ironically enough that sort of flew out the window with my YTT), but I notice when I have and haven’t meditated.
We learned a very simple meditation: repeating SA on the inhale, and HUM on the exhale. In a nutshell, it reminds you that you are connected to the universe. When you breath in thinking “Sa” you are bringing in energy; when you breathe out thinking “Hum” you are letting go of your ego.
I started to do that on my dog walks. At first it seemed pretty difficult to keep that up the majority of the walk, but I must say for the most part, I noticed being calmer when I did and also enjoyed my dogwalks more.
Lately I’ve even found myself turning off t he radio in the car. I find more peace by breathing deeply. I’m not saying I’m always completely zen while driving, but it does help.
I’ve taken that on the run with me, too — seriously, who couldn’t use some more energy on the run, and probably need to release some ego (you can read my post about ego and running here)? I don’t do it the whole run, although I bet it would greatly benefit me. Several times throughout a mile I check in with my breathing, and think to myself SA on the inhale through my nose, HUM on the exhale through my mouth.
Practice body scanning
This is something I’ve done for years — it can take your mind off a seemingly-never ending run, and help you see if there’s anywhere in your body that needs some attention (adjusting your form, breathing into a tight spot, and so on).
Lately I’ve been really noticing my feet. As you run, think about how your foot is contacting the earth. Not so much whether you’re heel striking or not, but think about the top of your sole on the pinky side and the big toe side, then think about the middle of your heel.
Are you rolling more to your pinky side, or your big toe side? Can you flatten out a little so that your foot is more grounded? How are you striking front to back? Is your whole foot pointing out to one side? Wouldn’t it be great if you could fix things like over pronation just by thinking about where your feet are connecting to the earth?
You can do a slow scan of your whole body, but pay particular attention to your calves, hamstrings, knees, hips, core, and shoulders (are they coming up to your ears? Relax those shoulders to get rid of some unnecessary muscle tension, elongate your spine, and yes, take a deep breath).
Do you ever scan your body while running?
Do you think observing your breath could help your running?
Do you ever think about yoga when you’re not on the mat?