Yoga Helped Me Find My Inner Runner
I’ve never considered myself a runner. I remember trying to run track in 8th grade back in my junior high school in Idaho. I felt winded, fatigued and like my legs were made of steel. I’m a lithe small woman, so to feel that heavy was extremely frustrating. Fast forward 8 years later, I moved to NYC and discovered yoga. I absolutely feel in love with it. I started practicing every day and soon certified to teach.
Yoga was a mental, spiritual and physical outlet for me; but I also felt I sometimes needed to blow off steam through some sweaty cardio activity. I hated being stuck on a machine at the gym, I didn’t have many options for tennis in Manhattan, and I could only go home to ski once or twice a year. I was fascinated by all of the runners on the west side highway and in Central Park, and thought, “maybe I can give this a go again”.
So I put on my yoga tank top and shorts, laced up a pair of sneakers, and hit the pavement. I went straight to the west side highway and all of a sudden felt an energy I couldn’t believe. My breath was synced to my movement thanks to my years of yoga and my legs felt light not heavy at all. 10 minutes in to the run, I started to feel a little stitch in my side, so I adjusted my posture and took a deep full ujayii breath and sure enough it went away and I kept on running.
When I got back to my apartment, I was amazed I had just ran for 40 minutes. It hit me hard that my yoga practice had prepared me to find my inner runner. Yoga had opened me up so my hip flexors, quads and hamstrings could move through their full range of motion. Yoga taught me to utilize my breath to oxygenate my body so my lungs could handle the cardiovascular challenge. Yoga helped me find the ease amongst the effort as I ran and yoga gave me the confidence to move my body in a way that had once felt foreign to me in the past.
I’ve been teaching and practicing yoga for almost 20 years now and I can go a few days or even weeks without a run and still stay in good enough condition for running. My husband is now a running buddy of mine and we head to the west side highway as often as we can. I’ve ran the loop in Central Park many times; and I’ve found myself going for runs on vacations. Tim and I even ran to the Vatican from our hotel when we went to Rome. Now that I’m pregnant, I find I’m jogging and speed walking more; but the occasional run feels great. We moved to the Upper West Side to have more room when baby comes; and I’m sure I’ll be running in the park with my baby jogger after I give birth and get the green light from my doctor.
Yoga keeps me from injuring myself on a run and running helps me appreciate my yoga practice even more. I love to do some active yoga sun salutations as a warm up pre run and then some long held stretches for my hips, quads and hamstrings (pigeon, crescent lunge, seated forward bend) post run. Yoga and running are both meditative and restorative. Yoga and running are two things I can do anywhere, anytime with minimal equipment (running shoes and a yoga mat are all I need) and they keep me sane, happy and striving to always move further, breath deeper and explore new terrain.
CHECK OUT MY POST ON NEW BALANCE ANUE AS WELL! I’m their featured blogger this month!
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!