Yoga for the Meditative Runner
I woke up this morning feeling a little bit lethargic, muscles are little too tight, stomach a little too queasy, and a slight bit of angst while thinking “what did I get myself in for” in regards to Media’s 5 Miler tonight. Being outside in the sunshine and walking my dog-usually my quick fix for everything-didn’t quite work because of the slight discomfort in my glutes and quads, thus critiquing myself for going to the gym the night before a race. I took a hot bath with sea salts hoping that will ease the soreness, yet that just made me a more tired. Realizing that I didn’t start my morning with sun salutations, like I usually do, I quickly rolled out my mat and prepared myself for yoga.
As soon as the DVD’s music began, and the soothing voice prompted me to close my eyes for “Alternate Nostril Breathing” everything fell into place. My calm returned, my mind was present, and my body began to move in the ways it was craving. It was a slow awakening but the perfect pace for my tired, sore muscles. Sitting cross legged, arms reaching high then stretching side to side made me feel invigorated. My heart joyously opened up wide as I reached for my heels in “Camel Pose”. My head dropped to the floor, letting go of all angst and judgments, when I bent over in “rag doll”. All the standing postures made me proud of my strong legs and solid balance. While each pose flowed into the next my confidence grew; I felt energized, yet at peace. I did not think of the challenging run I had in the future, or the gym mistake of last night, I just thought of what was occurring on the mat and it was exactly what “the doctor ordered”.
Immediately following “Savasana”, I placed my legs up against the wall and began to meditate. Feeling the blood flow from my tired feet and down my calves brought a sense of relief and revitalization. As I begin to pay attention to my breath, and listen to Deepak Chopra discuss how we are all connected to nature, I begin to visualize my run outdoors in one of my favorite towns. I imagine not only the pride I will feel as I cross the finish line, but the joy I will feel as I run through neighborhoods on the last day of Spring in beautiful 82` weather. Then I become present. I begin to breathe in and out mindfully, as I say the mantra Deepak guides through this particular mediation-Om Bhavam Nama-which translates to “I am absolute existence. I am a field of all possibilities”. Repeating this Sanskrit phrase over and over during my meditation empowers me on a subconscious level. Once Deepak rings the soft meditation bell, I “come to” and feel like a different person. Rolling my mat up, I notice I feel lighter, happier, and grateful.
It amazed me, how two things that bring such a sense of fulfillment and unity, were awesome remedies for pre-run jitters. As I walked my dog, Bella, on her third walk of the day, I thought how these two gifts really do help anxiety yet make me feel alive, empowered, and grateful. Two hours before my run, I did another 40 minute “yoga class for runners”, to give my legs another good stretch, while giving my heart and mind a sense of calm. That too was wonderful.
The minutes leading up to the race, I concentrated on my breath. I knew this was what would carry me through the next 45 minutes, especially since I did not have enough training time due to a sciatica injury. The moment the race began, and throughout the 5 mile run in “Everybody’s Hometown”, I breathed in and out, steadily. I gave myself positive affirmations while trekking up those grueling hills. As I turned that final corner on State Street, knowing I was only a few feet away from the finish line, my mantras began- “I am Strong. I am Powerful. I am Pride. I am one with Nature. I am full of Possibilities. I am Love. I am Strong. I am Powerful. I am Pride. I am one with Nature. I am full of Possibilities. I am Love…” I got closer and closer, repeating my mantras, seeing my loved ones on the streets, and minding my breath, I felt energized, despite feeling like I was about to collapse. As I took that final step to the finish line, jumped on the timer beam, and finished, I felt an immense sense of accomplishment and relief. I bent over to catch my breath, and felt enormous gratitude for my yoga practice. It was because of Yoga and Meditation I got through the day and performed the way I did. It was the unity of all my passions- running, yoga, meditation, Media, and community, that made Friday, June 20th a day this YogiRunner will forever treasure.
“Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.” ~ B.K.S. Iyengar