I’m not a stranger to yoga. For the starting and winning point, I’m Indian and grew up with some form of yoga or the other. I used to regularly attend one class/week at the YMCA. And I have used p90x Stretch/Yoga while training. However, other than during pregnancy, I have not attended any at a yoga studio. I’ve been too intimidated! That is until a local yoga studio started a series called iAthlete – a Yoga class geared towards triathletes and runners; a perfect introduction to my first yoga class at a studio.
The room is set to about 90F temperatures, which is a warm pleasure given the cold temperatures outside! The class touches on different types of yoga – Vinyasa flow (moving from one post to another fluidly), Yin style (holding a pose for a few minutes) to name a few that I remember. And the instructor chooses the style and poses based on what we need. Most of our requests have been with lower body since all the athletes in class are preparing for winter marathons.
I have since learnt that Yin Style is recommended for athletes. We are running/cycling/swimming and are on the go-go-go during our activity – so our activity is our power. Our Yang. And holding a stretch/pose is our Yin – stabilizing, calming and stretching the muscles.
I have attended this Monday class for the past 3 weeks as a perfect complement to the weekend long runs. And I’ve learnt a few things along the way.
- Focus on breathing. Sometimes (most of the times) we have to force ourselves to do this involuntary action. It is so much easier to hold a pose and move from one to another if you are breathing.
- Use a yoga block. Or two. In my early days, I used to think using props wasn’t very satisfying. But I’ve since learnt to use the blocks so I get the full benefit of each pose, and to help balance to achieve a pose.
- Bring a towel and water. This goes without saying. Even though the yoga is not “hot yoga” where temperatures go up to 105F, the ‘normal’ 90F is pretty hot and I’ve found myself dripping sweat during Vinyasa Flow like Sun Salutations.
- Wear comfortable clothes. Another no brainer, but it might take a while to figure out the exact clothing you need. I spent a couple of classes alternating between too hot before I figured out my perfect yoga outfit. Yes, I will wear it every Monday until someone gets sick of seeing it and mentions it to me.
- Embrace your inner child. Embrace the Child’s pose. When some poses are hard to hold or even begin, I take a couple of deep breaths in the child’s pose to gather myself.
- Leave your ego at the door. Strength, flexibility and speed (pace during running, etc.) are different for each person. While the ideal balance is to have the best of all, mere mortals may have more of one than the other. So don’t be surprised and disappointed if your fitness from running doesn’t seem to translate to flexibility in yoga.
And something completely silly –
- Get a pedicure before your next class. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve gone to downward dog and stared at my toes with its chipped nail polish and wished I had something prettier to look down to! Add getting a pedicure to shaving/waxing your legs regularly, even if it is the winter.
Have you tried yoga to stretch out or as cross training? Do you prefer a yoga studio or a DVD?
Also, share your enthusiasm and love for other crosstraining methods!
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