Every now and then I get caught up in work craziness, workout madness, or just good the good ol life roller coasters… now was one of those times. Although I had been eating well and getting in a bike ride, and a WOD on a daily basis there was something missing. I hadn’t taught a yoga class in 2 weeks and my usual 3 times week yoga dwindled down to barely one. No wonder I was feeling out of whack. I finally cleared out the cobwebs after teaching a truncated yoga class at a local crossfit gym. In just 30 minutes I felt a million times better. Yoga makes my heart happy! I realized in the 400 some posts that exist on this blog I have not once talked about Yoga, how could that be?! The truth is, I have had a love hate relationship with yoga and it’s been ever evolving. Yup, I said it LOVE/HATE. I came to yoga 12 years ago after suffering a random unidentifiable knee injury, it was something like tendinitis in my knee joint and I would guess it had something to do with the running addiction I had since the ripe age of 8. I love d running, I loved putting on some shoes, stepping out the door and just going. The knee injury was so painful that it was even unbearable for my high pain tolerance. I finally gave in and stopped running. For all the runners out there I am sure you can sympathize with the pain that I felt, NOT from the knee injury but from giving up running… it was brutal. It seemed like life was over, no exaggeration, really.
Here’s my yoga story
I needed a running substitute and was guided towards a Bikram Yoga class. I paid $5 for the class, which is now close to $25, and entered a sweaty room with half naked people. I had very little experience with yoga and my runner’s body definitely was not a fan… at first. Within 90 minutes my pores were a never ending waterfall of sweat and my heart raced faster than having run 10 miles. But it was the camel that hooked me. Ustrasana “camel” pose was nothing like I had ever experienced before. There I was in this full backbend with my chest open and my heart exposed and my emotions bursting. The class ended, I grabbed my stuff and ran out of the room. The experience was indescribable but intriguing, so I did what any sane person would do, I went back for more. And there started my yoga journey. I evolved from the physically intense Bikram practice, to the fluidity of Power Yoga where breath was reintroduced into my body in a new light, the evolution continued as I studied and explored Classical Yoga in India, Ashtanga Yoga in SF, Yoga of the elements in Guatemala, Jnana Yoga, and the ultimate yoga – study of the self.
Yoga made me mentally stronger and physically aware of my body and alignment, with these simple tools I managed make minor adjustments and get back into my running shoes, averaging 3-5 miles a day. I stuck to doing intense power yoga classes that got my heart pumping and gave me a slight adrenaline rush, it was an awesome WORKOUT. The thought of doing any yoga practice titled slow flow, yin yoga or even Iyengar yoga made me yawn. Sitting in one pose for 5 minutes drove my mind up the wall and made my every little muscle in my body twitch. Little did I know that THAT was the real deal. Looking back I had two major misconceptions about yoga:
1. Yoga was my workout
2 Holding yoga poses was boring and ineffective
The story continues…I found crossfit, actually crossfit found me (it came to the gym where I was teaching YOGA) in 2008, and my first misconception was quickly thrown out the window. CROSSFIT was a workout. Integrating crossfit into my yoga regimen gave me a unique strength- physical and mental. The added physical strength in my legs was just what I needed to overcome the chronic knee inflammation and go on to complete a half marathon – 13.1 miles! However, it is no myth that the mind gives up before the body.
It was after this that I proved my second misconception to be wrong. Embracing the fact that Yoga was NOT my workout, opened the exploration to new styles of yoga, SLOW styles. And to my surprise I discovered a new found respect for these classes. The flow was slow, the pose holds were long, the alignment was emphasized and the monkey mind, well it was fully exposed! It was at this time that I started experimenting with meditation techniques. Sitting still for 10 minutes was a challenge, not physically BUT mentally. The mind tells you to stop doing things that are challenging, but overcoming the mind allows you to face and excel from the challenge. It was my mental strength developed from this new found yoga practice that eventually led me to completing my first full marathon, from 3 miles to 26.2 miles!
Since then I have moved away from running and found a new endurance sport to put my secret sauce to the test – Cycling – after riding 545 miles across California last year, I have to say my secret sauce is still spot on!
RECIPE: Combine 3 hours of Yoga per week, 3-5 hours of Crossfit per week, a daily dose of Mindfulness training, and nourishing real food eaten slowly. Put it to the test with an endurance/met con activity of your choice.
Stay tuned for some sport specific yoga poses that will help elevate your performance!
What’s your recipe for success? Post to comments…