Most of my students and co-workers know me as a relatively serious distance runner. It has been a passion of mine for almost fourteen years. I have made a pretty good go of it, improving stamina and pace even as I aged. Like most endurance athletes, I have experienced my fair share of stress induced injury, but after a particularly successful race last spring, I worried that I had purchased myself a permanent ticket on the injury train.
I created some bad habits over my many years of running, relying on certain muscle groups to take up slack for others and never properly training major joints and muscles for the strength I relied on to run. Fast forward thirteen years, and I found that I could no longer demo forward folds in class or sit in a chair without a constant, nagging pain in my hamstring. Something had to give.
I dedicated my free time to running and yoga for years, and though I dabbled in other forms of fitness, nothing really stuck. Facing months without running, I needed to find another cardio intensive activity and fast. I used Facebook to check the hive mind and trolled boutique fitness options in Old Town until I happened upon a barre class. I figured it would be easy until I came away from class having done (what seemed like) hundreds of lunges and squats and countless planks. As the weeks of recovery stretched on, I found myself going to barre when I wasn’t practicing and teaching yoga. It offered the break that I needed from running, allowed me to work on strength in weak areas (including my upper body), and provided a pretty kicking soundtrack for an intense workout.
Funnily enough, I noticed my first big gain from my efforts when doing handstand drills. My shoulder strength had improved, and I was able to balance more efficiently. Teaching and taking slow flow classes came with greater ease. I even added certain aspects of the modality to my own teaching style!
When my physical therapist cleared me to run again, I started slowly because I wasn’t about to give up my new found fitness love. I’m starting to run with increased frequency now that Covid has changed my day-to-day, but it’s for two reasons: I was able to take time off and explore something new, and I finally gained strength in those muscle groups that were under used. I can run pain free, which means I am more likely to run.
If you’ve been looking for permission to try something new, this is it! Do it and reap the benefits. It will help to provide balance as well as add new dimension to your yoga practice.