Thursday, November 19, 2015

Yoga and Running...a Yin and Yang Relationship.

I haven't been running lately.  It used to be three days a week, no excuses.  Well, maybe an occasional one because of frigid cold mornings or snowstorms, I'm not that die hard.  Montana winters aside, for the most part I have been a very dedicated runner.  Several months ago I tweaked something in my hip.  I didn't think much of it, as a runner I've had various injuries that go away after a bit of rest.  This time I tried, icing, ibuprofen, physical therapy and recently a full on running hiatus (going on week three-insert saddy face emojoi).  Nothing seems to be helping.  I am still hopeful.  Because of the running hiatus I have been doing a lot more yoga and meditation which used to just be a beautiful balance to my running.  The yin and yang of my overall health and mental sanity.  I've noticed a struggle with meditating and yoga that previously was going so longer able to focus on the present and quiet my mind.  Today I thought about grabbing my mat and heading to the yoga studio and then realized my heart wasn't in it.  Instead I grabbed my hiking shoes and headed to the nearest mountain.  As I started up the trail, my heart began to pump harder, moving heat throughout my body.  It didn't take long to realize what had been missing.  With all the yoga and meditation I had plenty of yin.  But, I needed my yang.

Hiking is not the same as running but today it was close enough.  Today I found that although so very different, I need the balance of yoga/meditation with running/hiking for so many reasons. 

Breathing.  When running or hiking I am outside.  I push myself and begin breathing hard but I don't have to focus on it.  In yoga it is all about the breath...concentrating on each inhale and exhale.  Feeling it fully go through you and releasing all the stale air.  Hiking the breath is just as important but there is no need to focus on it, your body knows what to do.  Just breath.  Taking in a deep breath means filling up with crisp fresh air and feeling it invigorate you.  Rather than the big yoga inhales and the shared air of those next to you.  This breath is still good...the collective energy of a room of yogi's.  Just different.  I want both.   

Thoughts.  In yoga and meditation the focus is on the present moment.  If thoughts come into your mind, as they always do, you are to gently push them away and bring yourself back to your mat.  I was having so many successful meditations and then in the last month I simply could not quiet my mind.  On the trail today I knew why.  When running or hiking I allow all my thoughts to go wild.  Nothing is off limits...from deep thoughts that have been weighing on my mind to silly little things like what I should wear to work the next day.  I let them go thought leading right into the next without any rhyme or reason.  By spending so much time meditating and concentrating on staying present I haven't allowed my thoughts to be free like they need to be sometimes so when it comes to quieting things down they can chill out.  It was so freeing to let my mind release on the trail, as it always does on a run.  This has been missing on my running hiatus.  Two totally different ways of finding calm and peace but like the yin and yang...they need each other.

Strength.  Found in both yoga and running.  One as you push yourself to put one foot in front of the other.  The other feeling solid as you go through your tenth chaturanga of the class...arms strong, core tight, everything working head to two.  I want to be strong, physically and mentally, for myself, for my family.  I need the strength I pull from both...I simply can't get it from one.

Peace.  Calm.  Happiness.  The things everyone is seeking.  These create a good life.  A healthy life.  Whether I'm saying namaste at the end of a class or slowing my heart down at the end of an awesome run these things fill my body and soul.  I carry them with me throughout the day and come back to them when things get hectic or I feel down.  

After my hike today I know how badly I need the combination.  I need the running to blend with the yoga...I cannot do one without the other.  I am hopeful I will have it again.  

I need to stand in mountain pose while atop a mountain.