I’ll admit it: I’m having an affair.
No, definitely not the extramarital kind.
If you know me, you know that running has always been there for me. Me and running, well, we’re just like peas and carrots. Pork chops and applesauce. Peanut butter and jelly. But, I have to admit, I just needed a break…and I craved a little adventure.
Enter hot yoga.
Last year around this time, I tried out bikram yoga for the first time and discovered a whole new world. Now, for runners, this seems completely out of our typical “zone.” I mean, we pound our bodies hard and we might stretch our muscles a bit, but if we’re honest with ourselves, it’s maybe a few minutes before and after a good run, if that.
With its deep-breathing techniques, muscle-isolating stretching and toning exercises and plenty of time to simply quiet the mind, I’d argue that yoga (bikram, hot or any other form) is the PERFECT companion to running.
My experience led me to Hot Yoga Ahwatukee where a good friend of mine teaches hot yoga. So what’s hot yoga like? Here’s just a quick snapshot of my experience:
5:15 a.m. I arrive at the studio, stow my flip flops and personal belongings in the locker room and wander into the 105-degree heated room. I try to position my bright pink mat under a fan. Cooler maybe?
5:30 a.m. sharp. My friend quietly enters the room and invites the 15 or so of us to stand in mountain pose at the top of our mat, encouraging us to relax and stare at ourselves in the mirror, correct anything and set our “intention” for our practice. Mine? Stick through it and stay in the moment.
Our first few minutes are devoted to simply breathing in deeply through our nose for several counts and then releasing that breath through our mouths, squeezing every bit out that we can. I’m amazed at how it impacts my breathing, which has honestly always been one of the most challenging parts of running. (As weird as that sounds.)
5:45 a.m. – 6:45 a.m.
We do flow yoga poses that I can’t even begin to get into (I am, after all, an amateur), but I notice the deep breathing through the nose, the bend, twist and stretch loosen my always-tight IT band and hamstring. Bingo–running benefit!
After 75 minutes of class, about 32 ounces of sweat and one water bottle later, class is over and I feel relaxed–my shoulders aren’t trying to stay near my ears; my steps feel even and I feel strong. Perfect way to start my day.
Honestly, if I had all the money in the world, the practice of hot yoga would ALWAYS be part of my running routine. Unfortunately, this affair is a little more costly than my wallet can bear, unless another Groupon decides to surface. 🙂
So, whether you’re a runner, an exercise fiend or sports nut of any kind, I highly recommend trying out yoga, if not to relax your mind and bring extra peace, but to release some of the tightness we tend to build up in our hips, legs and other major muscle groups.
Running, I promise I’ll get back to you in full force soon. My Groupon for my yoga affair ends later this week.