Around a month ago I was talking to a coworker about yoga and how I wanted to start but didn’t want to take a class or go with other people because I would prefer to practice alone. She suggested starting by following 30 Days Of Yoga with Adriene. I had no goal in mind and no expectations for the practice beyond getting in some additional stretching after my runs (see last post about half marathon training). I’ve practiced some meditation off and on as well as some breathing exercises so I thought this would all pair together pretty well… I soon learned that yoga would challenge me in ways I was not expecting. Growing up I often heard comments like “You must be double jointed!” or “How can you do the splits?!” based on my ability to bend, twist or alter my form. However, the flexibilities of a pre-teen do not translate to your average 30 year old adult human.
The first few days of the series are an introduction into different poses, the breath, stretching and core work. Since I started off moderately fit I didn’t really struggle with anything in the beginning except not being able to stretch as far as I would have liked. After a few days things start to heat up. My biggest challenge was, and continues to be, balancing. I often head to the mat after completing a run so my legs are already pretty tired. Combine that with some tree pose in the beginning and I’d be flailing my arms trying to stay on one leg. As expected this has grown easier with time but I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to balance.
The core work is wonderful. My core stability has progressed a lot the last month and has even helped with my running form on a lot of these longer runs. My planks are longer, my shoulders are more stable, and my back hurts less. The yoga approach has helped me focus on breathing into these poses instead of just counting how many seconds I’m holding the position. This makes each exercise/pose much more rewarding in my opinion.
I haven’t had any significant flexibility gains as far as I can tell. Part of this may come from the fact that I’m a little rushed some mornings, especially after a longer run so I have less time. I probably need to slow this down a bit and do some focused stretching outside of the yoga practice as well or spend a bit more time in some of the poses.
Beyond the fitness aspects I really enjoy the mindfulness, breath and calming portions of the series. Each day takes the time to start off or end with a relaxed presence and let you just empty out. Since I practice in the morning after a workout but before going to work it really helps me find that balance and peace to start the day. Of course, some days I rush a bit to get where I need to be but this practice has really helped me curb that habit to some degree.
Yoga pairs really well with my half-marathon training and bodyweight exercise routine. I do different body weight exercises three days a week and run four to five days a week. Yoga has been every day including my one “rest day” where I don’t run or do a bodyweight workout. My current plan is to keep up this routine and dive deeper into some different poses and work to achieve some specific goals such as headstand and/or handstand. Also, if I can somehow achieve it, I may try to do the splits again in my lifetime… We will see.