I took up running in college for a number of reasons. My mom is an incredible runner and I had watched her finish many, many races growing up. She was (and still is) incredibly fit and is in better shape than I am. I wanted to do what she did. Boulder is also a running town. No matter where you are in this town, chances are, you’ll be passed by a runner or watch someone running down the sidewalk. I so wanted to be a part of that elite running group of people in Boulder. All of my room mates worked out and I didn’t. I had recently lost 20 pounds on Weight Watchers, but exercise still wasn’t something that was part of my routine. So, I started running. I was completely motivated by shallow reasons when I started, but I quickly realized that running was also fun for me. I liked pushing myself to go longer, faster. I didn’t have to compete with anyone except myself and I didn’t have to rely on others, like in a team sport, for a great outcome.
For years, all I did was run. Sure, I would go hiking or walking with friends, but my primary exercise was always running. Run, run, run until I started injuring myself. Even then, I still ran. I learned to run through knee and Iliotibial band pain. I damn near ran my knee to the ground before my physical therapist stated mentioning things about cross training. It had never occurred to me to do something other than run, to get better at running. I like the heart pounding, sweaty, hot mess that running left me. I wanted to work hard. Nothing seemed as intense to me as running, except for weight lifting. Even when I tried lifting weights, I still didn’t think I was pushing myself hard enough.
So, why I have I been doing all this yoga recently? It would appear that yoga is the exact opposite of running and therefore I would hate it. That was true at one point, until last summer when I hurt my IT band so badly during marathon training that I needed to take a break from running. I was forced to take it easy and since my muscles were so tight, yoga seemed like an appropriate thing to do. I have also been plauged my entire life with self imposed extreme stress and anxiety. I was hope that yoga could help me find the inner peace I craved so badly. I joined the boyfriend’s gym, purely to start taking yoga classes. It was much cheaper to take them there than at an actual studio.
I started going on a pretty regular basis to yoga and opened up my mind more to it being something I could enjoy. I discovered that it wasn’t yoga itself that was the problem, it was the environment that I didn’t like. I used to take hot yoga with my room mates in college and I always left feeling shaky, light headed and dehydrated. It sometimes took me the whole day to recover from those classes. But, my gym classes weren’t heated and I was only sweating due to my own physical exertion. I liked that much better. I found a teacher’s style who I really liked and started going to her classes. I was actually enjoying myself in yoga! But, then school started and my hand became injured, and yoga slipped to the way side.
I’ve finally returned to yoga, simply because it calms my mind and it’s challenging in ways that running isn’t. My hand’s failure to heal and work properly really has me down, but when I do yoga, I forget about being hurt. Yesterday, I took another one of Lululemon’s 9:29 yoga classes and it was absolutely one of the best classes I have taken. I was sore from my run the day before, but my commitment to yoga has been unwavering as of late. I will not skip class. I felt free and alive as I went through the sequences in class. I was also working incredibly hard; there was sweat forming on my forehead. Right in the middle of a warrior stance, my arms out at my sides, but bend at a 90 degree angle. “Let something go,” the teacher said. I exhaled and gazed up at the ceiling and suddenly there it was. I let go my anxiety about my hand, my job, my financial situation, everything that really isn’t worth worrying about and I finally understood what inner peace meant. I felt radiant; there was energy flowing all throughout my body, like electrical currents coursing through it.
This is why I will continue to do yoga. To capture that ever elusive inner peace. And maybe actually be able to do Crow pose one day.