“Aahh ooom….. aaah oom…..” The ladies sit in a circle and relax while reciting those words. What I first learned about yoga when I was young was unfortunately very stereotypical to this setting. I thought yoga was for relaxing and thus very boring and certainly nothing that I could use in my sports or my life. Yoga just didn’t look like it did anything.
Fast forward to 2011 when I was working at The Medicines Company as an accountant. The company offered yoga classes as a benefit for the employees. One of the ladies that went said that I should go as it was a fun class and after work, (and free!) so perfect to try. I was still hesitant (I’d be the only guy and I still didn’t believe in yoga) and then the yoga teacher herself was introduced to me at the company gym one day. She convinced me to come to an individual lesson and I really liked the poses and the stretching, which she said helped my running. We got into a nice routine of a 1 on 1 class per week for about 6 months until the company cut the program.
Fast forward again to 2017 – my friend finished a 1 month intensive yoga course on an island – an Ashram. She came back full of yoga knowledge and asked me to be a test case to learn it from scratch. This form of yoga was very different from the one I had learned in 2009. That had me hold various poses and was more static. This yoga was more active and I definitely built a sweat while in the middle of a class. So many different poses that caused me discomfort but in the end made me stronger: the swan, the dolphin, cat, downward facing dog, shavasana, cobra, etc. She would show me how to do them and I would do my best to follow. Eventually I began to progress to what she was leading me to do – the headstand. There were a few exercises to get to that point but, finally I actually got it (see pic above) and I was psyched.
A key part of yoga is the breathing exercises that we do. They include hard short breathing and periods of holding my breath up to a minute. I love this time of thinking and relaxing. It is honestly my favorite part of yoga. I feel like my running breathing is also more relaxed by practicing my breathing during my yoga sessions.
I highly recommend yoga for athletes. For us runners, it helps with your breathing and focus. It also helps with strengthening the core muscles and with preventing injuries bu stretching out our short muscles. I am definitely stronger now than I was before I started, particularly in my shoulders and back. One of these yoga sessions per week I believe does more for my running than adding an extra gym core/stability workout.
Thanks to Angie Miller, now living just outside of Chicago and the owner of Blue Sky Yoga for introducing me to yoga 7 years ago while at the Medicines Company. A big thanks to my friend and local Fair Lawn, NJ yogi Elinor Cohen for having faith in me to take baby steps in getting me to more advanced positions that I never dreamed I could attain (a headstand??).
What about you? What are your favorite yoga positions and benefits that have you experienced?
Trials of Miles,