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Yoga for Runners

Namaste, meaning “the divine in me bows to the divine in you”. The first thing that we must understand and remember about ourselves is the power we derive to work, walk, talk, think and run our marathons is due to the unknown source of all energy available to us which is unlimited but also mostly missed as we focus only on our limited capacities like walking, talking, thinking, running etc. For all these activities limited by our human condition like having a body and mind and breath to perform to its fullest, we humans, the most intelligent species on the planet are the only ones who can consciously access this unlimited power within ourself through dedication and practice. Yoga is an effective body and breath coordination practice our ancients left us with for this purpose. It is not to say that tomorrow we will grow wings and fly. But we can move better, faster, more gracefully, become wiser, kinder and make the world a better place. Yoga is a tool to achieve this efficiency and performance for this vehicle of the body we ride around through life in without wearing a seatbelt. Yoga makes you aware of your highest potential, live fearlessly and have a richer experience of life. Isn’t that what we look for in every marathon we run? A rich and fulfilling experience?

Having said that, while we do have the access to an unlimited source of energy, we must also be humble enough and realise the fragility of the human body and life. We must realise while we can push bodily limits and work our knees to the point of snapping, if we abuse the body, the body will abuse us. We cannot go on pretending we have control for too long. So respecting the body as much as we love to push through new barriers to run longer distances is as important. To pay attention to the body then requires you to nurture it through a practice like yoga, which focuses on strengthening, flexibility, increasing stamina, correct breathing, achieving a better posture and creating a sense of humility to leave the result of your efforts to the source that sees you though in the first place.

Marathons are like a meditation practice. You need to be completely in the moment. If you are constantly thinking of the finish line you will exhaust yourself halfway. Your focus which should be centred in your core, your awareness which should be panoramic, you breadth which should be even, your posture which should be steady, your pace which should be constant will be affected only because your mind was running ahead of you. So it is not always about the destination. The journey is where the answer is. If we get ahead of ourselves we will never reach anywhere. Practice of yoga make you get in touch with yourself and brings you to this moment to have the richest experience of anything that you engage in.

Runners who overwork their legs must do practices which stretch and open up your hips. Core strengthening is key so that it is not only your legs doing all the work but your whole being through your core. Balance is important to build endurance and focus. Heart opening to access maximum energies and forward bends to calm your natural impulse of intense activity. Mostly it is the active personality types that come into marathon running, hence the practice should include some pranayama and breathing too to introduce meditativeness . Of course there are always the exceptions to the rule.

Running may be what inspires you. As the word suggests, inspiration is only an invitation to access your inner spire. To reach your inner spire what better way than to Unite with your Highest Self, which is the true meaning of YOGA (To Unite). 

Namaste.

- Sindhu



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