There is always a first time, right?
My first time running wasn’t so bad at all.
I managed to run for 3 minutes without stopping.
What are you saying?
I know . . .
But for me, those 3 minutes were such an achievement!
A typical case of low expectations discredited by the facts.
I wish I had discovered yoga when I started running, but at that time, I ignored this magic world and my passion for it. After I started practicing yoga, I realized that running was not far from meditation, a moving meditation, where the expanded awareness had played a key role in encouraging my body not to quit.
Today’s post is not about run-walk programs, best shoes, or food to eat before/after running.
There is abundant and excellent literature about it, and I strongly encourage you to search for it as well. This post sees the topic running with my eyes of yoga practitioner, and I aim to share my knowledge acquired through attempts and mistakes with other yoga practitioners and aspirant runners to improve their experience.
Even only by taking just one of the following bits of advice.
No one expects you to run 5 km at the beginning.
Exactly like on your yoga mat, avoid thinking about your performance, and avoid comparing yourself with others. Find a balance between motivation, a pinch of sane competition, and compassion. Generating motivation just from a sense of competition against others and yourself will pull you away from a higher, much more important purpose of running: getting in touch with yourself.
2. Greet the sun
Oxygenate your cells! A great way to incorporate your yoga practice into your running practice is to start with some sun salutations. At least five rounds breathing deeply and you’ll be ready to go. Besides being an excellent muscular stretching and warm-up, they will reduce breathlessness thanks to the breathing associated with the movements that improve the oxygenation of the cells.
3. Let Prana grow and flow
Prana is the vital energy within you, carried throughout your body by the breath. With the sun salutations, you already had a good start in letting Prana circulate. Now proceed gradually to your running, just walk and breathe deeply in and out, expanding the ribcage, for a few minutes. Synchronize your breath with your movements, gradually increase your speed and when you feel ready, start running.
4. Breath awareness
Once you have started running, keep your breath synchronized with your stride. Like in a Vinyasa Yoga class, each movement should be connected with an inhalation or exhalation. Find your optimal rhythm, listening to what your body demands.
5. Drishti – gaze
Keep your head up! If you practice yoga, you probably know how important your gaze is. It affects your posture and your feeling, changing completely the effect of a pose on your body, making it introverted or extroverted. Running is an expansion towards the outside, nature. So while you run, look at the horizon, the trees, the hills, the mountains or whatever you have in front of you, never look down to your feet or the asphalt. That is a terrific help to avoid fatigue.
Don’t run just with the legs; keep your upper body active. Like in a chaturanga dandasana you cannot delegate all the work to your arms, so while you run, let your shoulders and core support you.
7. Sense withdrawal
Keep your head up and keep what happens around you in the background of your awareness. If you are in a park, it might be the woman with a dog, a crying child. If you are on the street, it might be a car or the noise of the traffic. Your eyes will see all those things but keep your intellect away, let them be in the background and keep your awareness focused on your body and your breath. Like in the first stage of meditation, Pratyahara (sense withdrawal), concentrate on one point, object or thought to turn your awareness inward.
8. Positive thoughts
Deal with your thoughts.
While you run, thoughts will arise, like in every meditation. Try to slow them down and keep them positive. Avoid thinking about the last fight with your boss or the presentation for tomorrow you still have to finish or whichever other thought that bothers your energy flow and distracts you from your breath.
Enjoy your run!