I really should have known better...
Sunny, blue sky. Warm air breeze. Birds tweeting a sweet tune.
Perfect running conditions, right?
It never ceases to amaze me how the brain can overpower the body - for good or bad!
My Sunday morning run was the first real jaunt since the snow flew. I had considered a run a week but when pushing a stroller (with a fidgety toddler, no doubt) through the icy sidewalks of Edmonton, I opted to substitute my run plan for an indoor home-based strength workout. And thus, this week's run was almost a new freedom I had really missed. The cherry on top was I was solo!
I went out with the mindset of a moderate pace and distance.
And, well, not a check.
Eight point eight kilometers later, I arrived home pumped up on endorphins. I stretched and did my hypopressive exercises (more on that another day) and walked away with no apparent detriment.
Wake up Monday morning, and you guessed it, my legs were stone.
A quick spin on my bike should help... Not really. I winced with every step down the stairs to my bike.
Enter whiny voice, "but my run felt soooooo good!"
Well, thank goodness I remembered seeing a Yoga for Runners on Adriene's YouTube channel. My yoga practice was set in motion for the love of my quads, hip flexors and adductors!
Yoga for Runners was the perfect sequence of focused lower body poses. What stood out for me was lizard pose (Utthan Pristhasana). I’ve enjoyed this pose on many occasions but not more than in THIS practice. I slightly winced when we started but was able to lower my hip as I walked my front leg out to the edge of the mat. As I followed the cues, I slowly lowered my forearms down to my mat and settled into the full pose.
I find it really interesting how the placement of the hands is so crucial in this pose. By having both hands on the inside of the front leg, it can lead to such an opening to the pelvis. Much more than a traditional hip flexor lunge position. It wasn’t until you watch someone else doing lizard pose that you realize the front thigh is almost parallel to the torso. Hard to believe, but true!
Needless to say, lizard pose was one of the many very helpful poses that got me back to walking without discomfort this week!
And I appreciated some of Adriene’s final intuitive words, “way to show up for yourself”.
You have no idea!
P.S. What to learn more about lizard? Watch Adriene's Foundations of Yoga video!
Sometimes you need to take a step back, to take a step forward.
This was my approach to yoga this week.
I gravitated to Do Yoga With Me’s Power Yoga for Beginners. I don’t necessarily look at myself as a beginner (it’s been over 190 weeks of blogging and over 20 years of practice!), yet I am a big believer of there is always something to learn.
Fiji McAlpine, led a smooth and focused practice. The generation of power wasn’t via moving through the poses quickly, rather it was in the act of slowing down the movements and emphasizing proper alignment.
At first sight, it looked easy. But the amount of heat that was being generated by my body was evidence of the work being done in the static positions. It was a challenging practice both physically and mentally!
Here are my learnings…
Forward Fold - "make the number seven (7) with your body"
Great cue! I’d never thought of it that way. I suppose I always thought of the letter L yet the number seven is a bit more fluid than the straight lines of the letter L.
High Lunge - "step the left foot behind the left hip. Not in a line behind the right heel. Eventually you will stand up and you don’t want to walk unnecessarily on a tight rope”
I can honestly say I have never thought of where my foot is in relation to my pelvis in the high lunge. It is possible that the balancing act of bringing the body upright was related to where my back foot and heel was positioned.
High Lunge - “check out your foundation by letting the hands float”
Whoa! If your lower body isn’t solid, lifting the hands can sure throw you off! It was a clear indication of how much the upper extremity holds you up in the position. But this doesn’t serve you when coming to an upright position.
Check! Foundation awareness is key!
Chaturanga - “make sure you don’t go down too far...half way down or less"
Clearly, I’ve been dropping too low in this position. My arms were telling me that they were not ready to keep me up! Face close to the mat, say a couple inches - alright! Face away from the mat, say a foot or so - no way! To be frank, I actually wasn’t sure if I had been doing this right. Fiji provided a great visual of how to actually do it.
Reversed Warrior - “take the energy of the upper body to the back of the mat. Take the energy of the lower body towards the front of the mat. Allowing those two pieces of the body to split energy into two directions with equal force"
Cue the fireworks!
The cueing of where to direct energy gave the reversed warrior a whole new dimension. My body lengthened in both direction and the asana felt like a completely new pose. Who would of thought I was suppose to pull the lower body and upper body in different directions.
Warrior I - “attempt to turn the right hip forward until the knee buckles or lose the engagement of the right foot or leg...the hips never really truly square because we have the foot planted"
Hallelujah. I most certainly have never been able to square my hips in Warrior I. Glad to have cues now such as the buckling of the knee or loss of engagement in the leg so as to know when to stop trying to square my hips more. From a visual perspective, it has become clear to me that of course they can’t square because of the back foot. Such insight Fiji brings to the practice.
Spinal Twist - “grabbing the left knee with the right hand, pulling the knee across the body to the ground”
By using the opposite hand to pull the knee across the body, this allows for greater range of motion. I’ve never seen this before and I will be sure to continue to use it during my practice.
This beginner power practice had lots of details on positioning that was a welcomed challenge!
The last gem that Fiji shared in this practice was “ask the body to work together”.
If you don’t ask, then how can you step forward?
I have something to admit. Something like a guilty pleasure that I LOVE!
Ready for it?
Okay - no need to be guilty about this pleasure…
I love children’s books!
I can hide my love of these books very easily as a mother of a two and four-year-old. I even take out all the books on my children’s library card. No one would ever know that it is me who does all the picks and gets a little high every time I pick up all my holds (36 this week!) at the library. I even have the strategy of picking only the new arrival books so we (me!) are the first to touch, smell and crack the spine!
The Edmonton Public Library (EPL) makes it very easy for those addicted to books to find and borrow what we want! Its app is frequently used on my phone. This past week I was scrolling through the books, for my children (wink), and came across two new children’s books about yoga. I couldn’t resist as I added them to our growing list of requests.
The two books, titled, Good Night Yoga and I Am Yoga. Beautifully illustrated and written for their audience, these two books take children (and adults) on an imaginary yoga journey wrought with animals, bugs and nature. I've written about kids yoga before so I've dabbled a bit. Yet, I'd never seen a book (I Am Yoga) encourage such mindfulness and breath work for kids. Good Night Yoga also connects a yoga practice to bedtime, which is a brilliant way to end the day, for children and adults alike!
To be honest, I hoarded the two books and the picture above what only taken when my son found the books and said, "hey mom, why aren't these with the rest of the library books?".
Whoops! Now this may be a guilty pleasure!
Regardless, I look at reading as another form of self-love and self care, just as how yoga fits into my world.
What do you love?
P.S. And this is my practice this week, aptly named "I Love".
Aspiring Yoga Teacher
I've practiced yoga since I was a pre-teen and have always found it to keep me centered. I will be a teacher one day and this is my journey to discover teaching and practice.