“Namaste” is not a word in my daily vocabulary. I don’t cart around yoga mats and wake up each morning feeling centered and at peace; I lace up my running shoes and click on my iPod to Metallica or Muse. As a finality to this year, I vowed to lock up my yoga timidness and sign up for a class–without any negativity and an open mind.
Runners sing the praises of yoga everyday. “Yoga changed my running,” I heard countless times. I hear of half marathoners who cross the finish line and head straight to the yoga studio to stretch out that lactic acid.
I was not one of them.
Why? Because a gymnast I am not. I also suffer from workout ADD, which explains my love of running–it suits my lack of flexibility and need for speed. Therefore, I felt sincere trepidation stepping into a yoga class. The students’ sinewy arm muscles screamed “yoga devotees” and their perfectly toned backsides left me even more self-conscious. How would I survive?
As I arrived, the yoga instructor laid out her mat, took off her socks and shoes, laid them carefully to the side and walked over to an iPod dock and pushed play. Soothing spa music filled the air–definitely not my loud, normal workout music.
I mirrored the other students and removed my socks and shoes and stood face forward on the mat. The teacher asked us to move into a series of poses with names like Downward Dog and Forward Bends. I’d actually completed most of these very poses in my stretching after a long run. We then shifted into plank poses, which I do almost daily to strengthen my core.
I started to feel empowered, as if I just experienced the best stretching workout of my life. I didn’t feel intimidated any longer. Most of the yoga session consisted of moves I already incorporate into my running routine. Only this time I tried harder and pushed my body a little further into each stretch–the skillful students with ballerina litheness made me desire to keep up and come as close to their level as possible. Perhaps the running competitor in me felt pressured to keep up.
In the past, I looked at yoga as a non-sweat form of burning some calories, not as exercise. Exercise means sweating! I take it back. Yoga caused my muscles to shake, which because of running, could take the pain.
Had I not been a runner, that yoga experience would’ve felt entirely different. Running helped me appear a yoga devotee.
Now maybe someday I will be.