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Build Strength, Flexibility, and Recover with Yoga

April 6, 2011

Since registering and completing training for the Shamrock Shuffle 8k race, I knew I needed to add yoga into my weekly workout routine. When I actively dedicate at least one hour a day for 2-3 days a week, my body reaps wonderful benefits. I won’t go into the spiritual aspect of what yoga can offer, I however want to highlight the physical benefits yoga has had on my body: I am less prone to overt soreness and tight muscles. Yoga stretches me out, therefore my body is more flexible and I’m able to run faster and push harder.

The only downside to this discovery, is that I recently canceled my gym membership. In an effort to remain #frugal I waved goodbye to my gym membership and weekend hot yoga sessions and perused online resources for yoga guides.  I wanted something that would be easy to follow, yet leave a little room for me to take more (or less) time in each pose if needed. I am happy to report I have found not one, but two yoga great instructors who offer FREE podcasts for downloading.

Dave Farmar and Faith Hunter are both prominent yoga masters, yet each offer their own style of teaching. Dave Farmar teaches the challenging Baptiste Power style of Vinyasa Yoga which is heavily focused on rapid flowing between different poses.  His podcasts will leave you challenged, outside of your comfort zone, and at times shaking. Faith Hunter also teaches Vinyasa Yoga while encouraging all to experience the sensations in the body, and find joy in the movements. Faith’s podcasts range from beginners levels to completely advanced for those who have practiced yoga and are familiar with terms and poses. If you are new to yoga, I highly recommend downloading Faith’s Episode #53 dated 3.16.2011. I download one podcast each week and challenge myself to complete the entire session 2-3x during that week. There are times when I need more rest than the challenging poses offer, and that is okay. Sometimes, you simply have to know when to rest, then get right back into it when ready! I am grateful for the option I have to do yoga in the surroundings of my apartment for no cost.

[holding plank position]

I make my yoga practice my own by leaving only a small lamp light on and by placing a candle near my yoga mat. My newest candle obsession is Target Home Candle in Midnight Moon (on sale for $2.99). There are very few things more serene than practicing yoga in the dark, brightened only by a burning candle. The experience connects me to myself and I am most aware yet absent of myself, if that makes any sense. Since committing to yoga, I feel fluid and not as wound up.

Now, I am excited for my race! It is true, black girls DO run. The 8k is this upcoming Sunday, and I am ready to give it all that I have. I plan on running fast out the gate and am going to try to keep that momentum for the entire 4.97 mile course. If I need to slow down towards the end, I will, but I refuse to walk. I will be pushing for a sub 50 minute race. With my training and previous race experiences, I know I can accomplish it. Wish me luck!

[as in life, close your eyes, breather, and rest when needed]

Namaste.

♥ Chinye

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