Thanking My Lucky Stars for Jivamukti’s Spiritual Warrior

Looking back on my Monday, I’m not quite sure I’d have made it to the end in one piece without Jivamukti’s Spiritual Warrior class.

I knew I was in dire need of yoga, which is why I planned on waking up early, packing my bag, and scurrying out the door by 7:30 to make it to Jivamukti’s 8:10 class. Not only is Jivamukti’s Spiritual Warrior my all-time favorite flow (it’s the same every time, and in my opinion, perfect for runners even if it’s a bit, well, spiritual), but the studio also offers a shower, which is a major plus when attending a pre-work class.

Why the emergency? Well, there are 3 reasons, to be exact.

1. Piriformis syndrome. While I may have done an all-star job at managing this recurring pain last week when it reared (literally) its ugly head, that doesn’t mean I’m in the clear. Jivamukti’s abundance of seated spinal twists, not to mention their instructors’ special attention to their pupils, makes it perfect for someone like me.

2. Mental clarity. Ah, Monday morning. Nothing says foggy-brain like the sound of your alarm chiming at 6:30am to kick off the week. After 2 pretty tough days of running (speed work on Saturday and a super-humid and sweat-filled recovery run on Sunday), yoga was just what I needed to clear the cobwebs and start my week without wanting to punch everyone who crossed my path. (Instead, I only wanted to punch every other person. Success!)

3. Looking long-term. My marathon-running cousin once told me that he believed the only reason he completed his first 26.2-mile race injury-free was because he took up yoga. With the Philly Half Marathon now in my future, I figure there’s no time like the present to reintegrate it back into my schedule.

I’ve been touting yoga’s benefits for years now — since I started practicing in college with this guy, a good friend from the University of Michigan. (For those of you who are new to WRFG, no, this is not Noah and yes, this is from ages ago.)

When Josh and I first took up yoga in college, I guess you could say I was a bit naive about the entire practice. At the time, I had really only considered that, if I was putting on a sports bra and spandex, I must be going to get a serious workout. As it turned out, I really disliked the sweat-your-face-off mentality familiar to those power yoga days of yesteryear. At times I even dreaded going, but knew I had to work off that 6-pack of beers from the night before. Over time, I simply got sick of it and stopped going.

Today, yoga is very much restorative for me. When you spend nearly every day running and placing massive amounts of weight on the muscles from your hips down, it becomes of paramount importance that you pay attention to them afterward.

On another level, while running can be an enormous mental release, it can also be mentally draining at times; yoga provides the opportunity to regroup. Dedicate your practice to becoming a stronger runner, athlete, and overall person, and you’ll be certain to leave class feeling a hell of a lot calmer and grounded. Namaste, indeed.

I felt at peace from the moment I walked into Jivamukti’s pleasant space in Union Square. It sometimes amazes me how quiet and peaceful the environment can be despite the traffic only one level below. Dim lights, quiet music, and extremely zen staff members make you feel as though you’ve escaped the hustle of Manhattan and transported yourself to some ashram in India. All that for $13? A bargain, if you ask me.

Something I love about the 8:10 class is that there is rarely more than a handful of us who make it because of the awkward timing. Most of Jivamukti’s students are either sleeping or on their way to work, which leaves those of us who either don’t have jobs or can mosey on into the office around 9:30 with ample space in which to practice.

With only 4 of us in Monday morning’s Spiritual Warrior class, I received personal attention and helpful pointers from start to finish. With each subsequent pose, held for a minimum of 5 seconds (except for side planks, which are held only for 3 seconds each), I felt my muscles releasing month’s worth of tension, stress, and unease. I felt physically calmer, mentally happier, and generally more able to face what’s bound to be a hectic (as usual) week.

If you’re not a yoga person — and I know there are many runners out there who are not — then I highly suggest this restorative style of the ancient practice. Simply put, it’s different. And if you don’t, then at least treat yourself to something to make the start of your week brighter. Like delicious homemade sweet potato chips.

Or a new pair of running sneakers.

Bam! Instant bliss.

  • Do you incorporate yoga into your running maintenance routine?
  • If you answered yes, do you prefer vigorous styles or restorative flows?

17 thoughts on “Thanking My Lucky Stars for Jivamukti’s Spiritual Warrior

  1. I did yoga (relatively) regularly for about four months, and I attribute my lack of injury and ability to run on what were pretty tender knees to yoga. I would often mix it up – there were a few teachers I loved, some who are super intense and I would leave dripping, and others who are more of the gentle variety. I appreciated both.

    Right now, my partner and I are doing the DDP yoga (the time piece you mention here? Yeah, we started running into that and couldn’t make classes very often). It’s a more intense yoga, but there are ways to make it less intense. I also enjoy :)

  2. that yoga class sounds AMAZING! I def want to check it out…though would disrupt the whole “hardly anyone at the class” thing….

    oh, and I think we’re sneaker twins ;)

    • With only 4 people, I think we can stand for a couple more. If you can ever make it to the morning one let me know! Unfortunately there are no spiritual warrior classes at night (except, I think, in a different language – which could always be interesting). I am SO pumped about this new sneaker color PS. I’m always the one with hideous colored shoes. Finally, the “old” or “outdated” color is actually pretty sweet!

  3. I absolutely LOVE yoga! It’s sometimes tough for me to incorporate both into my training (my studio is a hot power studio so the classes are long and they kick your booty!) so right now I’m trying to learn how to balance the two loves. Any tips on that?

    • My only advice would be to do what you feel like on that specific day! Otherwise you can end up feeling too regimented in a way. If you’re in the mood for ass-kicking hot power yoga, do it! If you’re in the mood for a restorative style, then why not? Though you may also benefit from simply doing shorter restorative yoga flows in your apt using something like … since I’d assume you can’t do hot power yoga in your living room :)

  4. I tend to stay away from distance runs ( though I’ve started incorporating them in the hopes of running a half marathon this year. Some Things you just have to prove to yourself). Even with mostly strength type workouts, I try to get at least one yoga day in a week. It’s amazing the difference, like you said. I look forward to the grounding it brings, & Mondays are the perfect day for that! (& tues & wed & thurs……)

    • Totally agree…I wish I could go to Jivamukti for free!

      I was the same with in regards to distance runs until last year, when I ran my first half marathon in July/August. I haven’t stopped since. It’s addicting! Be warned :)

  5. That sounds really nice. I always feel like the week starts better working out on Monday morning.

    I don’t do yoga but I am really tight from running usually. What type of yoga would you recommend for beginners?

    I like the name ‘spiritual warrior’ :)

    • There are tons of beginner classes around the city. Strala yoga is one of my favorites, and I think that Tara offers a class for starters. I think Yoga Vida does too.

      If you’re in to the idea of yoga not for a workout but for restoring your muscles, then spiritual warrior at Jivamukti is not a bad place to start either. Isn’t it a calming name? I love it. The first time might be awkward, but after that you’ll at least know the routine-ish.

  6. I love yoga, but do it to help me stretch and relieve pain, not so much for running purposes. Most of the time I like a good vigorous session, but every once in a while I need a nice slow pace to help relax. You know, the sloow classes where you feel totally zen at the end. I did Iyengar yoga in college.

    • Maybe you’re not in the right poses! Pigeon is a runner’s dream. It stretches everything that runs along the sciatic nerve and is amazing. Try!

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