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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?