Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Barefoot Running and Yoga, a natural match

  Would you play guitar with mittens on?  Would you listen to a symphony orchestra with ear plugs in or look at art with sunglasses on?  Why wear shoes when you want to get the most information about your surroundings in order to perfect your movement?  This doesn't mean that shoes are "bad".  It just means that in order to learn more about your body and surroundings its best to do so with as little interference or static so your brain can get a clear message.   I have been humbled to discover that yogis and yoginis have known this for ages now.


  It is a natural progression  to go from running barefoot to yoga.  I took a break from running to rest and recover from MS and Adrenal Fatigue.  I started to really crave movement after a while and I was at a point where the benefits of exercise were starting to outweigh the negatives however  it couldn't be as intense as running.  I needed something else to challenge me.   Not only physically, but my mind and heart longed for coping skills that could deal with many layers of myself at once since time is a limited commodity when one is a mother to four boy spawn.

 Yoga has been in my life for years now but only to a small extent.  I learned how to do a Sun Salutation from the Superhero 15 ago.  I also did yoga when I was pregnant with Jupiter, my second son.  I could do a sort of crow and a tripod headstand but had no desire to put in the work to unlock my hips and tight legs. My legs and hips have always been so incredibly tight that it was painful to try and stretch.

  Running makes ones legs, and well my whole body, tight and stiff.  It was daunting to make the commitment to change and improve my body.  I wanted to push myself and learn and to dig deep inside and face what I have avoided facing.  I had lots of stress locked up in my hips and  I was afraid to address that stress.  In hindsight I am thankful that I was cosmically pushed into it much like being pushed into barefoot running due to chronic shin splints and lower back pain.

  Just like with my barefoot running experience, I had to start from the beginning.  Let go of all of my aversions to discomfort and embrace it even.  Learning to make friends with the poses that were most difficult for me was much like ditching my shoes and starting out at a quarter mile barefoot.   Listening carefully to your body, which is an often repeated barefoot runners advice, is imperative.  Knowing how far to push without injury and yet making improvements is tricky yet part of the path forward.

  I am starting to see some fabulous improvement and not just in my body but in my heart and mind as well.  I love movement meditation.  I rarely ran with music or distraction.  I like the sound of my breath and the beat of my heart and being in tune and aware of my surroundings.  Its cathartic.  Now that I have loosened up my hips and legs, I can sit in easy pose and meditate but I still love to meditate through movement.  Yoga asanas are meant to be connected to the breath, so again, a perfect match for me.

"yoga is the progression of improving one's ability over time, not the struggle to do something the body isn't ready for. Just like running." ~Chris Gkikas

   Although I was impatient to get in a good sweat in and stack up some proverbial miles in yoga, you can't go out on the first day and run 10 miles and as in with yoga, you cant just do the splits or a handstand.  The body takes time to adapt and there are nuanced and subtle changes that take place that may look small to our eager eyes but are in fact profound changes taking place.  It takes patience, humility, and compassion for yourself.

  During the last 5 or so months I have noticed many similarities between barefoot running and yoga.  I will be doing a pose and all of the sudden I will get a sense of Deja vu and remember the same feeling in both my body and mind that I had felt while running.  Some poses are like running hills.  In the beginning they seem insurmountable and then one day you stand at the top and think that it was much more enjoyable than you ever imagined it could be.  You see yourself differently and and see that you are better.

 With both yoga and barefoot running I don't regret doing it even if the session or run doesn't turn out the way I hoped it would I am still better off for having done it.  The hard days are often the most rewarding.

  Live long and prosper and take care of those piggies!!


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Cheers,
Angie Bee



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