Tag Archive | yoga practice

No Pressure

The other day I ran into a running Mom I know. We were talking about what we were up to and asking about our running. I said that I was taking a break from running and just walking. In talking to her, I said that without any races on the horizon it has been nice to give my body a break. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. Since I’ve started on the journey, I have always been training for something. I even planned my Thyroid surgery around running the NYC Marathon pushing it off so I could run it. I went 2 weeks afterwards so that I would also have a chance to recover from the Marathon while putting me out of commission for Thanksgiving.

Priorities.

Always a race. Always an event. Always pushing and training. If the world had not stopped, I am 100% sure that I would be currently be in the midst of training for another NYC Marathon. Part of me is a little sad because I have run a marathon every year since 2014. I was also looking forward to being part of Sandy Hook Promise team again. That would have been different pressure. I’m still trying to see if there might be some way to do it, but then a big part of me thinks why?

I will be honest with you. I have never been a fan of running streaks (for me) even thought I consider my marathon’s a streak that is about to be broken. It always seemed like unnecessary pressure on top of all the pressure that comes with training. Currently, I am on a walking streak since June 21rst. I usually do 2 to 3 miles, but some days longer. Every day at least 1 mile. I wanted to complete at least on month, but now I use it to inspire and push me out the door. I was only planning to go 30 days, but I kind of like the push it gives me and plan to keep going.

I have always pushed myself and I do think my body is enjoying being given a chance to just be. This has gone in with my yoga training. I have completed 13 days of my 30 day challenge. I am reminded again that yoga can be many things depending on the day. Some days it is gentle stretching. Some days it is finding balance and some days it is pushing past limits. Every day though is a gift that I give myself.

Seriously.

It is a gift to get on the mat and just focus on the movements. The breathing. The moment. To find stillness. Yes, I know that seems very “yogi” but it is true. Now that I am not practicing with an agenda other than to show up, I realize that yoga is not a means to an end in the way that I thought it was.

I love to run because it clears my mind, but I realize that yoga does that in a whole different way. It provides s whole different set of tools. Now I don’t think I could use yoga in the same way, but it is a great addition for body and mind.

While running, it is all about what pace your are running….. breaking a PR…….Going the distance….. pushing…..

Yoga is not that. Yoga is about showing up. Focusing on your breath. Knowing that each day will be different because each day your body is not the same. It is about small movements that still manage to make your legs quiver. It is about recognizing changes in your body even small things. Like when your realize that your heals are all the way down in your downward dog and knowing that tomorrow your legs might be tighter and it’s ok if they don’t touch.

My sister is actually a yoga guru. She spent a summer on an island (sorry, Jen I don’t remember which one) where she did a full immersion into her practice. There were days when they couldn’t talk. There were days where they spent hours on the mat. Like, seriously, she went the distance with her yoga. I never really understood what she got out of yoga but I think I might be beginning to.

All our lives we think the goal in life is to be busy. To work hard. To go faster. To push harder. To go. Go! Go! To be a hamster on the wheel. Riding the crazy roller coaster thinking that is what we need to get ahead. To ride the Merry Ground and grab the brass ring with both hands.

Some days that is exactly what you need to do.

Some days you don’t.

And the problem is that often we get on the merry go round reaching for the brass ring that sometimes we realize that we don’t even want the ring. Maybe we want cotton candy. Maybe we want the Ferris Wheel where we can enjoy the view and just relax.

This year has been crap. Everyone knows it. That being said, this year is also a gift. Time to assess. A year to think more what you want in life. What serves you and what is missing. I also think that my body is saying while it enjoys all the pushing from racing, it also needs more too. Lets be honest, I am a women in her 50’s who needs to not only push her body but to replenish.

Maybe it’s the yoga… maybe it’s the open schedule…… maybe it’s having time on my hands….. maybe it’s because I have been enjoying having time to breath…. to think…. to be…….. All I know is that is that when it comes to adding things back to the mix, I will have to think long and hard if it serves me

No Shortcuts

I have often said that we need to focus on the journey and not the destination. I realized when doing my yoga practice today that I was not taking my own advice. I have been so focused on achieving certain poses that I have been short changing myself and my practice in pursuit of them. Cheating myself of fully learning and building the strength necessary to achieve them fully.

I think part of this might stem from being a goal orientated person. I run not just because I love it but for events that I sign up for. I started this journey with a goal of completing a Sprint Triathlon. I wasn’t a runner, swimmer, or biker but I had a goal. Goals to me are part of the process. I’ve set goals for distance. I’ve set goals for times. I’ve set monthly/yearly mile challenges. I took this thought process with me to my yoga mat.

Goals…. Goals…. Goals.

To be honest, I know that for me I need goals to motivate me. Big goals. Little goals. Even on a run, sometimes a goal is as simple as running to the next utility pole. Goals are important. Goals are necessary. Not just in running, but really in life. Goals in life might be a simple or grand, but everyone has something. It could the day or master plan goals of finishing finishing school, finding a better job, buying a house or planning for retirements. Goals can also be as small as your daily To Do List to make it to the end of the day. Without these small goals, I might just sit on the coach all day. If you don’t set goals, you might not ever move forward. Staying stagnate is not a way to grow as a person….. as a runner…. as an athlete. Most of all it is not the way to accomplish anything in life.

So with this attitude, I went into yoga. While having a goal to achieve certain poses in my mind is still good, I realized that I was starting to solely practice yoga in pursuit of these poses. I was not giving myself to the mat fully nor was I getting out of my practices what I should. Practicing yoga only in pursuit of poses was short changing my practices and myself. So with this aha moment, I had a mind shift in my practice.

I took a step back. I gave myself fully to the practice allowing myself to not simply pursue a pose but to pursue giving myself over to the practice. On recommendations of some Moms in my MRTT group, I tried some YouTube Yoga classes. These classes were different than what I had been doing because they had the feel of actually being in a yoga studio with the same mindset.

I also realized that while I do still have goals of reaching certain poses that in order to get to the level of fully achieving them that I must build a proper foundation. I was skipping the foundation building required. You can’t finish a marathon before you have trained to run one any more than you can reach more advanced poses without being more in touch with what your body can do, build up the required strength, and learn to trust in your ability.

By the way for those who think that yoga is not a workout, I encourage you to take a class. Holding your body up with your arms will cause you to break out in a sweat especially when your body is build like mine! Standing (or attempting to stand) on one leg will not only test your balance but your leg strength and as you age you do begin to loose balance, so you must work on retaining it. Trusting your body enough to ask it to do things you never imagined possible comes with time and practice.

So while I have goals. I have had the realization that practice might not make perfect but if allowed can be beautiful. I am not sure if I will ever reach my very lofty goals of handstand, wheel pose (backbend) or crow pose but I will pursue them in a more honest fashion now. These are not easy poses and for those that know me, you know that I very rarely take the easy road, so it is fitting.

I am not sure if I will ever obtain these goals but stepping back to go to the basics and build my foundation will help me more than single minded approach. As in life, your might not always reach your goals but if you stop reaching not only will you never achieve them but you will never know your true potential.

So with all of that, I say again……

Life is about the journey and not the destination

And this time I really mean it.