Yoga for Runners

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by Olwyn Kearns

Yoga Style Running

It’s the simplicity of the activities that attracts me: throwing on a pair of running shoes and heading out the door: unrolling my Yoga mat. Or maybe I’m back on Nantucket where I don’t need the shoes or the mat— I’m running barefoot on the beach, practicing Yoga on the earth.

In a world so overloaded with social media and gadgets we are always ‘on’, taking time out for ourselves has never been seen as equally important. I believe reconnecting to this earth (of which we sometimes forget we are a part of) is as valuable as the latest iPhone, if not more so (although I love mine dearly).

I have run on and off my whole life. In my 20s I’d run six to eight miles a day. I never went much further than eight miles, because I’d get a pain in my knee. I knew nothing about my body at the time, and the only thing I knew about running was from my Dad, who ran marathons. Thankfully, he told me always to stretch.

When I discovered yoga in the Yoga Room on Nantucket, during my late 20s, I approached it with the same grit and determination as I did my running. I pounded the pavement, then headed to my 90- minute Ashtanga class and wondered how I was injuring myself. I would push myself into positions I knew I was capable of, though perhaps not after a six-mile run. Something had to give. I thought I could do only one or the other, so, aside from the odd run or two a year, I stopped running for a while.

Yoga became part of my life. I was physically attracted to it initially, but the emotional and spiritual healing kept me unrolling my mat every day.  It is that which inspired me to become a yoga teacher myself, studying with teachers in India, New York, and Dublin. Along my path, I learned much about the body—how it works and what it needs (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).  Although I would hear along the way how hard on the body running can be, I missed the freedom of the road.

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