Tag Archives: Yoga

07292019 – Yoga & Run & Bouldering

The kids are at a different school for programming this week and it is really close to the bouldering gym so I decided to go there and climb a little before running.  When I got there a yoga class was getting ready to start so I decided to go ahead and join it.  It was a Vinyasa I class, this is their description of the class:

Vinyasa is the staple of the Minneapolis Bouldering Project yoga program. This movement based practice emphasizes intentional breathing, mindful transitions, postural alignment, and self-acceptance. Each class features a gentle integration, gradual warm-up, sequenced flows, and sun salutations. Practitioners can expect optional, judgement-free opportunities to explore arm-balances and inversions. The difficulty of the class increases with the level of Vinyasa (I, II or III), but each class features modifications and safe-space to make your practice exactly what YOU need it to be. A tranquil cool-down and closing savasana help integrate your yoga practice into life off the mat.

Its been awhile since I’ve done any real yoga or mobility and I’ve been stiff and sore, so this seemed like a good idea.  It was, I felt good afterwards, but it wasn’t an easy hour! I was sweating like crazy and had a few poses that I couldn’t get into or hold.  I should definitely do more yoga!  Or I guess at least do the mobility parts of the programmed workouts.

Afterwards I did a few climbing routes, I think 5 total.  Almost all of them were red which is one step up from yellow or the easiest.

Then I went for a run on the River.  This part of the river is very different from where I had been running earlier this summer.  I went North from Plymouth on the River and decided to cross on Broadway, I could maybe have gone to the Lowry bridge, but that isn’t quite as nice.  I crossed Broadway and was surprised that there wasn’t access to the new bike trail from Broadway. When I looked later, it was just a little bit North of Broadway.  I turned on the next street and headed South turned right and wound around until I got to the trail.  Then I followed the trail and then ran to the river’s edge and followed that and actually ran under the bridge. I hugged the river until I got to Nicollet Island then ran around Nicollet Island’s Southern end before getting onto the river trail on St. Anthony Main.  I crossed the Stone Arch Bridge and then followed the trail through the edge of downtown along the Mississippi River. I hit a little bit of dirt trails after the playground and finished up by going under Plymouth Ave.

The total was 4.82 miles in 42:50.

Meditation During a Run?

A large statue in Bangalore depicting Shiva me...
Image via Wikipedia

When I say meditation what comes to mind? Yoga? Monks? Probably not Christianity though.  For whatever reason meditation conjures up negative ideas and feelings for many people.  But Warren Kay is willing to take a deeper look at it in his Running the Sacred Art book.

Kay sees meditation as the next step after prayer or a deeper form of prayer. Wikipedia defines it as “a mental discipline by which one attempts to get beyond the conditioned, “thinking” mind into a deeper state of relaxation or awareness” Kay takes it a step further by including the heart or emotions into your pondering relaxation.  He describes it more of a focusing of the mind and heart on God.

We have all gone for a run during a stressful point in time and come back from that run with stress relieved and if we are lucky – a solution to the problem.  Kay calls this anonymous meditation. We don’t necessarily intend to dwell on something but we focus on it and find clarity.  This is a good component of running and one that many runners identify as a reason for running.

Kay thinks we should take it even further.  Anonymous is good, but we occasionally need to take the time to self-reflect and look deeper inside ourselves. On page 79 he differentiates between meditation and religious meditation:

The aim of meditation is to bring enlightenment and harmony to us as human creatures – a harmony of body, mind, and spirit. . . But for all forms of religious meditation, the aim is to allow God’s presence in and with us to become the reality that gives meaning to everything that we do.

Applications of Meditative Running

One way to listen to the inside is by using Seed Mantras. This appears to be the most basic form of mantra and relies mainly on repetitive sounds. This could be deep breathing, sound of crunching leaves or gravel. Other types of mantras are using a special word or phrase to help concentrate your thoughts. This would be like Yoga where you use different mantras with different body positions and motions. The mantra should be short, easy to repeat, and meaningful to you.  When I lived in New Jersey and worked with an immigrant’s rights organization I picked up the phrase – “Si se Puede.” (wikipedia) You may be more familiar with the more recent use of the English translation – “Yes we Can.” Either way it was rythmnical and easy to repeat.  I didn’t use it a lot but would think about it sometimes while trying to establish a pace.

Meditative running is probably easy for rhythm runners like Ryan Hall, who often talks about worshiping God while running.  Here are a few mantras Kay suggests:

  • Peace to all
  • God will help
  • God is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1)

A final form of meditation is using a “divine reading.” This is using a short passage or story to guide your thinking during the run or meditation. It isn’t that you are trying to grasp the actual meaning of the words or story but that you are letting it inform and challenge you.

Obviously Kay suggests that you read something like a passage of Scripture or something from a piece of devotional literature.  He also suggests that you can read a work of philosophy or theology. But more simply you can pick a story out of the local newspaper or a magazine, letting its content soak in.  Ultimately, he says it doesn’t matter what you read, as long as you do so with a spiritual intent.

The Plan

To make it work, Kay suggests three steps for meditative running.  First choosing a mantra or divine reading to focus on during the run.  Actually running, remembering to meditate and enjoy the run.  Finally stretching and relaxing when you return.  He suggests taking some time to transition back into the normal routine through journaling or some other form of reflection.

I appreciate his reassuring point that if you choose to do meditative runs, don’t be disappointed if occasionally they are dull or boring.  This is part of life!

[tags] Warren Kay, Spiritual Art, Meditation, Running [/tags]

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A Controversy of Stretching

I recently reported that I signed up to be included in a USATF sponsored Stretch Study, which is looking at a broad cross section of regular runners to determine if stretching before running (and warming up) helps prevent or causes injuries. A recent New York Times article actually looks into some of the current research around athletes and stretching and comes up with a conclusive answer that isn’t very conclusive!

That doesn’t make any sense does it? Well it seems that the body of current research is very mixed about the importance of stretching and is actually beginning to lean towards the idea that stretching doesn’t actually help an athlete perform better. But when the reporter asked the various researchers if they stretched or not – all of them did!

It has been bantered about in the running community for awhile and more people are beginning to shy away from so called “static stretching” where you hold a stretch for 10 seconds and leaning towards something called “active or dynamic stretching” where you take you muscles through a range of motion and hold any one position for at most 3 seconds.

If your goal is to prevent injury, Dr. Gilchrist said, stretching does not seem to be enough. Warming up, though, can help. If you start out by moving through a range of motions that you’ll use during activity, you are less likely to be injured.

Runners often think that flexibility is important, even to the point of spending hours stretching and doing yoga. One quoted study actually found that…

…distance runners do not benefit from being flexible, he found. The most efficient runners, those who exerted the least effort to maintain a pace, were the stiffest.

A private practice orthopediest went so far to say “If stretching was a drug, it would be recalled,” Dr. Kenny said. He claims that stretching actually weakens performance and increases risk of injury.

So what does all of this really mean? Who knows! I think as with much in this life moderation is the key. If you spend lots of time focusing on stretching – it might be better spent somewhere else. You need to find what works best for your body but the extremes probably don’t work for anyone!

Do you stretch? When do you stretch? Take the poll (on the right) and let us know!

[tags] Stretching, Stretch, Training, Research, Running [/tags]

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