Runners Love Yoga Challenge

My good friend and fellow runner, Bethany, challenged me to a yoga challenge on IG this week and since my life has been so much more running-centric than I would like, I thought it was great motivation to incorporate more yoga into my life. This especially comes at a critical time with about 8-weeks left to the Chicago Marathon, it’s probably more important to stay focused and do more yoga and strength training throughout the next few weeks.

IG yoga challenges are a funny thing. They usually have some incentive to post including prizes or giveaways. This one is sponsored by RunnersLoveYoga (yes we do!) and boasts prizes from Nuun and DoYogaRunFaster swag. The challenge is to post a picture or video each day with the host’s pose of the day, include the hashtags and handle tags, and inspire others while getting a physical and emotional benefit of being more consistent with your yoga practice.

Day 1: Parivrtta Utkatasana – aka Revolved Chair Pose

This posture strengthens so many running-critical muscles in your legs and glutes (booty), but also targets a stretch along your IT band and into your glutes/piriformis. Translation? Every runner needs this in their life. Day 1 fell on my long run day so after 16 hilly miles, this was not only challenging, it was necessary. We happened to be taking a mini-tour through Pisgah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway, so I thought it would make great inspiration for the post. I included a tribute to my Uncle Billy, who lost his battle with cancer Saturday night. I found out at mile 13 of my long run, and after a solid cry-fest in the Target parking lot, I finished those last few miles strong, inspired by the strength of my auntie and cousins.

Day 2: Parivrrta Anjaneyasana – Revolved Lunge Pose

This is actually one of my favorite postures and I include it on my regular practice. It’s in my Dharma flow from when I went through YTT three years ago and it has so many benefits to it. I love that it makes me feel like a contortionist, and it feels like I’m wringing out my digestive system while stretching my IT band and piriformis. I did a modified version of this during my pregnancy, where I just kept my back knee down for support instead of balancing in a lunge position. I had to run some errands in downtown Asheville in the River Arts District, so I thought that made for a really fun and colorful backdrop for my post on day 2. This was in front of the NC Glass Center, where Landon took a glass class over the weekend! How fun that we live near such cool opportunities! I highly recommend it, BTW. It was slightly on the pricey side ($50 for a one-on-one class) but it’s something Landon has shown so much interest in, and hey – we moved him across the country for a second time, I can pitch in for that!

Day 3: Baddha Virabhadrasana – Humble Warrior

Another posture I keep in my regular practice! I usually do this one as a transition from warrior II to toppling tree pose. It helps me square out my hips and open my chest into that “cobra action” before balancing over my front leg and raising my back leg. I just snapped a quick pic after my 4-mile run, and loved the stretch in my chest (I have been sitting at a computer a lot lately, so I tend to get a little tight there) and in my whole front hip-flexor area. I try to remember to keep my glute fired up in this posture, it helps to protect my lower back and avoids me from sinking into my joints (a problem I have with being generally more “flexible” – it’s not always a blessing to be flexible in yoga).

Day 4: Anjaneyasana – Low Lunge Pose

Ugh, show me a runner who doesn’t need this in their life. I guess that’s the best part about doing a Runners Love Yoga yoga challenge, they hit all the postures runners need. I do a similar posture in my practice called Kapyasana. It’s my love to hate posture that activates just about every muscle in my body, makes me feel so strong but so humble at the same time. Low lunge is a little less intense, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less important. I keep my glute fired in this posture to protect my lower back and I’m always cautious not to be directly on my kneecap of the back leg. With meditation and breathing techniques, I can usually find a little more stretch in my hip flexors over time. I staged this picture at the iconic brewery I work at in front of these stunning windows. I think it gives the photo a really geometric look and the lines add some fun dimention.

Day 5: Ardha hanumanasana – Half Split Pose

Unlike most of the postures we’ve gone through this week, Ardha hanumanasana isn’t in my regular practice. I do a ton of hamstring work in different ways, but don’t usually hit on this one. Not for any reason in particular other than it’s not in the flow that I was assigned by Dharma so sometimes I just forget about it. I’ve actually needed more of half split in my life. My left hammie is a little cranky lately and I can’t quite put my finger on why other than it might need more strength and stretch to keep up with my ramping up miles. Not to mention, I’ve been running so many more hills than I’m used to so I’m sure that’s just taking a different kind of toll on my body all around. I ran just over four miles in some of the thickest humidity I’ve every ran. Maryland was often referred to as “the swamp” and everyone in WNC calls Asheville a rainforest sooooo insert a picture of my “excited face” here on that one. (hint, it’s not very exciting) Even though I had a different picture planned, I actually decided to bust out a half split in the middle of dinner at a wing cafe on Lake Julian when this AMAZING rainbow made an appearance! Kudos to my son, Landon, who didn’t whine too much when I asked him to be my “yoga-tographer” for a quick second.

Overall, this was a great challenge! I realized I’m not a fan of posting so often on IG, I definitely prefer less over more so posting 5-days in a row felt a bit “spammy” to me. The actual postures have a lot of benefit to the running, and the average person in general! Most of them are poses I try to incorporate daily, some of them are ones I forget about but could easily sub in throughout my practice to get more and different benefits in those muscle groups. Finally, I did appreciate posting more yoga postures on my RunningYogiMom IG. It’s been very “runner-centric” lately and have been craving that incorporation. This was a fun way to not only restablish my practice (which has been lacking off the ‘gram as well) but connect virtually from afar with Bethany (@run.craft.repeat) who participated and initially challenged me in the first place. Thanks for the push! Fingers crossed one of us gets a little kick back from those amazing giveaways! 😉

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