Let Gravity Move You: Helpful Tips One Yogini Learned from a Modest Ultra Runner.
Let me begin with an important detail: I am not a runner nor do I plan to embark upon the training path.
I actually prefer lying horizontal on my yoga mat in a warm studio surrounded by a community of sweaty yogis. I’ve been practicing yoga for nearly five years—combining three variations several days a week.
You see, I’ve been spoiled by the convenience and accessibility offered by urban yoga studios. Regimented planning efforts were non existent on my part because if I missed the 6pm class I could easily catch the 7pm, or the 7:30pm, or even the 9pm candlelight flow…I think you catch my drift.
I now find myself in a region with limited access to community yoga, as I once knew.
Upon moving to Huaraz, the anxiety began to build when I realized the need to implement a home practice. After a few interesting attempts, it was apparent that my ‘home practice’ was rather comical. I grew concerned that I would eventually lose my strength and my practice all together would crumble.
Well, that surely didn’t happen. What did happen, however, was something I didn’t expect…
I’ve always felt wild about nature and spending significant time outside—enraptured by views that span for miles—the faint sound of a bird’s song, jagged snow capped peaks reaching towards the sun, wildflowers, a nibbling field mouse destroying a friend’s chaco sandal, wind howling through a valley bending the tips of tall grass blades—mimicking the serenity of waves finding their way across a clear blue mountain lake.
I now find myself outside, on meandering trails, almost daily. And, on nearly half of those outings, I share the trail with my modest ultra-running boyfriend—hiking together. Conversations began to blossom as I picked his brain.
This got me thinking…am I strong enough to run some of these wild Peruvian trails even though I’m self conscious as a runner? (Especially when I hear the pounding sound of my own footsteps hitting the ground like a bowling ball bouncing out of control down the wooden lane.)
An honest disclaimer: the list below is my interpretation of advice—which surprisingly parallels quite nicely with my yoga practice:
Let gravity do the work: Lean forward, especially on downhill portions. If you lean forward, gravity will move you—it’s a natural feeling. Give it a try!
Engage your Core: Once you engage your core, you will feel a release of energy that propels your body in a forward motion. This improves balance and internal stability.
Pick your line: Similar to your drishti, or focused gaze, keep a steady gaze a few steps in front of you—chose your line and commit—your foot placement will follow your gaze.
Put your head down and focus: Not literally of course, because you need to watch for obstacles. But, in order to run, you must “put your head down and actually run—that’s how you get stronger and build endurance.”
Active recovery: Recovery between runs is vital—shake out your legs after a long run—go outside, go for a walk or a hike. (In my case, one must actually go for a long run before they are able to implement this tip.)
Stride: Practice an athletic stance, your feet shouldn’t be more than shoulder width apart. Try to land and push off of the forefront of your foot and fly…er, I mean stay elevated in the air longer…and finally, monitor your strides to be approximately the span of your body, perhaps a tad longer.
Stop wearing deodorant and start wearing Hokas: Ok, he didn’t say that, but I have stopped wearing deodorant and surprisingly I’ve stopped needing it—I promise I do not smell that bad and hopefully I will avoid some sort of cancer down the road. As for the Hokas…well, they are an interesting take on footwear and people love them. I’m not quite there nor am I sure what else to say.
And a few tips from me, the non-runner:
Set a realistic goal and be gentle with yourself: I tend to give myself a get out of jail free card every now and again, even in yoga, I say to myself “Lace, if you’re not feeling motivated today, you can roll out your mat near the back of the studio.” Or, with running, I say: “You can walk to point X if you run to point Z.” This mentality keeps me moving, it helps me get my tush out the door…perhaps I’m a wimp, but there is no reason you need to run door-to-door, unless you want to.
Always return to your breath: Slow your breath. Inhale a steady sip of air followed by a long exhale.
Sing out loud—really loud!
Apply plenty of sunscreen!
As I mentioned, I’m not a runner, but I have embarked upon a moving meditation—off my mat and out into nature.
Yoga is always there…and you don’t necessarily have to be in a studio or in a far off land where it’s said to have originated to experience your practice.
A friend once passed along these wise words of Sharon Gannon:
“You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do are yoga exercises, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.”
Lacy Rae Ramunno is a gal who chases many butterflies. An artist at heart, Interior Designer by trade, a lover of nature and all things snow capped. Passionate about healthy living and balance, she recently relocated to Huaraz, Peru in search of a soul-enriching experience. Thankfully, she’s maintained remote employment with a fantastic firm, the Ellipse Group and is participating in an apprenticeship with elephant journal. Lacy is currently rediscovering her talent for visual communication through different mediums—while learning to pair that love with the written word as a component of her journey. Perhaps she’ll pick up some Spanish along the way.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise
photo credit: Fisher Creative