“I was seeing small improvements in my flexibility and loved the way it made me feel both mentally and physically, plus it was keeping me running!!”
As a child, after numerous failed attempts at dance, gymnastics, softball, basketball, and field hockey, I learned that I was not much of an athlete. It wasn’t until I went away to college that I learned otherwise. Living in a dorm that looked out over Heartbreak Hill, the final leg of the Boston Marathon, inspired me to try out a different sport, running. I very quickly discovered that not only did I enjoy it, but I was pretty good at it. Fast forward 30 plus years, and here I am still running. I still enjoy it even though my pace has decreased and the aches and pains of pounding the pavement for so long have increased. Through running (and canoeing competively, which I took up in my 20’s), I gained great strength and endurance, but I lost what little flexibility I had.
Off and on over the years, I have suffered with pain in my left hip and leg, for which I have seen a variety of medical specialists, none of whom has given me any lasting relief. Two years ago, a friend invited me to try Bikram yoga. I attended one class and hated it! I went home and slept all afternoon and woke up only to throw up. Even though I swore I would never again do Bikram yoga, I was open to trying other forms of yoga. I started attending yoga classes at the local Y and at a studio downtown. A year later, another friend invited me to attend a Bikram class. Feeling more confident with my poses and enjoying the whole mental aspect of yoga, I decided to give it another shot. This second time around was a much better experience than the first, but I still wasn’t sold on it. I did however, like the way I felt AFTER the practice. This feeling drew me back again and again.
I had been practicing Bikram yoga for about a month when tragedy struck my family. My brother, Matt, was killed in an accident in Vermont. I hadn’t been doing much running when he died, but decided to run the Richmond Marathon in his memory. He had made a surprise trip down to be a part of my pit crew for my first marathon in 2005, so I felt it was only fitting to run this second one for him. My training regimen consisted of alternating running days with yoga days. I only ran 3 to 4 days per week, which was far less than my training for any previous distance races. When Bikram Yoga Richmond announced they were going to sponsor a marathon team, I jumped at the chance to represent them. By this time, I was totally sold on the practice. I was seeing small improvements in my flexibility and loved the way it made me feel both mentally and physically, plus it was keeping me running!! When the 60-day Challenge was announced, I decided that it would be impossible for me to complete both the marathon and the challenge at the same time. After listening to the all of the hype however, I couldn’t resist signing up for the 40-day Challenge. Today, I am proud to say that I completed both the marathon and the challenge!! I’m not sure I could have completed one without the other. The long distance running tightened up my hips and hamstrings, and regular practice of Bikram yoga loosened them up enough to keep me running.
I’m taking a bit of a break from running now due to the cold weather, but don’t plan to take a break from Bikram yoga. It has become a part of my lifestyle. I’ve signed up for the 30-day Challenge beginning January 1st , which will require me to practice yoga daily for 30 days straight. My goal is much simpler now however, I just want to practice yoga for the sake of practicing yoga!