Yoga for Runners

yoga tree pose

(Photo source)

Although running is my main source of cardiovascular exercise, I also try to cross-train by practicing yoga one day a week. A runner cross training with yoga might sound like an odd practice, but the two exercises are actually quite complementary. But before I discuss the benefits of yoga for runners, let me first explain the benefits and challenges of running.

Benefits of Running – Running is an awesome exercise for weight loss because it burns major calories. It also provides the cardio exercise that your heart needs to stay healthy. Running also is considered a weight-bearing exercise, building muscles in your legs, glutes, arms, and back. Not to mention, running is very inexpensive, all you need is a pair of good running shoes and a path or street.

Challenges of Running– The downside to this is that running works the same muscle groups each time you run. So, unless you cross train, you don’t get much of a workout for these “off” muscles. This constant pounding with no change in exercise strategy may also make you more prone to injuries.

That is where yoga comes in.

Benefits of Yoga for Runners

  • Learn Better Breathing – Both exercises depend on very smooth and controlled breathing. Runners who can improve their VO2 max (the maximum amount of oxygen they consume during exercise) can ultimately improve their running performance. Yoga, when practiced correctly, also can help you increase your VO2 levels. So, if you’re still trying to find your breathing rhythm for running, yoga may help you find it. Likewise, if you’ve mastered breathing for running, then it should be an easy jump for you to adapt to yoga breathing.
  • Builds Your Core – Yoga is great for strengthening a runner’s core, the body’s foundation for all movement. Runners with a strong core, including abs and lower back, tend to run faster and harder than those with a weak core.
  • Works Opposite Muscles – According to Yoga Journal, a typical runner experiences too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating, and loosening work. Without opposing movements, the body will compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability. Compensation puts stress on muscles, joints, and the entire skeletal system, and may eventually lead to injuries. Yoga strengthens your intrinsic muscle groups that support and strengthen the body’s skeletal system. It also provides a nice counter balance to a runner’s one-dimensional workouts.
  • Improves Flexibility – Most runners would agree that you don’t have to be flexible to be a good runner, but being flexible does not hurt running efforts, and it may even help. Runners who are flexible are often less prone to injury, recover more quickly from runs, and see improvements in overall strength and endurance. Yoga can be used to work opposite muscles groups but it can also increase  a runner’s flexibility, especially in the hips.
  • Provides a Break – When you’ve been running as long as I have, you can easily get burned out and even a little bored with running if you don’t change it up every so often.  As with any cross training activity, yoga gives you a physical and mental vacation from running and may give you the energy boost you need to continue with your running workout each week.

Namaste and Happy Running!

And The Winner Is…

(Photo source)

And the winner of 27 Things to Know About Yoga is….Carrie from Simply Fitting Into My Life And My Old Jeans! And, what’s even better is that Carrie is a Mamavation mom, just like me! I swear it was not fixed. But seriously, all moms deserve something free and I think this yoga book will be great for her. Congratulations Carrie! I’ll be emailing you for your address so I can send you the book!

Thanks so much everyone for leaving comments to enter the giveaway. Look for more giveaways in the coming weeks!

I’m off to watch Psych on Hulu!

Yoga Book Giveaway!

Oh yoga, how I missed you! I finally made it to yoga after missing class for two weeks straight. I absolutely love the yoga instructor at my studio. I know I’ve said that before, but she is one of the reasons I get up so early on Saturday mornings, just to get there 30 minutes before class so I can reserve a space. Yes, she is THAT good! I happened to see her at Target last week (after I missed her class). I ducked into another aisle – I didn’t want her to remember I missed her class. Plus, Ms. M and Mr. C were not being very Zen-like. But, yesterday’s class was amazing as usual. We did quite a few hip openers, which I really needed since I did a bunch of lunges on Thursday morning and was still feeling it two days later.

And Speaking of  Yoga

Have you ever been in a yoga class and not understood what the instructor says? This happens to me more often than I like to admit. I usually just watch someone else in the class, hoping that I’ll catch on. I’ve also been in a situation where my instructor says something in yoga-ese (aka Sanskrit) and I’m just clueless. I find that nodding and looking very serious only goes so far. Well, if these things have ever happened to you, you’re in luck!

Last month, I received an awesome little book – 27 Things to Know About Yoga. Or, as I like to call it, everything you wanted to know about yoga but were afraid to ask, book. The book was sent to me for review, which I am totally grateful! I learned quite a bit from this book, despite it being only 176 pages. But that’s one of the real pluses of the book, it’s short, very easy to read, and provides just enough detail to make you feel smarter about yoga.

It’s All Sanskrit To Me

For instance, I finally learned what yoga mudra is! It’s a symbolic physical gesture usually made with the hands, ie. Hands together at heart center.  So yesterday, when my yogini said, “brings your hands into yoga mudra”, I nodded reassuringly and felt much better that I was not the clueless one in the room. I imagine a conversation with the lady next to me….Excuse me, do you speak Sanskrit? Why yes, I do.

Other Things I learned About Yoga

  • The types of yoga – It really is great for a quick review and follow-up reference, but not if you want to go really in-depth in one area.
  • Yoga Manners – For the most part, I follow good manners for yoga, according to what is spelled out in the book. Although, I have been guilty of leaving before the end of savasana – no one is perfect.
  • The teacher makes the student – I could have written this chapter!!! Although I totally know this from experience, the book really reinforced this principle.

Now, For the Yoga Book Giveaway!

If you want to brush up on your Sanskrit or want to learn about the limbs of yoga, you have the opportunity to do just that! I’m giving away one copy of 27 Things to Know About Yoga to one reader. How to enter the Yoga book giveaway – just leave a comment on this post, or retweet this post and voila….you’re entered! You have until Wednesday, August 4, at 10 PM Eastern to enter. Come on Healthy Living Summit attendees, show me some love!

Good night all and Namaste

Yoga Poses: Are you doing them correctly?

Hi All! I just finished chatting with a bunch of #Fitblog women on Tinychat – so fun! It was great to see so many people turn out. I even saw some familiar names like MerryMishaps and fANNEtasticfood. I miss all of the Fitbloggin crew – can we have a reunion! 🙂 Not sure if I’ll be able to make next Tuesday’s chat #Fitblog chat. I’m in Austin on Monday and Tuesday for business – will try though.

(Photo courtesy of Flickr)

Training – Today was a lighter day for me running wise – only 5.5 miles. I’ll be running 8 miles at some point this week. I really love running but I think there is a huge caveat – it takes so much of my time when I’m training! I will eventually be working up to a 1.5-2 hour run. With 2 kids, a husband, and full-time job (plus two blogs), who really has 2 hours to dedicate to running? Crazy I tell ya. But if Dimity can do it, so can I! And speaking of Dimity, if you’re a running mommy, you’ve got to pick up the book Run Like a Mother – it really confirms how and why we can (and need to) be mothers and runners at the same time.

Yoga News – I came across a cool news brief today in the Chicago Tribune. It gives a description of the do’s and don’ts of getting into common yoga poses. If you think you’re doing a forward fold correctly – you must see this photo! Downdog? Nope, you’re probably doing it wrong, or at least not as well as you could be.

Ok, bloggies, off to bed for me. Still trying to get 8 hours of sleep – at least one night this week!

Green Tea Living

Hey there!

Today was our first session of beginner yoga at work. The class, which was a complimentary session, was held in our small auditorium onsite. I have been so excited for so long about this class that it pains to me to say…the class was extremely underwhelming. It was so basic that I felt like I didn’t receive any benefit other than a break from work. Granted, some of the 10 women who attend were complete yoga novices, but it still left me disappointed. However, I have committed myself to 4 more weeks (or sessions) of the class. I really hope it gets better or I will be totally bummed.

When I came home from work, my day got a little better when I saw that a new book had arrived in the mail…Green Tea Living 2

Green Tea Living is a Japan-inspired guide to eco-friendly health, habits, and happiness. Although it focuses much of the book on the healing (and other) properties of green tea, it also offers insight into how we can live greener lives, similar to how they live in Japan. The book is super cute and is a quick read – I read or scanned most of the book in just an hour. It is also easy to navigate with specific chapters dedicated to eco-friendly beauty, eating, cleaning, healing, and much more. It even has references to the practice of yoga which was nice surprise.

This book totally inspires me to drink green tea…

Yogi Green Tea

But it also made me think about how wasteful people can be, including myself. That’s one thing I really want to improve on this year is cutting down on unnecessary waste – reusing shopping bags, recycling water bottles and cans, and trying to fix things around the house before buying something new. Holly, you’d be so proud of my new outlook on green living! 

Gotta finish packing for my trip to Phoenix tomorrow. Hope you’re staying warm and dry wherever you are!

Yoga – No Excuses

Hey There! 

I don’t know what the problem is  – yesterday and today, running has been so HARD! I could barely make it through 4 miles on the treadmill. Spring weather can NOT come soon enough!

After my mediocre run, I replenished with some Kashi Go Lean Crunch…

12.28 Kashi Go Lean Crunch

Then, it was off to my first day of work after 10 days of being off. The day was actually really good. Half the office was still on vacation so it was nice and quiet. I ended up getting a ton of things done. I hope that it’s the same way tomorrow. Plus, when I walked to my desk this morning, there was a cute little Christmas card and a Christmas tree magnet on my desk from a coworker – how sweet!

12.28 Christmas Tree Magnet

About 11 AM, I started getting a snack attack but just wasn’t ready for lunch. Instead, I grabbed a peppermint chocolate Luna bar….

12.28 Luna bar

It tasted sooo good going down, but I think I ate it way too fast because I had stomach cramps for the rest of the day, ugh!

Lunch ended up being leftovers from the other night – a little spinach risotto and mesquite chicken…

12.28 Spinach Risotto

Luckily, my stomach eased up enough to let me eat this, but then it was back to cramping again. Later in the afternoon, I found out some GREAT news! A few months ago, I mentioned on one of my posts that my office was going to offer onsite yoga once a week. Well, our office yoga starts next week – woo hoo!!! I am so excited! My colleague who is arranging the yoga class brought the instructor by my desk to introduce me. How cool is it that I can now practice yoga at least once a week and not even have to leave my office? Now I have no excuse not to practice. Hmm…I think I might have to buy a new yoga mat to celebrate!

Any recommendations on a good yoga mat????

A great thing about the yoga class, aside from it being onsite, is that my company is paying for the majority of the class. Perfect – nearly free yoga! I was so thrilled that my stomach felt a little better. I decided to splurge and have some this….

12.28 Enstrom toffee

Mmmm, melt in your mouth, Enstrom English toffee! This is my absolute favorite toffee and I only have it once a year around the Christmas holiday (good thing too, or else I’d be huge!). If you have never tried this toffee, I highly recommend it. But a word of caution, it is very hard to STOP eating it. I took two small pieces from a gift box that was delivered to our office. But, while walking to the staff lounge, I accidentally dropped one piece on the ground. I contemplated picking it up and eating it anyway (yes, that’s how good it is!), but decided to just throw it away and – what else? – get another piece to replace it!

My commute home was a breeze and I was happy to see that dinner was nearly ready when I arrived. It was a basil chicken stir fry kind of a night…

12.28 chicken stirfry 1 good, and not too spicy, which was good for my tummy…

12.28 chicken stir fry 3

Scott’s parents are taking us and Scott’s brother and sister-in-law out for an early New Year’s dinner tomorrow night. Can’t wait!

Have a great night everyone and see you tomorrow.

Not Your Hello Kitty Yoga

Happy Christmas Eve²!

I can’t believe Christmas is nearly here – time sure flies when you’re busy. Although Wednesday is usually my day off for running, I decided to do a fast 30 minutes on the treadmill (Yes, my name is Jennifer and I’m a running addict) knowing that I may not run on Friday. About an hour after running, I headed to the gym for a much-needed 60-minute yoga session.

12.23 hello kitty yoga

Don’t let this picture fool you. There was nothing cute and cuddly about this yoga class. I have to admit, this class kicked my A-S today! Of course, I haven’t been to yoga since October, so the a-kickin’ was to be expected. Every pose seemed harder than the next. I had to really concentrate the whole time, when I can usually relax and just go with the flow. The only person that seemed to be having as much trouble was the 60-year old guy next to me – not a good sign on my part. I really think I overdid it between running and then yoga (and barely eating breakfast). I actually felt sick during shavasana but tried to lay there calmly to let the nausea pass. 

Anyway, I did get to show off my new yoga shirt from Lucy…

12.23 Lucy bag

Each year about this time, Lucy comes out with its limited edition Breathe t-shirts. I don’t know why I haven’t seen these shirts until this year, but as soon as I saw them I just had to buy one…

12.23 Lucy breathe shirt 1

Merry Christmas to me! How perfect is this for yoga, running, or really any sport! In addition to having “breathe” written on the front, the shirt sleeves also were creatively detailed. Too bad the shirts only come in white and black, otherwise I think I would have bought more (maybe that’s a blessing to my bank account!).

12.23 Lucy breathe shirt 4

After yoga, I spent the rest of the day wrapping gifts – save for an hour or two getting my hair cut (finally, time to relax!). I think I counted 35 gifts that I wrapped just today! I wrapped about 10 over the weekend, and that doesn’t even count the gifts that I already gave to my family members in Michigan over Thanksgiving. I really think we went way overboard on Christmas this year. Did anyone else overdo it on presents this year?

Gotta run to prepare for all of the festive fun for tomorrow. Have a wonderful night! 

Free Week of Yoga During National Yoga Month

Hey there. I’ve had such a long day. It seemed like it was never going to end. It doesn’t help that it was 72 degrees and sunny outside and I wasn’t able to get out for lunch. I kept hearing people say how gorgeous it was outside, so I decided to leave work earlier than planned.

Seeing as September is National Yoga Month, I headed to an outdoor mall near my house to check out the new yoga and running lines at Lucy and the Gap.


Me, in my most comfortable yoga pose and clothes!

Lucy had a bunch of brand new yoga and running gear – in fact they were just putting out some cool new t-shirts when I arrived. Lucy gear at full price is way too expensive for my budget so I have to wait for things to go on sale – I’m sure more than one of you can relate. On the other hand, the Gap had hardly anything on display, except for yoga pants, which was a big disappointment. Maybe I just need to go to their new affiliate store Athleta to fill my yoga and running gear needs.

On another note, both Lucy and Athleta have online communities that you can participate in by adding comments to a blog or attending events, etc. Way cool!

And, if you’re interested in trying yoga during National Yoga Month, check out They have a promotion running right now where you can attend a free week of yoga classes in September at a studio near your house. You just fill out the form and it brings up all of the participating studios near your zip code.

Well, after my short and fruitless shopping excursion, I picked up dinner at Noodles cafe and headed home.

9.1 dinner1

I had a cup of tomato basil soup to which I added a bunch of fresh crumbled feta cheese. I’ve never had Noodle’s tomato basil soup before but I could have sworn this looked, smelled, and even tasted like tomato sauce and NOT tomato basil soup. I’m almost wondering if they gave me a scoop of their marinara sauce and not the soup! It was ok enough to eat though, but not what I expected. I also made a little homemade hummus bread…

9.1 dinner2

I took two very small pieces of leftover ciabatta bread and spread about 2 tbsp of red pepper hummus on top, then sprinkled the bread with fresh crumbled feta. The hummus bread was great alone and also for dipping in the soup!

There were too many rice krispy treats left from last night’s dessert, so I thought I’d have a couple more to help us get rid of them faster – he he!

9.1 dessert

I even added a dollop of MaraNatha all-natural creamy peanut butter to give my krispy a little protein and MUFA kick. The only thing that would have made this simple dessert better is melted chocolate. Hmmm….maybe tomorrow!

I’m off to do a little magazine reading and then, hopefully, hitting the sack early tonight.

Take care everyone and see you in the AM!

How Yoga Instructors Affect Our Practice

Starting my day with yoga is usually a very uplifting experience. But, today’s class did not energize me as much as usual and the main reason was because of the instructor. I really feel that the yog or yogini can make or break your yoga experience. Some may argue this point, but I’ll give you a first-hand example.

Yoga PoseMe, working on my yoga balance in my backyard. 

I am use to a very centered, down-to-earth instructor who is quite challenging but also helps you as much as you need during each session. My usual yogini, we’ll call her Kate, always has a positive attitude, a smile on her face, and seems to really love teaching yoga classes. Her positive energy really flows to the class too. This is obvious when you see the many relationships she’s built with her students and her class is always full. So, each week when I attend class, I know that I am going to leave feeling even better than I did when I walked in the door.

At last week’s class, “Kate” mentioned that she would not be teaching the class today and that she would arrange a fill-in yoga instructor, we’ll call her “Lori”. So, I headed into class today, still very sleepy, but ready for a super-charged class. The class was unusually bare, only about 4 people in there other than myself. When 8 AM rolled around and there was no instructor to be seen, I began to wonder if there would even be class today. But then, in walks “Lori”. I took one look at her and my heart sunk. She was the yoga instructor I had about 5 years ago when I first started practicing yoga. She is not at all upbeat and seems to always be distracted and in a bad mood.

Yoga Reflections: I wish my yoga class looked !

Today, she looked even more rushed and distracted than I had remembered. She said that she was finishing up with another client (apparently she had a personal training session right before class) and that she’d be a few minutes late, then walked out of the room. I debated on whether I should walk out right after her but began talking to a fellow classmate and couldn’t make my tactful escape.

“Lori” finally started class at 8:05 AM and took us through a series of basic sun salutations, not very challenging, yet somehow her pattern seemed disjointed. She would leave us in poses for what seemed like forever, while she fiddled with the music or looked out the window. And, not once did she come over to me or anyone else in the class to help with poses, which really seemed odd to me. I stuck with it through the entire class, making myself do extra deep stretches and take extra deep breaths. After 50 minutes of sneaking peaks at the clock, class was finally wrapping up. We all went into savasana and Lori promptly left the room! I assume she had more important things to do. She came back in, literally, five minutes later to sit and say Namaste.

Now I know that every yoga class can’t be an out-of-body experience, but I expect a little more from my yogini than what I got today. I am debating whether I want to let my usual yogi know that her temporary replacement was less than professional. But, after I thought about it, one of the principles of yoga is that you should always think positive and keep a positive attitude. So, I think I will keep my negativity to myself for the time being. But, if “Lori” walks into my Saturday class again, I’m walking to the nearest exit.