WOW – I have been teaching Yoga for Runners for over 16 years!! Happy birthday to me.
It began in 2001 when I had completed the first year of my 2 year teacher training program. Having experienced how yoga had benefited my body issues, I was very keen to share it with the runners in my life. You know what it is like when you feel you have found something truly life-altering and you want to shout it out to the world and put everyone on the same train. That was me……
Just a bit of history (it really does feel like historical) – this was well before yoga was mainstream. Sign of the times – you couldn’t find a yoga mat to purchase. The studio where I practiced brought some in and I bought one immediately and then a friend in Oakville asked me to buy a few for her and her friends. Yoga clothing consisted of old tank tops and basic tights – yes, definitely pre-Lulu!
I had an idea to create a yoga for runners workshop to help my running buddies see the light. I secured the space at Breathe Yoga Studio (where I still teach now), designed a class, created a poster and called all my friends. I tried to include everything I had learned about how yoga complements running – the workshop was 3 hours long. Much too long of course and thankfully I have refined my workshop design skills since then. I recall being full of self doubt, so nervous, studying my notes, pacing the floor beforehand and phoning a friend to say I shouldn’t have done this, it was going to be a flop, etc., etc. But it proceeded with positive feedback.
Many things have changed since that time but many things have not.
Things that stand out in my mind as having changed:
- Runners are more apt to know what yoga is. In the early days many assumed yoga was chanting to burning incense and gentle stretching so consequently many were quite nervous when coming to their first class.
- Runners are more open to doing yoga. Runners are drawn to the physical aspect of yoga and the presence, popularity and range of yoga options available today makes it more mainstream. And there is enough written about pro-athletes doing yoga which gives it a big seal of approval.
- Runners still think of yoga as a way to stretch. If you are using your yoga practice only to stretch you are missing out on the bigger benefits of yoga to balance muscle strength and weakness and for overall strength.
- Yoga is everywhere – your local health club, gym, condo gym, workplace and of course….yoga studios.
- Running is more accepted in the yoga world. Over the years many runners were made to feel awkward in classes because of their tightness. Many were told by yoga instructors to quit running – and I would advise these runners to find different instructors. Now long time yoga practitioners are making their way to running. WHAT – now yogis are seeing the light! One of my first yoga teachers actually had the nerve to say to me: “running is unnatural”. My response, “and wrapping your leg around your head is natural”?
- My teaching style. I have learned so much from my students and for that I am grateful. A number of students have been attending my classes for over 15 years. I am constantly bringing new challenges to my students and I have developed the skills to challenge a wide range of abilities in one class. Something for everyone!
What has not changed:
- Runners still need yoga!! While many athletes make their way to their yoga mat regularly, many still have not. Another common practice is that runners come to yoga regularly when injured and then stop when the injury subsides. Often the injury comes back and then they return to class.
- My enthusiasm for teaching runners. I love teaching all the various styles of classes to students with varied backgrounds. However, I love to teach runners the most. They love to work hard, have a good sense of humour and appreciate the teachings. Mostly it is because I understand them on both a physical and psychological level – how to challenge them physically; how to strip the competitiveness out of yoga practice and generally make it a positive experience that they want to repeat.
So here I sit 16 years later reflecting on what I have accomplished. DVDs, books, on-line education, retreats, creating a top quality teacher training program – but the one-on-one contact remains my favourite. Social media (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) has allowed me to get to know people from far away and some of these people make their way to either my training or my retreats.
I love what I do and I thank each and every one of you that has helped me on this journey.