Review: yoga for runners

Last week Christine Felstead wrote a guest blog on her yoga for runners classes. I’ve now had a chance to attend several of these classes and figured it’s time that I post about them.

I’ve been practicing yoga for about two years. Initially, I was practicing at a wonderful studio in Cabbagetown (The Union Yoga Centre), and then at Jivamukti Toronto (previously at Shuter and Yonge street – the studio is currently relocating). Generally, I enjoy practicing yoga with a heavy serving of philosophy and spirituality. It’s never been about the calisthenics of asana (the poses) for me. Yoga has been a place to decompress, to open, and to find moments of stillness within the movements — space. I don’t mean to get too deep with this, but rather to illustrate the yoga I was accustomed to, and that I’ve generally shied away from what is commonly referred to as “gym”-style yoga.

So I must admit that when I first heard of yoga for runners (despite it being held at a highly regarded yoga studio), I was skeptical of what these classes would be like. I’ve definitely been pleasantly surprised.

While there is no meditation or philosophical references during these classes (and I’m sure that this is much to the relief of its target audience), these classes are chalked full of great things for runners.

From the few classes I’ve attended, there is a clear emphasis on not only leading the yogi runners through the poses, but also in educating them about what is happening in their bodies. There seems to be an unfortunate stereotype that yoga is simply a stretching activity, which disregards the immense capacity for strength building within the practice. Christine takes painstaking care to balance these two components of the practice, while explaining to students what muscles, bones and tendons are at work. There is also a strong focus throughout the class on how each particular pose will translate into a benefit for students as runners.

Beyond her technical and practical knowledge of yoga, Christine’s first hand experience as a runner of 20 years gives a feeling of familiarity and accessibility to the classes. From my own experience at yoga for runners, there has been a mix of people who are new to yoga and those who’ve had some experience. Both were able to work through the sequences with variations being provided to allow individuals to work from where they are.

These classes have come at a great time for me in my training. As I work through this minor blip in the road to my first marathon, these classes will provide an excellent opportunity to remember to slow down (yes, even the fartlek runner), breath and stay mindful in my running.

Specifically designed to meet the needs of the running community, these non-intimidating classes are a true gift.

For more information on yoga for runners or Christine’s yoga for runners dvd, visit her website.

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3 responses to “Review: yoga for runners

  1. I also did yoga for about 3 years and do miss is now, as a lot of my flexibility was lost in recent years. Amazing how running, while being a fabulous sport, can do SO MUCH damage onto our bodies if we don’t maintain it well. Yoga should be an integral part of a runner’s regime as yes, it’s not only stretching, it’s also strength work. I took one of Christine’s workshop on hip openers last fall. It was great and challenging as the same time. And I recommend it to anyone.

  2. I just did my first DVD yoga session after noticing some serious tightness in my hamstrings yesterday. It felt great to stretch! I’m no convert but, if this works, I might become one!

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