A runner’s journey with hot yoga

One of the areas of concern for runners is the “tightness” the body experiences and stretching is an important part of training. My first session was quite an experience! I realized quickly how tight I really was in my hips, my various muscle groups, especially the hamstrings and connective tissue. I found myself getting more blocks during that first session to help me modify poses so my body would have a starting point. I joked, at first, that it was like building a chair for me to sit on!

Sophia, my instructor, was so patient and continued to tell everyone in each session that you have to use your breathing to help the body relax through the discomfort so the body could progress and that we needed to be patient with ourselves and not get frustrated. I looked around the group of practitioners and realized she was saying this for the benefit of me! At first, I could not sit straight up with my legs out in front of me on the mat. My hamstrings and hips would not allow me to just sit in a comfortable sitting position. That’s a different story a year later!

I found great energy at these sessions and received encouragement every week from Sophia and the team at Healthletica. I continued to work on the relaxation through breathing as I worked on holding the poses each week. Then, at one session, it happened. I finally felt the body relax in the poses through the breathing. I then began to see progress as I removed one block and then another over the months. Finally, one session arrived and as I began to move into the shoelace pose, I thought that I felt relaxed enough through my hips that I would try to go into the pose without the last block to sit on. I slowly lowered all the way to the floor in the seated position! I saw the smile on Sophia’s face as this happened – a major breakthrough for me was my thought! I was extremely energized by the moment.

Still there were challenges with other poses remaining where my body was still too tight or not open enough to allow me to move past a certain point. That is alright as I learned through the course of the months. It is the practice that is important. Then, little wins began to happen almost weekly. I began to move into the poses further one by one. Rosie would comment after sessions about my progress and Sophia would show excitement about how far I had come and would beam with each little win!

Today, one year later, I still have tight hamstrings and hips from the running, but, I feel much more flexible in both areas as a result of Yin Wave. I now have a few poses that I look forward to each week. The following are three favorite poses of mine and why they became my favorites.

Shoelace: As I mentioned, this was the first pose that I felt and saw good progression in and had the first big win. I enjoy the benefits it gives me for stretching the connective tissues around the hips and into the thighs and hamstrings. I am still progressing in this pose and moving further into it as my body relaxes more in the pose and that continues to drive the excitement and positive energy.

Pigeon (moving into Sleeping Swan): This pose was my second big win when I was able to achieve the upright position without the use of a block under me for support of the tight areas. I enjoy this as well for the benefits and the fact that I have progressed to the point of being able to move forward into the sleeping swan. The excitement that came from the reduction of discomfort and finding a relaxed state during the pose through breathing added to my enjoyment.

Frog: I was surprised by this pose becoming one of my favorites. At first, I felt like I would never see the day when my connective tissue and hips would open up enough to allow me to bring myself down off my elbows/forearms. Then at one practice, I felt that my legs/knees were actually further apart and so I slowly lowered myself to a position where I could bring my torso down and stretch my arms out a bit in front of me. I couldn’t believe it! Then, little by little the hips opened up more and more. These were small gains but, eventually I could bring my torso down to the floor and begin to work on relaxing and moving the knees out further. Again, another win that didn’t go unnoticed by the team and there was shared excitement about the progress! I look forward to this pose each week to challenge myself further and practice more on relaxing through breathing to allow the body to move further into this pose.

I find that I have made tremendous strides in:

Calming and balancing to the mind and body

More flexibility in joints and connective tissue

Lowering stress levels

Achieving greater stamina

Recently, in a conversation with Jennifer, I realized a couple more benefits from the practice have been; quicker recovery time from strenuous running workouts, fewer injuries (with shorter recovery) and interestingly, my immune system seems more robust and I do not pick up ailments others are suffering from!

I am so thankful to my friend Sabrina, who recommended I try Hot Yoga. Thank you to Rosie, Jennifer, Julie, Sophia and the other instructors I have met at Healthletica this past year for the encouragement and high energy and positivity you provide. I would never have imagined that I would have progressed to this point or would receive so many benefits from the practice. Thanks to my fellow practitioners who share their energy with me each week!

- Ken Cox, member at Healthletica

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