I did the full primary series today — that felt awesome as always. Since that took over an hour, and I had several things to finish today, that was going to be my sole activity.
But I thought, well, I’ll at least take the dogs out. It was a nice day, and I usually like some type of outdoor break around lunch when I’m working at home.
When we got to the trail, I thought, well, I’ll take them on a slow jog — it’ll be good for them! I hadn’t run for a few days so it would be good for me, too. I figured we’d go 20 minutes, and my Apple Watch will count 20 minutes which is good, since earlier in the day I had planned for zero minutes.
But I do like to close that exercise ring, so after I took the dogs out I thought about doing another 10 minutes of jogging on my own. Actually, I’ve been trying to get 40-45 minutes of exercise at a time this summer. So I thought, well, I’ll hop on my bike and go 20 minutes.
So I put on my bike shorts and headed out. When I got out 10 minutes, I thought I could turn around, but also, I could keep going and just do this 7-mile loop I had been doing all summer as a little time trial. The wind would be at my back going toward home, so that was a plus.
A day that started out with a plan to exercise for zero minutes ended up as a 51-minute day. Perhaps this makes up for all the days where I plan to exercise and end up doing nothing…
If you obsessively track anything related to your fitness, raise your hand!
I’ve tracked my running miles over the years, but most consistently since 2016. No real reason — I guess to simply see how the miles add up. I like to compare month to month, and year to year.
So this year, well really at the end of last year, I decided upon a little experiment: I was going to run less and focus more on my yoga practice.
The dedicated yogis I got to know in the past few years, specifically the dedicated Ashtangis, seemed to do quite well doing only yoga. Because I was averaging about 80 miles a month, I was experiencing tight hamstrings and tight hips, which made it a challenge to achieve certain asanas.
But I’ve been a runner since about 1995, and I had grown accustomed to view running as my primary workout and the “only” way to stay in shape. In the past 8 years I also added cycling and swimming to the mix as I incorporated triathlons into my schedule.
I really do enjoy running. So far I have not experienced anything that delivers such a “quick hit” of endorphins. I can go for a 30-minute run and feel energized and “high.” The dopamine effect is real. After a bad day, a run is a beautiful antidote.
In 2018, I committed to a marathon. I had done five marathons previously and felt done with that, lol. But I was asked to do a charity run for a nonprofit, and I couldn’t say no. Running for something beyond myself gave me extra motivation. But I told myself in 2018 that after the marathon, I’d be done.
I vowed to still work out. My goal was 30 minutes a day for most days, but that consisted of primarily the elliptical and “HIITmill” at the gym. I did very little running throughout the winter. And I added an Ashtanga practice most mornings (though a truncated practice–at least it was something).
Now that we’re halfway done with the year, I decided to check on my running stats.
Holy crap, my running mileage is down 70 percent from last year!
The thing I was most nervous about — gaining weight — did not happen. In fact, I’m down one pound over this time last year. I always thought I needed a heart-pumping cardio workout like running to maintain my weight. But lo and behold, this yoga thing seems to be working!!!!
Now yes, I’m still running, but it’s about twice a week. I also am biking more than I did last summer, but anywhere between 7-15 miles at a time, 2-3 times a week. I’ve gone swimming once so far this year, lol.
I do notice a decline in my cardio capacity. My heart rate seems to go higher more quickly than it did when I was running a lot. So I can tell that my heart muscle probably isn’t in as good of shape as it used to be.
I do like a good cardio workout once in a while. I like to get my sweat on. But this experiment tells me that perhaps some day I will transition almost completely to yoga as the way to stay in shape.
But it’s a humbling experience. We may have plans for our bodies, but our bodies often have different plans.
I was doing well, gaining strength and mobility in my Ashtanga practice. I had been working on jump backs and jump throughs, trying to build strength in my arms to lift my off the mat so my legs could shoot back. I also had been working on stage 1 of handstand that I learned in my Bheemashakti training.
That is from a tiny, tiny mole removal, lol! The doctor needed to go long in order to seam it up, since she had to take out a circle of skin and you can’t really stitch up a circle.
Doctor’s orders were no exercise for a week, no lifting over 10 pounds, and certainly no yoga.
After a couple of days I practiced asanas that didn’t require weight on my arms or arm extensions. But even in trikonasana I could feel the skin of my arm stretch, so I didn’t want to do much of that.
Later in the week I did some modifications. One week after the excision, I was back to a fairly normal Ashtanga practice, though with knees down during chaturanga. I also was back to practicing jump backs and jump throughs, so I was glad to only have a week off from that.
My goal asana for this summer, bhujapidasana, is going to have to wait a while longer! My arm is not going to like my leg resting on it!
And starting next week I’ll be doing a Mysore practice once a week at OneYoga in Minneapolis, so I anticipate being a little weaker for that than I had hoped.
At times we need to take a step back and rest. Our bodies are good at telling us when to do that. Are we so good at listening, though?
If you are a woman, when you last went out with girlfriends, did you talk about your weight? Your bodies? Your diets?
Do men get together and criticize their physical appearance?
It’s time to start loving ourselves. Your body is amazing. Look at everything it allows you to do each day. Your body isn’t the reason why people love you. People love your intellect, your humor, your compassion.
For years, my morning ritual involved nothing more than making coffee and jumping right into my day. This was when I had an 8-to-5 telecommuting job. I preferred to start the work day early and take a longer break mid-day, so I often was logged onto my computer around 6:30 a.m. I guess it worked because I didn’t know any better.
After I left that job for a faculty job in higher education, I had a more flexible work schedule. I still enjoyed getting up early and making coffee, but instead of working I’d write. That felt like a better morning ritual. I enjoyed creating in the stillness of a quiet house.
I’ve learned a lot about morning practice and its importance over the past year. For me, a morning practice has set a tone for each day and has made the busy and chaotic days so much easier to handle.
If you’re thinking of starting a morning practice, I have some ideas for you — some of these things I do. Others I don’t incorporate but they make sense for the morning. If you already have a morning practice, perhaps you can share ideas of what works for you. I have about 10 ideas, but I will blog just one at a time.
To start, I thought I’d begin with the very first thing I do in the morning: I wash away the night.
I don’t know about you, but generally my first stop upon waking is the bathroom. While you’re there, spend some time at the sink clearing away the grit and toxins that have accumulated while you’ve slept. This can be quick, or take as long as you’d like. Some things you can do:
scrape your tongue
brush your teeth
wash your face
blow your nose
take a shower
Do one or more of these things before you do anything else. I’m often thirsty upon waking, but I don’t drink any water until after I’ve scraped my tongue and brushed my teeth. I don’t want to ingest that gross stuff on my tongue!
I’ve been consistent in this morning routine since the first of the year, five full months now (I wait until later in the day to shower, but I do everything else listed–it takes only a couple of minutes). For the first time in a long time, I didn’t get sick all winter — no cold, no flu, no sniffles or sore throat. Coincidence?
What’s the very first thing you do in the morning?
I’m a little more than three months into my experiment of not running regularly. After the marathon in October, I wanted some time away from a strict running schedule.
This is a first for me.
Even when I wasn’t training for a running event, my mindset always was, I should really get out there and run. I saw running as the most efficient workout — even 15 or 20 minutes was enough to get my heart pumping, clear my head and receive a boost in metabolism.
My goal post-marathon was to get away from running but move at least 30 minutes most days of the week. This has included a treadmill or outdoor run, as well as equipment at the gym — the elliptical, the HIITmill, and the stationary bike. If I’m at the gym I also add 10-15 minutes of strength/core work with weights and machines.
I’m enjoying the variety and not being tied to running. As a result, I’m working out more frequently. I usually can fit in 30 minutes five or six days a week. When I was training, I generally only ran four days a week. I feel like 30 minutes a day is pretty low-commitment. When I’m training for a run, I can only get in three miles in 30 minutes so my workouts usually had to be much longer than that, which became a stress when trying to find the time amid everything else.
On top of this, I have my near-daily yoga practice. So with the combination of everything, I’m feeling strong and healthy. The experiment is going well so far!
Have you changed up your routine? Is there something you thought you’d always have to do and were reluctant to give it up?