Yoga for Runners

For this month’s Yoga for Everyone partnership with Monica, the talented yoga instructor and blogger behind The Yogi Movement, we get to focus on legs! As a runner, I do my best to ensure yoga is a regular part of my training. This yoga sequence is a great one to do at home as you can do the longer, entire sequence or even just one or two of the poses. I’ll turn it over to Monica for today’s guest post! See you all tomorrow for Friday Favorites!

Monica Stone

When Ashley asked me to write a post about yoga for tired legs, I was excited. Although I’m not a runner, this is something with which I am very familiar. Even though I consider my legs to be strong, they tend to run out of energy pretty quickly. I’ve recently implemented postures in my practice to stretch, strengthen, and overcome the weakness.

The first thing I want to talk about is Sun Salutations. This sequence is the best for waking up the legs. In the image, you would move from left to right on each section. Each posture is a slow and steady breath, and your goal is to match the length of the breath with the movement. Pay attention if your rushing the movement, and then slow it down. Never speed up the breath.

Sun Salutations

This full sequence strengthens the quadriceps and gives the back of the legs an awesome stretch. When you’re in downward dog, make sure you are lifting your hips, and pushing your heels back and down. This will give an amazing stretch to the back of the legs.

When you move into Warrior One (the lunges), don’t be shy about bending the knee. You don’t wan to over extend it, but most people don’t bend it enough. Take time to check it, so that you get a nice, deep hip opening.

Do about five Sun Salutations, and then move onto the standing forward bend.

standing forward fold

This posture is my favorite for overcoming tired legs. If I ever miss a day or two of practice – my legs feel like they’re crying tears of joy! In this image, I’m bringing my stomach all the way to my legs, but if you can’t pull yourself in that much, no worries. Just try to deepen it with every exhale, and bend your knees if you need to. Also, don’t look up and smile! Instead pull the crown of the head towards the ground, and look towards the knees.

The next posture we’re going to move into is Navasana or boat posture. I know this posture looks like you’re using the core, but it does take strength in the legs to make this posture happen. Come into boat, and try your best to not touch your legs, and keep the legs straight. Hold for five deep breaths. When you’re finished, cross the legs and take a breath, but come right back into it. Repeat this five times.

Navasana

We’re going to close with Kapotasana, which is a backbend that comes from the strength in your legs. You’re going to start seated, but bend both of your knees back, and let your feet rest right by your hips. You want to push the top of your foot into the ground so that the heel is facing the sky. It might seem awkward, but just do your best. If you feel any pressure on your knees, then move them further apart from each other until it goes away.

backbend

The next step is to walk yourself back until you’re lying on the ground. This is going to lengthen and stretch your quadriceps. In the image, I’m grabbing my feet, but feel free to lay your hands wherever is comfortable. Stay here for five or more breaths, and move onto the next stage.

Bring your hands my your ears and just lift your head to the ground and look behind you. Don’t let your elbows fall out to the side. This can be pretty intense, but just try. Hold for five breaths.

The very last stage is to push your head off the ground. Go ahead and give it a try, but if you can’t lift off, no problem. Just do your best, and take five breaths.

Once you are done, sit up, and extend the legs out in front of you. Take a forward bend posture for ten breaths to slow the mind and release any pressure in the spine and legs. You’re Done!

I hope you enjoyed this runners’ sequence, and can’t wait until next time!

Check out the other Yoga For Everyone guest posts in this series:

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Using Exercise to Maintain My Sanity

Moving is stressful. Saying goodbye to friends is tough. Transitioning from one job to another brings a lot of unknown and complexities. Based on these three facts, the next six weeks should be a joy.

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Luckily, these days, even thirty minutes of physical activity can help relieve stress. Gone are the days when I crave a pint of Ben & Jerry’s to eat away my stress induced anxiety after a long day.

These days, I’ve decided that my mantra for the next six weeks will be to lace up my sneakers and go.

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Today I spent 30 minutes outside letting my thoughts run wild while I ran through a local park, enjoyed the sight of the Spring flowers and completed a quick 30-minute run. I didn’t track my pace or distance.

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I stopped twice, once to complete my 5-minute strength circuit and again to say hello to a friend. This was far different from the training runs a few weeks ago. But, don’t get me wrong. It served a purpose that was equally if not more important. It helped me relieve the stress that comes along with moving two people on two very different dates, while managing a full-time job and trying to enjoy the last few weeks in Europe.

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If April training focused on the half marathon, then May and June’s training focus will be using exercise to maintain my sanity.

I’ll be living alone for June, which means I’ll have plenty of time for evening yoga classes and early morning workouts. I’ll try a few new Les Mills classes at our office gym before I say goodbye to that membership.

What are your suggestions for managing stress the next six weeks?

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We’re Coming Home…

Oh, how time flies.

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Just over two years ago, I posted big news on this blog. We were moving to Europe. I said that we were scared, nervous and unsure of what the future held but that we’d decided to hold hands and embark on the adventure together.

It feels as if we’ve been living in a parallel universe where even some of the smallest everyday things present new and confounding challenges. We’ve visited 16 countries in 24 months and have made every effort to take full advantage of this opportunity. Our group of close friends, both locals and fellow expats, have enriched the experience. Alas, all good things must come to an end.

In the next two months, Bo and I will be turning over our Swiss visas and finding a brand new address in New York City.

While we still have more than 20 cities left unvisited on our European travel list and will miss Switzerland’s natural beauty, I hear that Europe is only a quick overnight flight from New York.

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An Indian Wedding Weekend in NYC – Part 1

Well, I think it’s safe to say that this weekend’s Indian wedding festivities were beyond our wildest dreams. I wore traditional Indian attire, which I rented, to two different events, was part of a 9:30am dance party which shut down part of Park Avenue for four blocks while my dear friend rode towards the Waldorf on a white horse, and danced for hours. This wedding left many of shaking our heads as traditional Christian weddings just don’t compare to the ritual and tradition of the Indian weddings. So much took place during the wedding weekend that I am going to split it into two posts. Today’s post is going to cover the first two days while tomorrow will cover the third day and tips for attending an Indian wedding!

Indian Wedding

The event, which took place over three days, was a wonderful blend of Indian culture with New York glam. While the couple now lives in Atlanta, they spent much of their time dating in New York City and Asha completed her dermatology residence in New York last year.

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The weekend kicked off with a sunset cruise on the Hudson. Even though we lived in New York City for five years, this was my first sunset cruise! The weather cooperated, allowing gorgeous sunset views of the city and Statue of Liberty. We spent most of our time on the top deck, catching up with old friends or dancing to the awesome music. Meanwhile,  on the lower deck, there were two women applying henna to the women’s hands and palms. Part of the Indian culture, mehendi or henna is a common way to celebrate religious events and weddings.

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Friday morning, less than 12 hours after we disembarked from the ship, a small group of us arrived at the Waldorf for Raj’s Maglik Shubh Prasango. The Mangalik Shubh Prasango is a traditional religious event held the day before the wedding. The bride and groom have separate ceremonies with their friends and family members. While the language barrier made it impossible to understand everything, just watching the ritual was magical. In addition, their minister did a good job translating and explaining the major parts of the ritual.

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The ceremony, which lasts around two hours, revolves around the cleansing of the soul and multiple rituals, including one in which guests apply turmeric paste to the groom’s face. Turmeric is thought to have cleansing powers. The below picture was taken right after we each used our ring finger to apply turmeric to his face.

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After a large Indian lunch feast, the group had a five hour break before we were back at the Waldorf for the Garba & Sangeet. An Indian dance party which takes place the night before the wedding ceremony, this evening was so much fun! It included professional dancers who performed impressive routines before leading the group in more than an hour of traditional Indian dancing, known as Dandiya.

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Dandiya is performed in a circle, with both genders participating, as they dance and use sticks, similar to drumsticks, as props.  The dancers as well as the Indians in attendance were patient with those of us who were new to the dance, helping us learn and enjoy by the end of the evening. For this event it was suggested that guests could wear Indian Garba attire, known as gharga, or comfortable loose skirts. The bride and groom served signature cocktails to keep the dancers hydrated and refreshed – tamarind margarita (my favorite) and watermelon mojito.

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Aren’t Raj and Asha’s gorgeous in their pink and gold attire? So elegant and vibrant!

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The Waldorf Astoria lobby entrance and ballrooms were completely transformed with flowers, lighting, draping and props! It amazes me that just four hours before this scene was plain off-white walls and a marble floor. Gorgeous!

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I can’t take credit for all of these pictures as some of them come from the wedding hashtag’s instagram feed #rashanyc2015.

Have you been to an Indian wedding before?

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