Release….or maybe NOT!

*Intended post for Wednesday, September 10th*
In yoga we practice a lot of letting go. Letting go of tension, stress, judgement, preconceived notions about ourselves and others, etc etc etc. Letting go and learning how to immediately set your body at ease are some of the goals of meditation and final relaxation in a yoga class. Sometimes we work with mantras, chants, readings, or other forms of mental cueing to allow the body to let go both physically and mentally. My yoga training has allowed me to be a less angry person in life by teaching me to exhale and let go of what was building inside of me. This allows me many times to avoid unnecessary confrontations and arguments over trivial matters.

The idea of releasing has also helped with tensions that build in my body physically. I’ve been doing a lot more running in the past ten days. A lot more than I did in August that is. And while I run, I often find little things that aren’t going so well. I may be breathing too hard or my stride may be off; I may find that there’s a twinge of discomfort in my shoulder or I’m just not mentally in the game at the moment. No matter what is going on, I’m using my mantras to help align my running pattern to produce the best results possible. Lately my right shoulder has been the one with that pesky twinge. I don’t know if I’ve been pushing the double jogger too much with my right arm or if I’m pulling it up as I run and allowing my shoulder to creep toward my ear? I remember back in my days of high school cross country often finishing an event with one arm that was numb because of the way I held it as I ran. I was pinching a nerve because my upper body was being carried too tightly.

When I feel this issue creeping in, I often say to myself….. RELEASE! I do this during difficult yoga poses, when I’m stressed and need my breath to actually leave my body, and when I feel like I’m about to grind my teeth. Teaching your body to release, no matter how you get there, is of great advantage when you’re running. If I can let go of the tension when it starts to build and let my body fall loosely into it’s natural and free movement patterns, I find that every other aspect of the training then falls into place for the day. My mind clears, my breathing eases, my strides lengthen and turn over more quickly. And then there is the one negative effect to all of this releasing…..my body doesn’t know how to let go of some muscles while holding on to others.

You know what I mean. That moment when you’re flying down hill at top speeds feeling your legs stretch out to their fullest and all of your muscles are relaxed yet working and then it hits you….

You have just released all of your muscles…even the ones that you don’t want letting go at that moment! Then you have a choice to make….do I keep going and let nature take its course?

Or do you do “The Walk”? You know the one I’m talking about right? The one where you clench your lady parts as tightly as you can and curse yourself for skipping your Kegels that week while you also attempt to take as long of strides as you can to get to the nearest facility as quickly as possible.Yeah, I always opt for the latter of the two…ALWAYS!

This has made me feel like many of my training runs are ruined because I have to walk it off or walk it home. But I need to start focusing on all of the reasons that walking during my run or at the end of a run are okay and good for me. I need to let go of that judgement of myself and my workout and accept it for what it is on those days.

Today I ran with a friend who was getting back into running. We did long intervals (~1 mile each) of walking and running. It was slower than my usual pace, but thankfully not interrupted by bathroom breaks for either of us (kids…yes, and of course it was mine). I didn’t judge my performance on the run or hers, we just did it and it was fun. Sometimes letting go is more than just the physical or the mental tension, but it’s also allowing yourself to enjoy an experience.

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