Yoga: The Power of the Om

By Elizabeth Jenkins

The Salt Lake Running Co. employees already regularly meet on Wednesday mornings to bend, twist, pose and throw out an Om or two. Together we have found that yoga is a great way to improve flexibility, mental clarity and endurance; three things which make running, and life in general, a little easier.  Beginning Wednesday Feb 2, 2011, the class will open up to the public at no charge. Don’t be shy!

I first began practicing yoga when I was in high school. I was on a couple springboard diving teams and flexibility is one of the most important things a diver needs in order to wow the judges with some insane twist-flip-rip action. Initially, I couldn’t touch my toes to save my life. I bet before you are born, you get to pick a few of your characteristics.  When asked to choose between flexibility and a butt chin, I obviously chose wrong. However, I didn’t let my predetermined genome dash my toe-touching dreams to pieces. Instead, I joined a yoga studio once a week for their free community classes. When I walked in and saw a bunch of human pretzels on the floor I knew I had made a mistake. What if I fell over? What if I couldn’t hold a pose, or worse, what if I accidentally farted?!

The glistening, frizzy-haired shirtless instructor dude welcomed me. Dang! I couldn’t possibly leave now.  I rolled out my disney princess beach towel next to everyone else’s vegan, BPA-free, organic, made from recycled trash, orphan-saving mats and I thought to myself, “Oh yeah, I’m so going to get kicked out.”

The first practice was so fun. I told the instructor I was in love with him, errr…that I was new to yoga… and he simplified all the poses to suit my genetic inadequacies. He explained to me that I could be flexible if I put my mind to it and didn’t cheat myself by not giving my all in practice. After just a few months, I saw huge improvements, and not just in flexibility.  I still had a butt chin, but I could rest that butt chin on my knees! I had more endurance during dry-land work outs, better mental focus during meets, better self awareness when learning new dives, and increased core strength to perform dives with more power.  These benefits transfered over to other areas of my life as well. I was able to concentrate better in school, I have better balance physically and mentally, patience with my family members and an increased desire to work hard to fight for the things I wanted in my life.

Running is largely a mental sport. I often hear people say, “I could never run a (insert any distance here) race.” I’ll even admit, I have said these things before, too.  We have to remember those thoughts are from a mental block. With proper training, anyone can run any distance. It’s when we start listening to that voice telling us to give up that we lose. Yoga can help you overcome that mental block by building confidence in your abilities. Come join us for some yoga!

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