A Practice for New Parents

A Practice for New Parents

By: Kim Catley

There’s a Zen proverb that tells us to let go or be dragged.

Parenthood is one of the great lessons in proving that statement. At a time when your life changes overnight, it’s hard to let go of the comfort and routine you found in your practice.

While juggling kids and groceries and work, I sat down with PYR ambassador Izzy Shurte to talk about how our practices have changed since bring babies on board.

Be patient.

First of all, moms, your body is probably going to need time before it’s ready to flow. You spent months growing a human, you went through labor, you’re struggling with crazy sleep and wake schedules. Don’t expect to hop back on your mat and dive into a power flow (but that’s awesome if you do!).

Izzy had diastasis recti, a separation of the abdominal muscles, and had to avoid core work for a year after giving birth. The demands of breastfeeding also left her craving a slower flow. So she traded her typical sweaty, aggressive practice for whatever aligned with her body that day.

“Just roll out your mat and don’t have any expectations,” she says. “Do what feels good. Maybe it’s holding a lunge for 10 minutes. Maybe it’s starting slow and then leaning in a bit. Whatever happens is fine. Don’t make it stressful; make it organic.”

 

Be creative.

The schedule of a new parent doesn’t always align with a studio schedule. You might not be ready for practice until 9:30 p.m., after dinner is made, dishes put away, and kids are bathed and in bed. Or you’ll try to squeeze in a home flow during naptime, only for your baby to wake up after just 15 minutes.

Having a home practice gives you flexibility to squeeze in a quick session when you find a small pocket of time, even if it means getting up a little early before your house comes to life. Have 10 minutes? Find mountain pose, connect with your breath, go through a few sun salutations, and pause in a brief savasana. Even that small practice can help you feel grounded.

I love getting lost in someone else’s sequences, so I’ll pull up an online class. I can find a length that fits my schedule, and choose a focus area or style that matches what I need.

I also remind myself that yoga is much more than poses, and I can find other ways to incorporate the practice in my daily life. For instance, every night, I sit with my son until he falls asleep in my arms. I hold him close and deepen my breathing, gradually feeling him do the same. He relaxes, letting go of his fidgets and squirms. I take the time to really be with him, undistracted, and notice the subtle changes that are happening every day. It’s my new daily meditation.

Be with your baby.

Don’t have someone to leave your baby with while you head to the studio? Bring her along!

Several Richmond studios offer mom and baby yoga classes, including one at Project Yoga Richmond. It’s hosted by Nurture RVA, a local pre- and post-natal resource, so check their website for a schedule and details.

Nurture’s Baby and Me Yoga class is shaped by the babies in attendance. If everyone is awake and active, you’ll move and sing and play with your baby. If they’re having a snoozy day, you might sneak in a little flow. Bonus: you’ll get to connect with other parents and postnatal experts who can help you navigate the challenges of early parenthood (I learned how bouncing on an exercise ball calmed and soothed a crying infant when nothing else seemed to work).

When the weather turns warm, you also might be able to take advantage of some open-air classes, like Project Yoga Richmond’s Saturday Salutations at the VMFA. I showed up a few times with baby in tow and set up in the grass where he had room to wiggle, and I could quietly sneak out if things took a turn.

This can also apply at home. At first, Izzy wanted to get back to her serious and regimented practice. “I thought I had to have 90 minutes alone in a closed room while my husband watched her.” Now she’s learned that having her daughter nearby — sometimes watching Elmo, sometimes climbing all over her — has made her practice more playful. “It’s our joint self-care routine.”

Be with others.

Wherever your practice takes you, try to find your tribe.

Maybe that’s chatting up the mom sitting next to you in Baby and Me Yoga. Or maybe you meet a friend for class and grab dinner after. Just like you need to find balance in your practice, you need to find balance in life — and sometimes that means a little time on your own.

 

Thank you to all the amazing people who support our efforts to make yoga accessible to all, regardless of age, income, or financial ability! Visit us 7 days a week and pay-what-you-can at our studio and/or give online to make magic moments like this possible for everyone in your community through our yoga and mindfulness outreach programs!

Why should I Meditate?

Often, it can be intimidating to start a meditation practice. We might fear that we cannot do it “correctly”, that we are unable, or the thought of simply sitting with ourselves can be too much. But meditation takes many shapes and forms. One of our lovely meditation teacher’s, JaVonne Bowles is here to help you break down those barriers and fears. Read what JaVonne has to say about getting passed the initial hurdles of meditation and the ways your life may change.

When and why did you start meditating?

My first form of meditation was through journaling, but on January 1, 2016, after volunteering for the first time at PYR and being cued into a Gratitude Meditation, I was invited to check-in the weekly Mindful Meditation Sessions. The yogis that lead these sessions were indispensable.

They made it extremely easy for me when seated meditation was the topic of discussion in my Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) around March 2016. Originally it was a requirement that I kind of dreaded of my YTT, however meditating quickly turned into a “why not” instead of a “why” (if that makes sense). I will have been practicing meditation for 3 years in June :)

What changes have you noticed in your life since practicing meditation?

Journaling took place out of a need to express myself, I’ve always had ideas and thoughts that seemed close, yet still out of reach. Once I began to clear my mental path of where I wanted to go and how I wanted to get there life seemed limitless. Even when I forget that I am capable of accessing this ready-to-go tool, I become slightly frantic and even a little anxious. Meditating constantly reminds me that I am not my thoughts, nor just a physical being – stepping out of the cycle of life truly grounds me. When I think (after a meditation session) or speak from a mindful place, it is not as rough as it used to be. People have told me that I speak with clarity and I owe this to my meditation practice.

What tips do you have for someone looking to start a meditation practice?

There is never a wrong way. We are sometimes conditioned to think that if you are not seated or breathing properly then it is not meditation, I implore you to find what you already enjoy doing and simply change your perspective. For example, if you are a cook and over the years cooking has become second nature, it takes almost nothing of you to prepare a fine meal. Stop and (using the words I’ve recently read in Holly Z’s blog post) “become a novice”. Allow yourself to really think about what it is that you are doing and why. Why choose those spices over the other, why the method you choose, say sauteing, instead of steaming? Enjoy the flow of your breath as you continue to do your regular task. Begin there then practice patience with yourself as you move into the more subtle ways of meditating, for example, a seated practice. Keep a journal and invite random chatter as you place pen onto paper, let the rougher edges of your thoughts, the ones that appear to always be there, to come out.

Why do you enjoy teaching meditation?

I enjoy creating safer spaces. I believe that I have a general understanding of what pressure feels like and the desire to be perfect in every aspect. When I lead meditation, the level of pressure and perfection is placed in your hands – accessible if you wish to delve into it yet first accepting and loving where you currently are.

Have you noticed any changes in your students? If so, what?

When I first started leading, I would always hold space (as my teachers had done for me) for any questions, comments or concerns. Usually it was I that occupied that space alone. The students seemed timid to share and not necessarily content. As I’ve continued to deepen my personal practice, conversations that take place both before and after are full of life and the wonders it has. Perspective has changed.

Join Javonne Bowles and Jena Morrison for meditation weekly at our pay-what-you-can studio! We offer weekly meditation on Wednesdays with Jena at 6pm and Fridays with JaVonne at 11am! Visit our class schedule for more info!

Top 19 Reasons People Give to Project Yoga Richmond

Top 19 Reasons People Give to Project Yoga Richmond

  1. Because the ability of yoga to unite and heal is what we need most today, and always. Thanks for all that you guys do.
2. Practicing yoga makes people feel better and in turn lifts the whole community.
3. PYR changed my life. Yoga changed my life. I am now shining my light. The ripple effect is beautiful. #bethemovement
5. In honor of Arlene Bjork, who introduced me to yoga and for Dana Walters’ vision for changing a community through service
6. Because yoga has the power to heal both self and the community in which we live.
7. Taking care of yourself takes care of others!
8. PYR provides our community a source of support, connection, and empowerment!
9. Project Yoga supports the kids at our center (The Founders Center at West Grace) by doing yoga with them and donating their time, and we appreciate it very much!
10. I think all people should be able to enjoy the benefits of yoga, regardless of age, physical ability, or financial situation. Thank you for making yoga accessible to all!
11. Mindfulness is nothing less than the salvation of the planet.
12. Yoga has made a big difference in my life.
13. I see the positive affect that it has
14. Because yoga=love
15. J Miles introduced me to the cause when I lived in VA, you all do amazing work!!
16. I believe it’s essential to self-care and should be accessible for all.
17. Because I’ve experienced yoga’s power to heal at the individual and community level
18. My wife is an ambassador at PYR . Her stories of taking yoga into the community are very uplifting.
19. Project Yoga has given me and my community more than I could ever gain from any other yoga studio. PYR is the only pay what you can studio in town and all proceeds go towards making my city a better place to live. Every time I go to PYR I feel like I always get back more than I give. I cannot say enough about how important I believe yoga and PYR is to myself and my community. I do not want to imagine what our lives would be like without it and I hope I never have to.

You and the reasons you give inspire us. Our first ever annual fundraising campaign has been a great success and we are so close to reaching our goal to ensure that yoga will remain accessible to all for years to come through PYR.

If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to make a donation to Project Yoga Richmond today. All donations are tax deductible, so make your gift before the start of 2017!

Serving With Grace: In Honor of Arlene

Serving With Grace: In Honor of Arlene

“In honor of Arlene” are the words that many supporters wrote alongside their donations to PYR this season. Many of you may know who Arlene is and her history behind Project Yoga Richmond, however, many may not. This post by PYR Ambassador Kim Catley highlights Arlene Bjork, the woman who inspired so many, and brought PYR’s co-founders together with the desire to give the gifts of yoga to everyone.

Written by: Kim Catley

Photography by: Becky Eschenroeder

In the last six years, thousands of you have opened Project Yoga Richmond’s door, walked down the hall, and settled onto a mat in the main studio. On your way in, you might have noticed a small, framed photo on the altar, showing a tall, slender woman in a white tank top and pants, back arched in urdhva dhanurasana.

The woman in the photo, Arlene Bjork, was a yoga teacher in Richmond. In the late 2000s, she approached several of her private and studio students, hoping to drum up interest in her new teacher training program.

Arlene pushed her students. Every class began with 30 minutes of vinyasa. She insisted that good teachers have to be practitioners.

She taught them to be prepared for anything their students might need. Pam Cline, one of her students, remembers a cueing lesson where everyone was blindfolded. They had to guide the class from asana to asana without the help of demonstrating a pose. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the first time Pam taught at a local gym, in walked a woman, holding the hand of her blind husband.

Arlene also taught them that everyone has a responsibility to give back. Before graduating from the training program, every student had to teach 50 hours without pay.

“Her biggest thing was yoga is not about the poses; yoga is a lifestyle,” says Pam Cline, one of Arlene’s students. “It’s the way you treat people and animals and your body. She taught us all of that.”

When she opened Grace Yoga, a studio in downtown Richmond, she saw it as a place where anyone could teach in service to the community, and where they could bring yoga to those who needed it.

“We had a lot of people that walked into Grace Yoga who barely had clean clothes, let alone a mat or yoga pants,” Pam says. “She said, there’s a need and there’s a community out there that would benefit from it, but it’s expensive.”

In October 2009, Arlene passed away suddenly. In the wake of her death, her family of students felt lost without their leader at the helm. “We didn’t know what to do, or where to go,” Pam says.

Then one day an idea started to take shape. It wasn’t another yoga studio, exactly; there were already plenty in Richmond. It was a place for community, with yoga at its core.

The early days weren’t easy. But gradually, a movement started to take root, and people started to come. In a nondescript building, tucked just out of sight from a busy stretch of Broad Street, a new energy was born.

“Arlene said to all of us, ‘you were born to serve and when you’re giving, you’ll be in the best place you can possibly be,’” Pam says. “She showed the community what a real yoga teacher could be, and what a really good person can be.”

Though she is no longer physically with us, Arlene continues to inspire our community. Her teachings planted powerful seeds in her students, which have grown into Project Yoga Richmond. We work hard to carry Arlene’s dedication to giving each and every day through our pay-what-you-can studio and yoga and mindfulness outreach programs in the community, making yoga accessible to all. For those who have given in honor of Arlene, we thank you and will continue to work hard to honor Arlene through PYR.

 

6 Years at Project Yoga Richmond!

6 Years at Project Yoga Richmond!

Written by PYR Ambassador Kim Catley

Six years ago.

That’s when a Facebook post brought together a group of people who believed in the power of yoga, and Project Yoga Richmond was born.

Anniversaries give us a chance to reflect, on simple moments and major milestones, on big wins and tough decisions. Today, some of the people who were here from the very beginning look back on PYR’s history and remind us just how far we’ve come.

“Those words became real”

I remember J throwing this idea at me, one of his, “hey sis, I was thinking …” moments.

It was a wonderful idea that grew from Arlene’s desire to take yoga to the people in their communities and make it accessible to everyone who wanted it. We chatted about it. I moved on with my day.

Then J put his idea into words and posted on Facebook.

Those words became real. So many people within the yoga and movement communities all started chiming in: “Great idea! We need this! Who’s in?!”

Those words drew Dana in. She had a love for yoga, a love for people, a love for community. She wanted to build a community centered around yoga — not just a studio, but a true space for healing — and she had a building!

Then Michelle came on board and we had a website.

Then Pam joined in to assist with building matters.

With Michelle came her husband Zane, who got all of our thoughts and ideas on a bunch of sticky notes on their dining room wall to determine our mission, and from there, PYR was born.

—Wendy Warren, co-founder

“A headquarters for community action through yoga”

I remember the first time Dana brought me to 6517 Dickens Place. We walked into a time machine — the space was right out of the disco era — and asked me what I thought. I said, “This needs to be our headquarters.”

And then she set about transforming this retro, disco, man cave into the PYR we all know and love.

It will always and forever be my yoga home, a headquarters for community action through yoga.

—J Miles, co-founder

“You could not deny the energy and love in the room”

Our first year was a miracle in action. I saw an organization created from nothing become a breathing living thing, a body of hope. I believe the universe conspired with all its power to bring the idea, the people, the teachers, and the place together at one time, with a synchronicity that cannot be explained.

Yogis are very strong, positive, and passionate people, but to make this work we needed to believe that there was a need for yoga in our community. We needed to believe that it could heal people and give them something to count on, regardless of their ability to pay for it. When that first anniversary came, we realized that not only were we right to do this, but that success was on its way.

People poured into our anniversary class that night. Arm to arm, mat to mat, you could barely see the floor and you could not deny the energy and love in the room. We practiced together, sipped tea, listened to music, and heard from many that were grateful to be there and part of this movement.

I knew that day, without any doubt, that PYR was going to be a special gift to Richmond. With every outreach program and with every class taught, it continues to grow and blossom into a place of servant leaders who believe in giving more than they take. I am honored to be a witness to this and grateful for this time in my life.

—Pam Cline, co-founder

“We were sitting on the top of a rising tide”

It was a bright, sunny, breezy spring morning in 2011 in Richmond, and PYR was hosting its first-ever outdoor class at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. The Belvedere Deck had just opened to the public not long before, and the VMFA was eager to invite Richmonders up to enjoy the space.

Jonathan Miles and I co-taught the class, which surprisingly at the time, brought out about 60 people. We had no volunteers, no mic, nothing but us and the class. I think that was the first time I knew, at a deeply felt level, that we were sitting on the top of a rising tide — a giant swell of energy around what we were trying to do, even in those very early days.

Our work has deepened and yet become easier, somehow, as we have grown in our supporters and students, and over the years we have begun to make great impact in our community. Starting with only two studio classes and one outreach program, we now have 19 regular pay-what-you-can studio classes, numerous monthly and bi-monthly events, and nearly two dozen weekly recurring and seasonal outreach programs happening throughout the year. And we offer between 1,200 and 1,600 monthly experiences of yoga to underserved individuals and groups in our community.

I feel we are still riding high on that tide. It’s been an amazing thing to be a part of, and I’m just so grateful to each and every one of our PYR family: ambassadors, staff, volunteers, board members, donors, and students.

—Dana Walters, co-founder

“I remember feeling this swell of support”

Heading into the final stretch of our very first Amazing Raise 36-hour YogaThon, back in September 2013, I remember going in to co-teach the last class knowing we were in the running to not only reach, but exceed our goal of $20,000.

I couldn’t believe it. We had set our inaugural goal high, and here we were, about to crush it. Our class was set to end after the close of the giving window, so we would not know the total until we had finished.

As the class proceeded, I tried to temper my excitement with steadiness — a skill we learn in yoga — staying focused as best I could on the task at hand. I remember feeling this swell of support around me, this great energy and love for the community we had created together and what our success would mean we’d be able to do in the future.

As I finished leading my portion of the class, and stood aside to assist J, who was teaching the second part, Natalie slipped in with a note that had our final total on it.

We had done it.

I was overcome with emotion and stood there weeping with joy. I don’t know if the class had any idea what was going on until we finished! It was a major turning point for PYR, and your ongoing support since that time continues to ensure our ability to serve our community with yoga and mindfulness practices for a very long time.

—Dana Walters, co-founder

“We were striving for organizational balance”

One pivotal hour remains with me always because it signaled that a season of growth and change was at our doorstep. It took place not on a yoga mat, but around the table in the company of my fellow board members. We were bathed in golden October sunshine at a board retreat about three years ago — a time when we were still an all-volunteer organization. We were celebrating because we had just completed our first successful Amazing Raise, which brought PYR space to spread our programmatic wings in the next year, and we were dreaming of the new partnerships and classes that we could offer.

But we were also grappling with the great organizational challenges that growth brings. Administrative tasks now needed to be completed steadily, frequently, and consistently. Inquiries from potential new partners were streaming in daily. Donations needed to be logged and acknowledged. The studio, with its expanded traffic, needed reliable monitoring. Our devoted and enthusiastic ambassadors deserved more frequent updates.

Volunteers could no longer complete these tasks within a few generous hours per week, and we all felt that a paid, part-time staff member was necessary. We crunched budget numbers. We asked ourselves hard questions. Can we take on the responsibility of someone’s livelihood? Or, more basically, what W-2 paperwork is required and do we have the right financial structure in place to build a payroll? We were electrified as we weighed risk against potential reward, knowing that our decisions would deeply affect PYR’s organizational health.

Today, PYR sustains three staff members and nourishes an even larger population than it did that day four years ago. When I view this moment with the gift of hindsight, I see now that we were seeking what we seek daily on our mats: Sattva. We were striving for organizational balance and it required us to stretch a teensy bit in one direction to evenly redistribute the frenetic energy of our passion and mission against the weight of our responsibilities. The leaders of PYR do this every day, year after year, as they transform the organization into a stronger, more accessible, and more impactful resource in Richmond.

—Jillian Jones, former board chair

Project Yoga Richmond has thrived over the last six years as a tribute to our community and the support you all provide. From our founders and donors to our volunteers, you are the reason so many people in our community are able to experience the benefits of yoga. Up until this point, our primary fundraiser was the AmazingRaise. We have grown as an organization and the AmazingRaise is no longer there, so we are shifting our fundraising efforts to GivingTuesday on November 29th and our 6th birthday celebrations!

Join us for a series of Birthday classes:
1. Yoga and Gong Bath Meditation: Monday, November 28, 5:30pm at Diversity Richmond
2. GivingTuesday Yoga Celebration: Tuesday, November 29, 8am at Project Yoga Richmond
3. Birthday Yoga and Gratitude: Wednesday, November 30, 7am at Robinson Theater

Birthday Bash: Saturday, December 3, 7pm at Project Yoga Richmond

Celebrate with us on November 29th for GivingTuesday:

  1. Donate any amount to PYR on our website
  2. Like our Facebook page post why you support PYR and how yoga improves your life and tag us to be entered into a drawing for a ticket to our birthday party on December 3rd!
  3. Join us at the studio for special classes, juice from Ginger Juice, and more!
    • 8am Birthday Yoga with Jonathan “J” Miles
    • 12:15 Mindful Meditation with Javonne Bowles
    • 5:30pm Live Your Yoga with Sue Agee
    • 5:30 pm Y12SR (Yoga of 12 Step Recovery) with Billie Carroll
    • 7pm Vin/Yin with Alec Abbott
Running Secret to Success: Yoga!

Running Secret to Success: Yoga!

Interview with Runner’s Love Yoga founder, Ann Mazur

Here at Project Yoga Richmond, we believe that taking care of yourself, takes care of your community. This fall, we are thrilled to be partnering with SportBackers for the Richmond Marathon on November 12th as we celebrate our 6th Birthday! As you cross the finish line, we’ll be offering 15 min cool down sessions on Brown’s Island throughout the day to help runners recover! While you take care of your body and cool down properly through slow movement during these sessions, you become and important part of our movement to increase access to yoga in our community!

To show just how powerful your practice can be and the powerful benefits that incorporating yoga into your running routine can have on your body and mind, we interviewed running and yoga expert, Ann Mazur! Ann was a walk on to Notre Dame’s running team and one of their fastest runners by the time she graduated. Ann began practicing yoga in 2005 and received her 200hr RYT in 2009. Since then, Ann has gotten even faster, beating her college PR’s.

Ann has experienced the power of yoga and the benefits of running. She believes in it so much that she started her own company, Runners Love Yoga, to support runners and yogis and help them bring balance to their practices. Ann is also an official blogger of the Richmond Half Marathon this year, and we could not be happier to have a chance to soak in her insight and knowledge to help you recover on race day!

What similarities do you see between running and yoga?

Both running and yoga require a great deal of mental strength. Yoga probably feels mentally challenging in a different way to beginning yogis–it can be difficult to lie still in savasana, for example, or really let your mind relax, but with practice, this becomes much easier. Yoga is actually quite similar to running in how it is both physically and mentally challenging; I think people tend to underestimate how vigorous yoga can be as a physical activity, but probably also underestimate how much of running is actually very mental. In both, you can really find yourself in a sort of effortless “zone”–whether you are running a race and just keep knocking your miles off at the right pace, or are practicing a flow of poses and just seeing where it takes you.

What differences do you see between the two?

Yoga is a little different in that you have to be okay with where you are. There are always going to be poses you can’t do or that aren’t maybe particularly comfortable for your body. Yoga teaches you patience; you quickly learn to be okay with where you are right at that particular moment. This doesn’t mean that you don’t want to grow, but that you know if you practice, you’ll get there when it’s meant to happen. With running, though, you tend to want to be as fast as possible, as quickly as possible–I think this is also probably why runners (especially those who don’t stretch) generally are prone to a lot of overuse injuries. Yoga teaches you that, as a runner, it’s totally okay to allow yourself time to recover, and that’s actually how you improve. Yoga really just makes you nicer to yourself!

A lot of runners come to yoga thinking it will only help their flexibility, but the mental side is just as important. In running, the emphasis is on pushing yourself, while yoga is all about doing what is right for you right then. I think a balance of both–pushing yourself but also listening to your body is where you want to end up. Yoga has probably helped me be more chill overall in a way that has definitely helped with running. There is no perfect race day scenario, or training, or nutrition plan, or way to hydrate, so just do the best you can and otherwise relax, because that last “relax” part will get you further than perfection would have anyways.

Both running and yoga appear to be “individual” practices, yet both have a strong community component and impact. How and why do you believe this emerges?

I think that for a lot of people who are currently runners, their high school or college cross country and track teams were one of the very first teams that they were on. I know my college team at Notre Dame was so, so important to me; this was really a second family. So, I think a lot of lifelong runners come to the sport of running through those teams that they were on when they were younger, and camaraderie is just such a natural part of running, period. There’s just no way to go through a grueling 10 mile practice, let alone four years’ worth of grueling practices, without forming some tremendous bonds with the other people working out with you. Even though I’m not on a formal team now, every weekend I race I find a sense of community–you tend to see the same people at races, but you also end up bonding with people who end up running near you, something which is especially true for the longer races like the marathon.

Yoga feels like a community especially in the regulars in my classes. In addition to teaching English, I also teach yoga at UVa, and I’ve seen some yoga students go through all four years of college while coming to my yoga classes! I love getting to see these same people week after week. Social media actually really adds to my sense of yoga as a community–Instagram is actually a huge yoga community, and teachers share advice and tips, and everyone cheers on everyone else’s individual practices and breakthroughs. I think Instagram sometimes gets a bad rap, but that’s only if you’re approaching it with a negative mindset! There’s so much inspiration and joy shared in ways that we otherwise could not.

What advice do you have for someone who practices yoga to start running?
    1. Don’t increase mileage by more than 10% a week.
    2. Find ways to make running work with your yoga. When I can, I run to and from teaching yoga since this makes my whole workout more efficient. Of course, this might not work for everyone, depending upon where you live, but the whole idea of stacking your workouts in a row has been very helpful for me time-wise.
    3. Have some sort of variety to your daily schedule. Don’t do the same thing at the same intensity every day. Have harder days, recovery days, and something in between. Vary both intensity and duration. Experiment until you find the right mix of whatever works for you. I literally draw a 7 day chart and extend it week by week so I get a clear “at a glance” map of my training, and can see further in advance when I might need to have one type of day or another, or can plan my training week in a way that makes sense with the rest of my life.
What is one primary lesson you have learned from running?

Honestly, with running, persistence. There have been so many times where I could have very easily given up on running, and just stopped–there are almost too many to list here. Anyone who knew me in grade school would not have believed I would end up even running for Notre Dame or that I would still be running now. I was literally picked last in gym class for the entirely of grade school, and made fun of relentlessly for being slow, and neither of my parents thought I had any aptitude for sports whatsoever. But, I always wanted to be a fast runner. At Notre Dame, I was a walk-on–by the time it was all said and done, I was the last walk-on from my entering class who was left, and had had some great races where I was all Big East. There are plenty of challenges particular to being a walk-on where it would have been easy to just quit, but this was honestly never even a remote possibility–nothing was going to stop me from being able to contribute to that team. Post-collegiately, running can be quite challenging to balance with regular life, let alone earning a Ph.D. at the University of Virginia, or teaching and writing and running a small business. If I am anything, I am persistent! Don’t give up on your dreams because that’s what makes you a real human.

What is one primary lesson you have learned from yoga?

I think with yoga, it really is what I said earlier about being okay with you are. While there are some complex poses I can do, it can still be very intimidating when you see some of the more crazy poses, even as a yoga teacher. But you don’t have to be able to do the hardest poses to be a great teacher! That’s also part of the fun of yoga, knowing that you always have somewhere new to go and learn, but also understanding your limits in the moment. I love showing my yoga students that yoga is this never ending journey. It truly is a lifelong journey of continued growth, and no matter the pose it will may feel totally different from one day to another.

Why are running and yoga so successfully paired together?

In the past 3-4 years or so, I drastically cut down on my running mileage and upped the yoga time each day with great results. I essentially cut my mileage in half from about 50-60 miles per week to somewhere right around 30–this includes the training for my sub-3:00 marathon which included I think maybe 2 weeks where I hit 40 on the nose, but nothing more than that. I also have a possible insane but definitely unconventional training method which involves pretty much no workouts but races nearly every weekend. Somewhere along the line I discovered this plan accidentally–I really just had no time for specific running workouts during the school week, but I really really love to compete, so I just did what I enjoyed the most and it’s worked out better than what’s generally prescribed. I’ve beaten a lot of my old college PRs that I thought I’d never come close to again.

Yoga aids running performance because it corrects imbalances in your body that you otherwise probably would never have even known that you had (until you got injured), and generally makes you more aware of how well your body is doing, so that you can fine-tune a run or a race in a way that you couldn’t before. Yoga also strengthens your core, helps you move more fluidly and efficiently, and prevents a lot of common runner problems like IT band tightness (which is actually what got me hooked on yoga to begin with). With yoga, you can train more consistently. I can’t remember the last time I was injured (knock on wood). I’ve always been a natural endurance athlete, but I would swear that yoga has helped my speed somehow too!

Yoga and running do more than impact the individual, these self-care practices transform entire communities. While both involve moving your individual body, these self-care practices create a community movement towards health. As you run your race and unroll your mat with us after crossing the finish line, know that you are a part of our movement to increase wellness in the Greater Richmond region. We cannot wait to unroll the mat with you and help you recover after crossing the finish line this weekend! #bethemovement

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