Ohio: join me at Go Yoga in Powell April 24–26 for a fun weekend of yoga for athletes!
In this weekend workshop, appropriate for all levels of yoga and athletic experience, we’ll learn poses to increase range of motion and flexibility, especially in the hips and hamstrings. We’ll spend some time cultivating sport-specific core strength and playing with balance, and we’ll examine yoga as mental training, learning how incorporating yoga’s approach to the body and mind can make us better athletes. Discover how to include yoga in your annual training plan, choosing sequences to complement your training both in season and during the off-season. Practicing the poses and techniques you’ll learn in this workshop will increase your flexibility, core strength, stability, balance, and physical and mental endurance, while lowering your recovery time and risk of injury.
REI has a wonderful blog full of very useful tips for athletes of all stripes. I was happy to write a piece for them with an overview of yoga’s benefits for athletes. You’ll find lots more on yoga for athletes in my books and videos, of course, but read it here to get started.
Once again, I’ll be spearheading a tour of REI stores to present on yoga for outdoor athletes on behalf of my wonderful sponsor prAna. Last year’s events featured me and my assistant Steve Krojniewski; this year, more of my colleagues, students, and protégées will join, and we all really look forward to seeing you!
Each event is open to athletes of all sports and all levels of yoga experience. We’ll be teaching a beginner-friendly class targeting outdoor athletes and answering your questions about how yoga and training mesh. Everyone who comes will receive a sweet gift from prAna, to boot. At only $10 for both members and nonmembers, this is a great opportunity to connect with a teacher who shares your interests and to jump-start your yoga practice for 2015. Space at some of the stores is limited, so sign up now to reserve your spot. Bring a yoga mat, an open mind, and all your questions about yoga for athletes!
Classes with Sage Rountree
I’ll be in the Seattle area one week and the midwest/NYC another.
A certified Sage Yoga for Athletes teacher, Steve has assisted me in my teachers’ intensive, helped me cover last year’s tour, and works with Notre Dame athletes to achieve their personal best. He’s sure to give you lots of great tips! Visit his website.
Thierry is soon to finish the Carolina Yoga Teacher Training. He’s passionate about yoga for athletes and, as a former marine, understands the mindset athletes bring to yoga—and the ways yoga can help athletes prevent injury and recover from training.
Congratulations to the most recently certified students to finish my Teaching Yoga to Athletes course! Certification is a detailed process that involves in-depth study, mentorship, and work beyond the course content, as well as a written exam and submission and critique of a teaching video. By the end, both I and the student teacher are very confident in their abilities to serve athletes of all sports and levels.
Alix Blair, Fran Morfesis, and Alexandra DeSiato
Alix Blair has just moved to Berkeley, California, though we got to enjoy her company for many years here in North Carolina, as she graduated from our yoga teacher training and taught at our studios while in graduate school. (That’s Alix at the left, one day when she assisted me in teaching UNC’s football team.) Alix teaches in a joyful style that lets her love for the practice shine through. She takes special interest in rock climbing, running, and surfing, though students at any level and athletes in any sport will really enjoy her heartfelt teaching. She’s also a filmmaker—check out her big project, Farmer Veteran, here. E-mail Alix to learn more about her offerings in the East Bay Area.
Me and Tracy Kim
Tracy Kim lives in Seattle, Washington, where I got to spend some time with her in person last year (that’s her at right). Tracy has fantastic energy that suits her work with high school athletes. In her teaching video, she effortlessly taught a full gym of wrestlers at the end of their practice and commanded their complete attention. It was a thing of beauty to watch! Visit Tracy’s website at Tracy-Yoga.com.
My colleague Wendy Winn presenting on running form
It was, as ever, a treat to present at the Running Summit in Morristown, NJ, last weekend. The presentations, participants, and facility are all top-notch. (At right is Wendy presenting on running form analysis. If you are in New York City, you should definitely schedule a custom running analysis session with Wendy at NY Custom PT!) I spoke on race plans and execution (the subject of my book Racing Wisely) and led a fun session on core strength. After a day of sitting, I know it felt good! As promised, here are my notes for those of you who attended (and those who are interested).
The alternative title for the presentation was “Beyond Planks and Crunches.” We focused on ways to create and progress core-strength routines for ourselves and our athletes that target the needs of the runner. Specifically, we worked to release the front of the body—an area that grows tight as we spend most of our day sitting—and then to strengthen the back of the body. Without first stretching the front, strengthening the back is ineffective, as you’d be constantly butting up against the limitations of tightness.
To that end, we started with some yoga-derived stretches.
Six Moves, Prone, One Leg Bent
Along with “Christina’s World” and the Tall Mountain Flow listed below, this sequence will appear in Everyday Yoga(preorder your copy today!). It’s also in this short clip:
Rest on your belly. This stretches the chest, hip flexors, and ankles.
Take several breaths in sphinx pose. While you have your chest propped, you can drop your chin to your chest to stretch the back of your neck.
Hike one knee up, and add a side bend to look toward it.
Finally, twist toward it as you spin your chest to the ceiling.
Finish with some cat/cow stretches: exhale and round your back like a cat; inhale and lift your tailbone and your gaze while you arch your back.
Find mountain pose, the basis of good running form.
Lift your arms, then your heels, keeping good alignment.
To add, bend your knees either a little or a lot!
Plank and Variations
The work you did in mountain pose applies directly to plank. To make your plank harder:
Lower to your elbows.
Lift and lower one leg at a time.
Lift one leg and pulse it higher.
Lift one leg and draw circles with it in both directions.
Locust and Variations
Locust pose is spinal extension work—and it’s very good at building the strength that helps you maintain good posture as you fatigue on the run.
Start on your belly, forehead to stacked palms.
Lift and lower one leg at a time. Inhale to lift, exhale to lower.
Lift and lower one leg and your upper body. Keep your head on your hands so you don’t hyperextend your neck.
Extend your arms and lift and lower opposite arms and legs.
Add a side bend to work your obliques: from a raised position, slide your torso to the right for several breaths, then to the left for several more.
Bridge and Variations
This is such a doozy—and so important for runners. The work in bridge strengthens the glutes and hamstrings, which power your stride.
Start in a shoulder bridge.
Lift one leg. Inhale to hold your knees parallel; exhale and kick your foot toward the ceiling.
Lift one leg and draw circles in both directions.
Lift one leg and lean it a few inches wide, then a few inches across your body.
Bird Dog and Variations
This is more spinal extension work. As opposed to locust, in which we articulate the spine into a backbend, bird dog challenges us to hold stable while the arms and legs move contralaterally. This imitates the running stride.
From hands and knees, inhale to extend opposite arm and leg; exhale to lower them. Switch from side to side.
Hold extended; pulse higher.
Hold extended; draw circles with your raised leg while holding your torso and pelvis quiet.
Hold extended; inhale to move your opposite arm and leg wide into a half X position; exhale to return to bird dog.
Side Lying Work
We challenged shoulder stability, the obliques, and the hip rotators, including gluteus medius, in this sequence.
Lift and lower to a side plank on the forearm and stacked knees. For more challenge, hold several breaths with your top leg raised.
Balance on the bottom-side hip and lift your legs and top-side arm for several breaths.
Jacob’s Ladder Clamshell. We played with this progressively; adapt to your own needs:
From your side, knees bent, inner edges of the feet touching, raise and lower your top knee.
Raise and lower your top foot.
Raise and lower both feet.
With the feet raised, raise and lower your top knee.
With the feet raised and top leg lifted, add a Spider-Man kick of the top leg before cascading back down.
At the bottom of each round, repeat one basic clamshell.
A Note on Twisting
We ran out of time, so we didn’t do the rotation sequence I’d planned. It was boat pose (V sit) with rotation to challenge the obliques more. Definitely add some twisting exercises when you practice at home!
Along with dozens of other short videos and full-length classes with me, this is available to stream at YogaVibes. Use the code sagefreemonth to extend your free trial to a month! This sequence is a nice way to wind-down and target runner’s tight areas: the chest, the deep hip rotators, and the hip flexors.
Start on one hip, knees and ankles lightly stacked. Lower your chest toward the floor for a belly-down twist.
Take your legs into a pinwheel shape and fold over the front knee to stretch the glutes and piriformis. Read more at Yoga Journal.
With your legs still in the pinwheel shape, lift your hips to stretch the hip flexors and arch into a backbend.
Finally, here’s a link I mentioned in the Sunday morning session vis-à-vis a discussion on association and dissociation. This study shows that both are valid mental tools that can enhance performance—it depends on the athlete.
Thanks, everyone, for your cheerful attention. I hope to see you next time!
If you’re ready to start dreaming about enjoying a late-spring weekend of yoga, hiking/trail running, meditation, and live music in lush West Virginia, click here to see the lineup and schedule for Wanderlust Snowshoe. You can pick and choose as much or as little of the offerings as suit you. I’ll be teaching a few yoga practices, leading several sessions on meditation (all very beginner-friendly), and speaking on intention and goals. Registration opens February 10, but you can begin planning today!
Side note: if you look at the stellar roster of previous guests of the podcast, you’ll see that this is the only situation EVER where Peter Sagal will open for me, just as the list of members of the Runner’s World Advisory Board on the magazine’s masthead is the only place EVER where I will come in ahead of Joan Samuelson. I’ll take what I can get!
Sage Rountree is an internationally recognized authority in yoga for athletes and an endurance sports coach specializing in athletic recovery.
Sage is the author of six books, some of which include The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga, The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery, Racing Wisely and an upcoming release Everyday Yoga, which will be released in June 2015.
She also has a decade of experience teaching yoga, owns two yoga studios in North Carolina and is an experienced registered yoga teacher at the highest level with the Yoga Alliance.
Sage teaches both students and aspiring Yoga teachers alike with her students including casual athletes, Olympians, NBA and NFL players, and many University of North Carolina athletes and coaches.
Sage also competes in running races from the 400m to the ultramarathon and triathlons from the super sprint to the Ironman.
She holds coaching certifications from USA Triathlon, the Road Runners Club of America and writes for publications including Runner’s World, Yoga Journal, and USA Triathlon Magazine.
Sage shares her experience, study and teachings including:
How she went from couch potato to runner, triathlete and yogi
The intangible benefits of yoga that translate to improved running
Her tips for incorporating yoga into your training if you are new to it
Why yoga for running should be practiced quite differently from those who don’t run
When you should – and shouldn’t – consider adding yoga to your training
The 3 imbalances in runners that yoga can help address
Advice for men to overcome stereotypes and intimidation of yoga being a predominantly female activity
5 suggested yoga poses for runners to get started
How yoga can provide you the tools to help you execute at your best on race day
How she approaches racing and what she does when things aren’t going well
How listing your fears of racing ahead of time can help you address them in training
Her strategy of splitting races into four quarters instead of halves
When and what type of massage fits in best with your training and racing
Taking action on the things in your training that you are least confident about.
“If you’re scared to do something, it means you’re on the right track”
January marked my seventh year of visiting the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, where I led my annual weekend of yoga for athletes and a five-day intensive on teaching yoga to athletes (always available online, and offered in North Carolina this July). For most of us who visit, a stay at Kripalu is like being in yoga heaven: there are classes offered three or more times a day; the food is healthy and delicious; there are lovely hiking trails, a whirlpool, beautiful mountain views. Better yet, the retreat offers us a chance to observe our habits, and to try out some new ones.
Finding mountain pose
In yoga, we call these habits samskara—the ruts we dig for ourselves. Sometimes these ruts are important for getting in a groove. Like a trail carved into the forest, they help keep energy flowing in a certain direction. For example, developing a regular practice of yoga, meditation, writing, or running will require repetition and discipline. But often we fall into deep habits without noticing. I had a few meals with a woman who was participating in a detox program with the (apparently successful) goal of changing her sugar-eating habits. Over the weekend, there was a large group of women enjoying a program focused on self-renewal, on reprioritizing spending time on self-care instead of overcommitting and overgiving. Personally, I enjoyed the time away from e-mail and television and, for the most part, from melted cheese at both lunch and dinner.
Sisse and me in the forest
My assistant for both programs was Sisse Dall, who came all the way from Denmark to help out. Although she grew up in Scandinavia, Sisse had never been snowshoeing, nor had I. We cajoled an alumna of the program, Joanna, who leads hikes for Kripalu, into taking us out one afternoon. Toward the end of our trek, she led us onto Lake Mahkeenac—the Stockbridge Bowl—which she assured us was covered in over a foot of ice. After a few tentative steps, we strode out toward the middle of the lake. Joanna suggested that we spread out, close our eyes, and try moving through space with full attention on the inner experience.
Where else could one have such a novel project? The snow-covered ice was smooth, the expanse vast. I aimed for a house on the other side of the lake from our entry point near Kripalu’s beach and began moving. With the long snowshoes and poles, it was easy to fall into a steady, comfortable rhythm. After taking several dozen steps I had a few that were a little wobbly, but I followed Joanna’s advice and returned to my breath, committing to try just a few more. When I felt done, I stood still for a moment and opened my eyes.
Joanna and her dog Ruby watched me from inside the circle
Much to my surprise, I was looking at Kripalu’s beach—180 degrees in the other direction from where I thought I’d be facing! Joanna said, “Oh, I thought you were going to continue in your circle.” Circle?!? Yes. Joanna watched as I traced a circle twenty yards in diameter in a clockwise direction for one and a half revolutions, pointing me back toward where I came from. She thought I was doing it intentionally.
I revisited the circle the next day.
Not at all. I thought I was walking straight. But my footprints told a different story. And while I originally thought it was a downer—all that time I thought I was making progress, I was walking in a circle, and aren’t we all just walking on a frozen lake, anyhow, waiting for the ice to crack?—I came to a different conclusion, thanks to Barry Dorfman, one of the wonderful massage therapists at Kripalu Healing Arts. He pointed out that it could be a spiral, like our revolutions around the sun. There I was back at Kripalu another year, but with another layer of experience and perspective to share. I could stay in the circle with new awareness.
The way you end your yoga class deeply affects the student experience. In this piece, online at the prAna blog, I describe some steps to include to ensure your students enjoy a thoughtful transition off the mat:
Your yoga class is a vehicle for student transformation when it has a clear direction. This moves from the opening announcements through the practice, and it ends with Namaste. In this post, I describe six steps to creating a welcoming class in the first two minutes. Here, let’s explore how to build a strong container at the other end of class by closing with grace.
I’m excited to present again at the Running Summit in beautiful Morristown, NJ, in a few weeks. Early registration ends Friday, so sign up today and you’ll save $50. To save an additional $10, use coupon code SAGE when you register, and to save even more, you can avoid the online registration fee of $9.95 by mailing in your registration.
It’s an honor to be in the company of so many wonderful presenters. I know runners and coaches of all levels and interests are sure to take away a ton of immediately helpful information. See you there!
Early Registration Deadline January 23, 2015. Don’t miss out on this limited seating event. Event is open to coaches and athletes of all levels (no previous certification required). Sign up now to secure a seat with early registration pricing. Participants are eligible for NSCA and USA Triathlon CEU credit.
For Distance Runners and Coaches of All Levels and Abilities!
Hear internationally renowned coaches and running experts Matt Fitzgerald, Dr. Jonathan Dugas, Dr. Sage Rountree, Coach Peter Thompson, Wendy Winn Rhodes and Dani Sabella! Speaking topics will include the science of training intensity distribution, how to eat like an elite, the physiology of thirst, racing wisely and much, much more. Participants will also have the option to eat lunch with our speakers.
Matt Fitzgerald is an endurance sports writer, coach, and sports nutritionist. His many books include 80/20 Running, The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition, Racing Weight, Brain Training for Runners, and Triathlete Magazine’s Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide. He contributes regularly to magazines and websites such as active.com, competitor.com, Men’s Journal, and Women’s Running. Read More
Jonathan Dugas, Ph.D. will present on the physiology of thirst and training quality vs. quantity. Jonathan is co-author of Runner’s World The Runners’s Body and The Science of Sport blog. Jonathan Dugas obtained his Ph.D. in Exercise Physiology from the University of Cape Town in 2006. Read More
Sage Rountree, PhD, is an internationally recognized authority in yoga for athletes and an endurance sports coach with certifications from USA Triathlon and RRCA. She has authored several books and contributes to Runner’s World, Yoga Journal,and USA Triathlon Life. Read More
Peter John L Thompson has been a coach to international level athletes for over 40 years and is the innovator of the New Interval Training method of training. His international coaching expertise was formally recognised by the IAAF, the international governing body for Track & Field Athletics, in 2006 when he was appointed as the ‘IAAF Global Leader for Running’ and continues in this role today.Read More
Wendy Winn Rhodes
Wendy Winn Rhodes, PT, OCS, HFi, ART Certified Provider will present on analyzing running form, followed by a hands-on lab, allowing the participant to put skills into practice immediately. Wendy leads the physical therapy community for runners and triathletes, from beginner to Ironman, using her unique skill set of physical therapy, personal training, and coaching. The authority on running form, she specializes in gait analysis and believes manual therapy is an integral tool for all athletes. Read More
In addition to the speakers listed above, Dani Sabella will present on taking a closer look at women on the run.
Get NSCA CEU and USAT CEU Credits!
Get 1.4 CEU(s), or 14 contact hours for the CSCS & NSCA‐CPT.
Get 10 USAT Continuing Education Credits for attending The Running Summit!
Seating is limited so don’t miss your chance to sign-up early and attend the premier distance running clinic of 2015!.