Here’s the last in my series of classes from the Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive. Join me for an in-person version of the intensive at Kripalu in January and at Carrboro Yoga in July, or online anytime at Sage Yoga Teacher Training.
In this short online yoga class for athletes, teachers, and anyone, filmed at the end of Day 5 of Sage’s Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive, we move through Sage’s three-pose “Christina’s World” sequence. You’ll learn how to move your spine into side bending, twisting, forward folding, and back bending as you release the inner, outer, front, and back lines of your hips. Along the way, Sage explains the rationale behind the sequence. Have a block, bolster and blanket available. (16 mins.)
Watch the entire class at Yoga Vibes.
In this class, filmed during my five-day teaching yoga to athletes intensive (also available online!), we explore principles of working from the core and controlling momentum. If you like to play, this is the practice for you! Expect to giggle and learn plenty as you roll around and maybe kick to handstand at the wall.
Yoga Class Description
In this yoga class for athletes and everyone, recorded at the end of Day 4 of Sage’s Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive, we play with controlling momentum from the core. You’ll warm up your core and your sense of humor as you roll in and out of a squat, and lift up and down to tall mountain pose. Then take what you learned into hand standing, finding a new sense of balance and alignment. Finish with a series of forward folds and hip stretches done at the wall. Along the way, Sage explains the anatomy of the hips and hamstrings and teaches you to find deep release while protecting your back. Have a block, bolster, space at the wall, and blanket available. (48 mins.)
Got five minutes? This short yoga video will get you looser through the shoulders, spine, and hips, give you a chance to connect with your breath, and help you focus better for the rest of the day. Better yet, you can do it wherever you are, whatever you’re wearing. Best of all: it’s free!
Yoga Class Description
In this short online yoga practice—perfect for a midday stretch break in your office—we move the spine through its planes of motion, loosening hips and shoulders along the way. No props needed; you can even leave your shoes on and do this routine in work clothes. Follow along with Sage Rountree to loosen tensions, sharpen focus, and increase your productivity!
Watch the full routine at Yoga Vibes.
Fans of the Pocket Guide will love this new book!
I’ve just pressed send on the e-mail submitting the last chunk of the manuscript for my sixth book. Fitting with the book’s frequent references to food, I told Wes that after today, the book was in the oven. I’ll still take it out to review edits and proofs—to baste it—but most of my work is done. Now the work is on the stovetop in the sauce—we shoot the pictures next week in Boulder.
I’ll look forward to sharing the fantastic title and concept once we have a cover finalized. Meanwhile, I’ll say that if you’re a fan of The Athlete’s Pocket Guide to Yoga or wished you had a handy reference for Parking Lot Yoga, you’ll be pleased! And if you’re looking for that reference, check out my Sequence Library at Sage Yoga Teacher Training.
Neda, Octavia, me, and Keith
It was a glorious day and a wonderful crowd for the inaugural Wanderlust 108 Mindful Triathlon in Atlanta yesterday. There was a 5K run/walk through beautiful Piedmont Park; an inspiring talk by Keith Mitchell; a rollicking concert by the Good Times Brass Band; and very sweet yoga focused on connection and a healthy dose of fun led by Neda Honarvar, Octavia Raheem, and MC Yogi. I absolutely loved having the opportunity to lead the group meditation. What a view it was to look out on 1,000 students practicing together!
We practiced metta meditation to strengthen our ability to treat others with loving kindness. To get better at running, you have to practice. To get better at asana, you have to practice. To get better at being loving, kind, and compassionate, you have to practice. Just like I’d write a plan for my athletes with workouts to develop strength for hills and ability to maintain race pace, metta is a workout to build your capacity to love.
To practice this mediation, you’ll visualize several people in various categories and send them love and well wishes:
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you be whole.
Remember, yoga means union, connection, wholeness.
Various approaches to metta will work in different orders. For the Wanderlust crowd, we started by warming up with the easiest category: loved ones. From a comfortable meditative position, sitting or lying down, imagine someone dear to you. Draw up their image clearly, and send them metta: May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be whole. Then move your attention to another dear one, and repeat your well wishes. Continue for several rounds.
Now check in. How are you feeling? Shift your position if you need to.
For the next category, turn your attention to neutral people—folks you see alongside you on the train or at school pickup; the cashier at the grocery; a bus boy at a restaurant. Visualize them as clearly as you can—this is harder than for the loved ones, of course—and send them metta: May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be whole. Continue for several rounds.
Again, check in, and notice how you feel now. Shift position if you need to.
Next, practice sending loving kindness to yourself. Self-compassion can be very difficult. Try breaking it into smaller pieces, sending love to yourself in your various roles: as a child; as a parent or a mentor; as a friend; as a lover; as a coworker; as an athlete; as a student. Send yourself metta: May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be whole. Continue for several rounds.
Notice the state of your body, mind, and breath now. Again, shift position if you need to.
In running intervals, we always want the last one to be the best. Now that you are fully warmed up to loving kindness, send it to those you may find it difficult to love, people with whom you have conflict. These can be people you know or those you don’t. Draw up the image of one of these people, and notice if the process leads you to tense up. Soften your physical body, and send them metta: May you be happy. May you be healthy. May you be whole. Continue for several rounds.
Finally, observe how you feel. See the recipients of your love arrayed all in front of you, and send metta to all of them, either silently or out loud.
To get better, keep practicing! If you have a mala, one nice approach is to choose one person per bead. As you touch the bead, imagine this person and send them loving kindness. You’ll be surprised that you can choose 108 people to love so easily, and you’ll feel more full of compassion and love when you finish.
Thanks to the staff of Wanderlust for capturing this amazing view!
Please share your experience with this beautiful practice!
Page 66 of the October issue of Yoga Journal features four poses I love for trail runners. You can also see a gorgeous slideshow illustrating the poses here. To complement the story, I recorded a twenty-minute practice featuring each of the poses, and my friends at YogaVibes have graciously made it free to you! If, after enjoying this video, you’d like access to more of my yoga classes for athletes and everyone, please use the code sagefreemonth and you’ll get a thirty-day free trial.
Yoga Class Description
Coach Sage Rountree, author of books including The Runner’s Guide to Yoga, leads this short online yoga practice designed to develop strength and flexibility for trail running. You’ll improve your alignment; challenge your balance; strengthen your hips and lower legs; and stretch your entire body in this short practice. Include these exercises after your run a few times each week for better connection and control on the trails. Check out Sage’s article in the October 2014 issue of Yoga Journal magazine for a breakdown of the 4 yoga poses featured in this class! (21 mins.)
Watch the full practice here.
New today: my professional development courses for yoga teachers have a home of their own at sageyogateachertraining.com! Whether you want to specialize in yoga for athletes or learn ways to up your game as a yoga teacher, you’ll find resources to sharpen your vision and confidence, jump-start your sequencing, and help you continue to grow.
Please click on over and let me know what you think!
This intriguing article in last week’s New York Times Magazine talks about the value of pretesting. The results of pretesting help refine the learning process and lead to better outcomes on final exams.
It strikes me that the same goes for endurance sports. There’s huge value in pretesting your training. The race itself should not be the only examination of how your work is going—just a final exam, and sometimes one that’s not that weighted. Testing isn’t always fun, but it doesn’t have to be hellacious. It’s a critical part of honestly assessing things as they actually are—and that’s mindfulness.
Racing Wisely, my book on mindful racing, covers testing in depth. Here’s a sample.
In order to adjust your training so you can achieve your best performance on race day, you’ll need to have a clear, concrete idea of how your training is working and what your abilities really are—not what you wish they were. Quantify and track your performance by repeating a time-trial test every few weeks. A time trial measures all three of our potential variables: intensity, time, and distance. Fix two variables of the test every time you repeat it, and look for improvement in the other variable. Depending on your sport and target race, tests could look like this:
- swimming 100 yards or meters all out for time; or swimming 5 x 100 yards or meters on short rest all out, looking for the best average time per 100
- swimming 500 yards or meters all out; or swimming 3 x 500 on short rest all out, looking for the best average time per 500
- riding a 3K time trial as hard as you can and measuring time
- riding a 40K time trial with your best effort and measuring time
- riding a five-minute time trial as hard as you can and measuring distance or power
- riding a forty-minute time trial with your best effort and measuring distance or power
- running a mile at your best effort for time
- running 5000 meters at your best effort for time
- running 30 minutes at your best effort for distance
All of these tests should be preceded by a warmup that culminates in a few short, fast efforts and a slightly longer, target-effort interval. You can complete them during your regular stepback (or “rest and test” weeks), or wherever they make most sense. Spread them out at least three weeks. Repeat your tests on a fixed course: the track, an open stretch of flat road, a trainer or treadmill (use the same treadmill every time if you can). Give each test an honest hard effort, without excuses. You need to know exactly where you stand in your training. Your best effort in a test will leave you feeling quite drained by the finish. If you can speed up considerably at the end of the test or realize you had more to give, you’ve learned something useful; if you slow down or stop, you’ve learned something else useful.
Track your tests. This can be done in a notebook, on an Excel spreadsheet, or in an online program like Training Peaks (trainingpeaks.com). Watch your progress month to month. Don’t get hung up on a single poor test—we all have bad days. Often we learn more from the tests that don’t go well than from the tests that do. Bad tests give us the opportunity to look at the training cycle that led up to them and assess whether we should make adjustments. A downward trend of poor tests indicates a need to adjust the stress/rest and consistency/variety balance in your training. I outline these adjustments below.
Regular performance tests are wonderful for building mental skills. Repeating them once a month or every other month will give you a race-simulation experience, from the apprehension beforehand to the satisfaction after, while encouraging you to push yourself based on exactly what you have to give, not how others are doing around you. Pay careful attention to the mental process before, during, and after your time trial. Are you having negative thoughts? What exactly are you afraid of? Is it in your control, or out of your control? Can you recast your thoughts to see the time trial as an opportunity, not a crisis? I ran my personal best mile on the track in the midst of high-volume Ironman training, because I figured I had nothing to lose—I was training for long, slow distance. To be candid, I even asked myself, “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” and envisioned some cataclysmic outcomes that might happen. They didn’t. I did learn that there’s much more in my legs, lungs, and heart than I expect, which was a valuable lesson for the Ironman.
Read more in Racing Wisely.
My newest class at YogaVibes talks you through timing. You’ll learn techniques to practice before, during, and after a workout, as well as hearing why I chose them. If you were at the free classes I offered during last winter’s tour of REI stores (thanks, prAna!), you’ll get a refresher on the sequences we practiced together.
Yoga Class Description
In this class for athletes, teachers, and everyone, filmed on Day 4 of Sage’s Teaching Yoga to Athletes intensive, we investigate yoga to do before, during, and after a workout. Learn dynamic warmup routines; practice focus techniques that work in a training session or competition; hold static stretches appropriate for right after a workout; and explore a series of reclining twists for deep release and relaxation around the hips, spine, and shoulders. Along the way, Sage explains exactly why and how these poses benefit athletes. Have a block, bolster, and blanket available. (69 mins.)