Got a stage race in your future, or a distance relay? Coach Ian Torrence has some useful advice for you at iRunFar.com. I made some suggestions of three restorative yoga poses to help you unwind, unclench, and prepare for bed. Read them here.
For more on recovery, see The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery.
For a follow-along restorative yoga practice, stream or download my “Yoga for Athletes Teachers’ Lounge: Gentle and Restorative” class at YogaVibes.
If I were to make a word cloud of the language I use while teaching, some of the bigger words would be or, maybe, might, could, can, and try. I’d been thinking this was a weakness—offering students too many choices, suggesting a passivity that stands in contrast to the clear action of short, simple commands (“Inhale, lift your arms; exhale, lower them.”)
Then I met Anneke Lucas, founder of Liberation Prison Yoga. We chatted at the Liberation Prison Yoga booth at the Yoga Journal LIVE! conference in New York during the lulls in my book signing. Describing the teacher trainings LPY leads, Anneke said the teachers work carefully to avoid direct commands. Instead, the teachers use conditional language or the first person—”You might like to lift your arms,” “I lift my arms”—so that inmates can claim some agency over their practice.
This was so inspiring! And while I am certainly not drawing a parallel between prison guards and coaches, I do think the idea of conditional language giving the agency back to the practitioner is germane to my population of athletes doing yoga. Instead of receiving commands that you must follow, on the yoga mat you get to have a sense of self-efficacy, and to make choices that suit you moment to moment.
A dozen years ago, I had a teacher who said, “Everything I say is optional, just like being here is optional.” What a beautiful lesson it is that even when being somewhere is not optional, how you meet the moment is up to you.
Read more about Liberation Prison Yoga’s work here.
It was a treat to connect with the sweet students at Yoga Journal LIVE! in New York last weekend. I taught three sessions and, as promised, am writing up a postview with practice notes. (This is my preferred method, as it lets me teach to the students who are there, versus rigidly following a handout.) When page numbers are noted below, they refer to my latest book, Everyday Yoga. If you’d like to know more about my approach to teaching yoga to athletes and everyone, and the way I sequence workshops and classes, visit Sage Yoga Teacher Training, where you’ll find online courses to help you design balanced, innovative yoga practices for yourself and your students. Or come to my North Carolina yoga studios—we offer a wide range of yoga teacher trainings at the 200- and 500-hour levels, as well as continuing education. Read more here.
Core Strength for Real People
We used a few concepts as we moved through short core routines that appear in Everyday Yoga.
- Think of the core as a container: front (abs), back (back), top (diaphragm), and bottom (pelvic floor)
- Think in terms of cardinal directions—north, south, east, west—and ordinal directions—northeast, southwest, etc. Do movements in every direction.
- Think in terms of the room: looking front, up, down, left, and right
- Think in terms of stabilization and articulation
- Leg-Swing Flow (pp. 36–37). We added stabilization with rainbow arcs as one leg extended backward.
- Seated cat/cow to Dynamic Core (pp. 68–69). In the bridge, we added shifting weight on the feet, marching, and leg lifts.
- Planks and Backbends (pp. 58–59).
- Table/boats/folds (pp. 76–77). We added “listing boat” by rocking to one hip and lowering to half boat.
A More Perfect Union: Building Better Balance
Balance is a dynamic union between hard and soft, effort and ease, sthira (stiffness, stability) and sukha (sweetness, mobility). We need balance top to bottom, front to back, and left to right—and we need to find the right balance between work and rest so that we are challenged to grow but capable of adapting. We used this physical practice to explore areas of balance and imbalance in our bodies.
Next, we moved through three iterations of dancer, tree, pigeon, and eagle pose, all of which appear in Everyday Yoga.
- Standing Balance Flow (pp. 50–51)
- Dancer/Tree/Pigeon/Eagle (pp. 60–61). Instead of pigeon leg in side plank, we did lifts to bridge with a figure 4 cross of the leg.
- Reclining Twists (pp. 80–81). We included a side bow as our dancer pose variation.
Yoga for Athletic Recovery (and Tired Moms)
Nothing feels better after a full day of active asana and listening than gentle and restorative yoga! In this late-afternoon session, we rolled around on the floor in mellow poses. It’s exactly when you don’t feel like you have time for a practice like this that you need it the most. For more on the mechanics of athletic recovery, please see my book The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery. These routines appear in Everyday Yoga.
- Supported backbend
- Six Moves of the Spine, Supine, One Leg (pp. 38–39)
- Six Moves of the Spine, Prone, Bent Knee (pp. 34–35)
- Tree with side bend, hip to wall; twist to wall, raised leg against it
- “Christina’s World” (pp. 66–67)
- Reclining Twists (pp. 80–81)
Students: I look forward to seeing you again, if only online here and at Sage Yoga Teacher Training!
Next weekend, I’ll be presenting at Yoga Journal LIVE! at the Hilton Midtown in New York City. Single-class passes go on sale Monday, April 4, right here. Using the code SAGE will save you 15 percent!
Here are my offerings:
Core Strength for Real People
Friday, April 8, 5:30–7:00 p.m.
Paying a little attention to core strength most days makes everything easier: it alleviates back pain, improves your balance and posture—and yes, tones your belly. Using a simple approach to your core, you’ll learn accessible sequences to shore it up—whether you’re regaining strength postpartum, busy lifting toddlers, or spending your day driving a carpool.
A More Perfect Union: Building Better Balance
Saturday, April 9, 8:00–10:00 a.m.
We achieve yoga when we unite hard and soft, effort and ease, in happy balance. Using simple self-assessment tools, we’ll identify spots of imbalance—both in our bodies and in our lives. Then we’ll move through an asana and journaling practice designed to bring us to a new level of balance—top to bottom, left to right, front to back, inside and out. Discussion, asana, and journaling.
What to bring: A notebook or tablet.
Mostly asana with journaling.
Yoga for Athletic Recovery
Saturday, April 9, 3:30–5:30 p.m.
Learning to recover well is the secret to peak performance, because we grow stronger not during our workouts but during our recovery—the time we spend between our efforts. Athletes or anyone in need of downtime (like conference-goers and moms) will foster their recovery in this workshop, using gentle but deep hip openers and restorative poses to unwind completely. Learn ways to relax for greater efficiency in sport and in life.
What to bring: A bolster, blanket, or beach towel.
I’ll also be doing a book signing in the Yoga Market, open to everyone, on Saturday afternoon, 2:30–3:00 p.m. Please come see me!
Sign up here and use code SAGE to save 15 percent. Single-class passes go on sale Monday, April 4. I really look forward to seeing you.
Do you love cycling? Are you looking for a way to improve your cycling? Do you want a chance to learn from experts for free? Check out the Road Cycling Summit from my friends at the Cycling 360 podcast. You’ll get the chance to see me present my sessions, Yoga for Cyclists, at 3:00 pm EST on April 6, and Recovery: The Key to Performance at 12:00 pm EST on April 9. Don’t miss out!
The summit is an in-depth event that will include 18+ sessions to help you improve your game on and off the bike, presented by experts from all over the world of cycling, including my frequent Running Summit co-speaker Matt Fitzgerald (he’s a great presenter!). Most of the sessions are going to include a live Q&A portion. Don’t miss this chance to learn a bunch of great information and ask me and the other presenters the questions you want answered about cycling.
The Summit will take place April 6–10, 2016, and is totally free to attend live! Head on over to roadcyclingsummit.com to learn more and register. See you there!
Yoga and movement teachers: there’s a new course for you at Sage Yoga Teacher Training! The Workshop Workshop is an online workbook course that will lead you through all the steps for planning, placing, and promoting a workshop to help your students grow.
The first 20 people to use the code BLOG will each save $50—bringing the course down to $99. This will pay for itself, as you’ll be inspired and empowered to get rolling with a strong, rewarding workshop program. And if price is an issue, please reach out using the form below. I am happy to offer a sliding scale those whose primary work is to help others.
Sign up now!
Meet Christina Roberts, the newest certified Sage Yoga for Athletes teacher. Christina is a health coach, yoga teacher, and dedicated runner about to qualify for the Boston Marathon (I just know it—read her running blog here!).
Christina lives in the Lehigh Valley, where she teaches both endurance athletes and teams. You can find her weekly Prehab Yoga class at Emmaus Yoga. And you’ll be in capable, empathetic hands. Christina’s teaching is crystal clear, makes a lot of room for athletes to adapt based on their bodies and their point in the training cycle, and considers the special needs of the athlete in yoga class. She’s relatable and inspiring at the same time!
I take it Christina wore shoes in the race!
However you use your body, there’s nothing like having a yoga teacher who understands your unique needs. For athletes who carry a lot of cumulative stress through training, it’s priceless to find a teacher like Christina who doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk. As a coached athlete with a specific time goal in mind, she really understands the amount of physical and mental effort and stress athletes put toward reaching their dreams. You’ll be well served to study with her and her certified colleagues!
Are you a real person? Me, too! I often feel pressed for time, and I certainly have a real body; that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t keep my core strong. I do that by taking and teaching Pilates classes and supplementing that with a home practice like this one I wrote up for Yoga Journal.
Core strength is a beautiful thing—but not for aesthetic, Instagram-worthy reasons. It’s about having the control and support to engage in whatever you like to do (run along the local trail, play tennis, build furniture) without strain or injury. It’s not about what’s on the outside, padding and all; it’s about building strength on the inside, through the belly, side waist, glutes, and back.
I know, I know. You’re wary of adding a new routine to your packed schedule. Well, there’s good news: Hold each of these poses for up to a minute, resting as needed, and you’ll wrap up the whole sequence within 12 minutes. Do it three times per week, and you might be surprised at how much core strength you can gain with only about 30 minutes of focused work each week.
You can see the entire sequence here, and follow along. And if you’re in New York City or want to be, I’ll be teaching these and similar doable moves for core strength for real people at Yoga Journal LIVE! on Friday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. You can save 15 percent when you sign up by using the code SAGE. Register here.
We’re holding another preview session for this summer’s trip to Provence—and there’s a new low price ($3,995)! Join me, Liz, and Claire for wine, cheese, and a slideshow this Saturday, March 5, at 5:00 p.m. (before the Duke–Carolina game!). Read about it here and RSVP.
My post at Yoga for Aging Athletes today talks about legs up the wall—one of my personal favorite poses—and includes a few reasons why not to take the pose. Read it here.