Pittsburgh Yoga Blog, Day 4: Runner’s High

WHIRL Magazine Pittsburgh yoga blog, Stephanie Flowers

Stephanie Flowers, Advertising Production Manager

I’m a runner by day and yogi by night.

At the urge of my chiropractor, I returned to yoga six months ago after taking a two-year hiatus. I had recently finished my second marathon after months of painful, injury-plagued training and a less than desired performance. My body was broken and my ego was bruised. I have been a runner for over half of my life and ran nearly every day without a second thought, but this was the first time I had experienced such resistance from my legs. I felt betrayed.

My chiropractor was practically my lifeline throughout my training. Having been the personal chiropractor for the Pittsburgh Ballet, he was filled with great tips on training, nutrition and home remedies to help me ease my aches and pains. He encouraged me to start doing yoga at every appointment, often awkwardly mimicking poses in his cramped exam room. I resisted for months. I had done yoga before and thought it was perfectly fine, but I never considered myself to be the “yogi” type.

That was until Dominique Ponko came into my life. Dominique is the owner of Yoga Flow Pittsburgh and is literally the most effervescent person I have ever met. She is brimming with what yogis call “good energy.” Dominique welcomed a few of my friends and me to her world with complimentary passes to any of her four studios and in doing so, eliminated all of my empty excuses. It was free, close to home, and supposedly, it would heal my injuries. I almost didn’t have a choice.

I started off slow, going to beginners classes once or twice a week but found myself venturing into the “All Levels” class just a few weeks in. The effect yoga was having on my running was incredible and practically instant. The stretching rewards from yoga were a no-brainer, especially when I rarely ever stretched after my runs. The hip opening poses, although torturous, were helping to release my tension and reduce my iliotibial band syndrome in my right thigh.

What I wasn’t expecting were the benefits of breathing. Vinyasa style yoga synchronizes poses with breathing, which allows more oxygen to flow to the muscles, leaving them refreshed and loose. Now that I wasn’t suffocating my muscles, they were feeling reinvigorated and I was once again looking forward to stepping out the door in the morning to pound the pavement.

Now that I am officially a “yogi,” I am feeling like my old self again. I wouldn’t say that yoga has completely healed all of my injuries, but it has brought my tired legs back to life. It has introduced me to a whole new way of exercising, altered my outlook on recovery, and, perhaps most importantly, reunited me with my love of running. And as I embark on my third year of marathon training, I plan on incorporating my practice into my training and graciously following the journey that it takes me on. — Stephanie Flowers

Find the yoga practice that’s right for you! Browse classes, pricing, and general information from Pittsburgh yoga studios in WHIRL’s 2013 Yoga Guide.

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