The final panel at the summit last weekend, prior to a free giveaway-palooza, was a casual talk by the planning committee entitled “Fitness for Everyone.”
Each blogger shared personal fitness-related stories, whether it be Kath biking to the supermarket or mowing the lawn, Caitlin and Tina navigating injuries, Meghann training for marathons, or Heather displaying a yoga-running balance. The overall message was that exercise should be a priority, but that it should also be enjoyable. There is no mold that perfectly fits us all, and we all have different activities that suit us best.
Then Jenna stood up and cemented that point. She faced us without Powerpoint slides, without notecards, without any pre-planning. She told us how running continues to disagree with her body and expressed that it’s likely she will stop entirely after her half marathon this fall. What will she do then? Yoga. Just yoga.
When I arrived in Boston, I knew I would be spending two days mingling with many, many runners. I had prepared myself to be upset, to be frustrated, to be angry with myself and my knees.
But I wasn’t.
In my first couple months of physical therapy last winter, I tried yoga out, but I couldn’t focus. I was counting the days until I’d run again, and I felt neither commitment nor connection to yoga. But when my knees flared up again, I chose to give yoga another chance. Somehow, in just a few short months, it has become just as rewarding to me as running once was.
Yoga has made me more connected and aware of my body than ever before. I used to say that about running, and it was true to a point. I could tell when I was underfueled, overworked, or just right, depending on how I felt on that day’s run. But having that awareness didn’t necessarily mean I listened to what my body was saying.
When I ran, I was always planning. 5 miles today, 3 tomorrow. Long and slow today, tempo tomorrow. Yoga is different. I can do it for twenty minutes or an hour and a half. I can shake and stumble out of poses; I can also shock myself and balance with strength I never knew I had. I can feel sweat coat my body, and I can also relax, letting my mat simply be a place for a gentle stretch. Most of all, I never choose what to do in advance. I allow the moment to guide me, and my body tells me if it needs work or rest, if it’s ready for a new and challenging pose, or if it needs to resettle in the familiar.
I still love to run. I was only able to enjoy it for a year, but it was a wonderful year, and I am glad I was able to participate in the running community for that time. I’ll always know I have the heart and the drive to run long distances. But putting my sneakers in my closet and shutting the door is a decision I am not only proud, but content to have made.
I believe our bodies were meant for activity. But I am also a firm believer that we each have our own unique niche. Some people run. Some walk. Some enjoy the gym. Some dance. [Have I ever mentioned I took twelve years of ballet lessons?] Some people swim, some bike, some climb. And some practice yoga.
Exploring the many different forms of movement can be half the fun of staying active. The other half, at least for me, is finding the one that’s right for you, falling in love with it, and treasuring its sweet release.
What is your exercise release?