Friday, October 9, 2015

5 Awesome Benefits Yoga And Running Bring To Life

As I ran one day it came to me, in the way that running and yoga bring insights, that there are striking similarities between the experiences of running and yoga. Neither is solely about benefits like relaxation, stress reduction or weight management, because the gains are so much bigger. Most forms of exercise and meditation enable us to practice the same skills and attitudes that also serve us well in life.

If you struggle to achieve balance, joy and growth in your life, choose an appealing form of exercise or yoga-like activity, and try it using these skills and attitudes:

1.  Respect your intelligent edge. We have all paid the price of not respecting the limits of our bodies, of not stopping at our intelligent edge. The result is physical pain or exhaustion after muscling into a pose that's beyond us or running too fast, too long on a given day. While you don't want to be a slacker, you also don't want to overdo.  It's similar to wanting to make partner, recognizing the 16 hour days, seven days a week are killing you, and deciding to slow down. Recognizing that you will get where you need to be eventually, but you only have one body and must respect it, is a useful way to view exercise and life.
2.      Balance energy and goals. Balance requires continually finding the strength to (in no particular order) set goals, achieve goals, set new goals and rework goals. Sometimes an injury gets in the way of moving forward. Sometimes one goal takes precedence over another. I thought I'd find the time to run a marathon this year, but with various things intervening, decided on a half instead. Though headstand is a goal, during each practice I don't necessarily strain to get closer. Learn that all personal and professional endeavors have an energetic push toward goals, while acknowledging that life happens and balance must be sought.
3.      Experience flow. Nothing beats the exhilarating state of flow. In flow one is challenged to perform, but the act is simultaneously effortless. Moving through the asanas of your yoga practice you may move into flow, realizing at some point that you are no longer thinking or evaluating, you're just practicing. On a long run there's often a point where you forget about the time, pace and distance and you just enjoy the feel of the air on your face, your feet hitting the ground and the feeling you're almost flying. Flow activities require skills you already possess, but they're skills you are constantly honing, much the way you develop your technique if you play a sport or musical instrument. Whether in exercise or life, challenges bring excitement and growth.
4.      Be present without striving. Some days I'm not striving to get anywhere in particular. In yoga I'm not trying to get deeper in a pose. On days like this my run is called, "Easy run," which is just what it sounds like. No requirements. There's nothing to achieve other than doing the three miles. It's like going for a leisurely bike ride with no particular destination and savoring the scenery. What a peaceful way to face a day. Be intentional about trying to master something, learn something new or perform at a higher level. The rest of the time, intentionally be present.
5.      Experience the joy of acceptance. Whether respecting your intelligent edge, creating balance in your practice and your life, or simply being present, consider whatever you can do at any given moment to be good enough if it's your best effort. Your best effort today may not be the same as your best effort tomorrow, and that's perfectly fine. It could not be any other way. Realize that everything you do does not have to be just shy of perfection and you will experience the joy of acceptance.

 There's a dynamic that occurs when you're working out or working on anything. You're trying to reach goals while also respecting your intelligent edge, learning to accept where you are today. The more you practice, the more you can bring these attitudes to life. So carve out time for your particular passion, be it kickboxing or Tai Chi, and develop skills and attitudes to bring you the balance and joy you need to face the world. Insight is another awesome bonus.

 Judith Tutin, PhD, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her at where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun and wellness to your life.

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