by Katherine Moore (@RunningIntoYoga)
Local elite runner Katherine Moore has been using yoga to compliment her running for years. After studying meditation in South India recently, she thought about how similar running and mediation are, and has some great advice on how to incorporate some meditation into your training.
I have always thought that running and meditation are similar in many ways. While out on a run I am focusing on my breath, body and surroundings. Even when it is a struggle to get out for a run I can concentrate on staying relaxed while I push through barriers. Once I have finished a run, I realize that I have been concentrating on my breath and body, and that creates such an amazing feeling of being alive. Maybe you have experienced that.
I have just returned from South India where I studied yoga and meditation at an Ashram. I had done some meditation before but nothing like my experience in India. For a month I meditated every morning for one hour and now understand the similarities.
In the first week I struggled to sit, my body was sore and uncomfortable. My mind would wander in every direction. I did not look forward to the morning meditation and chanting at all. By the second week it was getting easier to slow down the thoughts, let go and relax in the present moment with my breath. The third week I could sit still for one hour without adjusting and I felt very relaxed. There were still days in the third week that were challenging; the struggle was there but if I relaxed and focused on my body, breath and my surroundings, everything was at ease.
The mind is like a muscle, you have to train it to relax the same way you train your body for running. An intention I used was of Gratitude, Compassion, and Love, which can be transferred into running as well.
If you want to start a meditation practice, start simple the same way you would start to train for an 8k or marathon. Create a quiet space with no distractions. You want to sit on pillows or a bolster high enough so your knees are relaxed below the pelvis, keeping a tall spine. Start with 5-15 minutes in the morning when you wake or evening before you sleep. You can set a timer so you are not opening your eyes and getting distracted. Sit with eyes closed and focus on the breath and body staying relaxed and at ease. You can increase the meditation time after a few weeks. It is important to stay with something that is attainable so you can stay consistent. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself and observe when you miss a day or a week. It is just like run training; there are injuries and hiccups along the way. That’s ok, you can always come back. Breathe, and let go. Create Gratitude, Compassion and Love.