For our NYRR RUNCENTER series, NYRR’s Katie Manzi is going to a different class each month to see what’s on offer for runners and non-runners alike. Check out last month’s post here to learn what salsa dancing can do for you!
The week of June 17 was particularly dreary, with rain falling every day. Going out for a run was not an option most nights as thunderstorms rolled through region. I missed an entire week of running, and by Friday I was looking for something to stay loose and avoid the rain. RUNHealthy: Friday Night Yoga at the RUNCENTER seemed the perfect choice. Ironically, it ended up being all sunshine when I headed toward class.
Unlike salsa dancing, yoga is something I’d done previously, although I never fully committed to yoga before. If you are afraid of going because you have an injury or certain positions you are worried about, don’t be! Victor, this class’ instructor, will put you at ease. For example, my tiny, delicate wrists make many yoga moves extremely difficult for me. Victor asked at the beginning of the class if anyone had any injuries or sensitivities that he should be aware of. Although I did not speak up like I should have, I found out after the class is that Victor also has very small wrists, and therefore his classes focus less on moves that involve putting too much strain on them, which made the overall experience much better. So don’t be like me and speak up when you go!
I arrived about 15 minutes early to claim my spot. I had forgotten to bring my own yoga mat, but the RUNCENTER had plenty I could borrow. When the class began, it was a little difficult to get into the mindfulness spirit with the hustle and bustle of people picking up their race materials for the Achilles Hope & Possibility 4M, but Victor encouraged us to block it out.
As the class progressed and we started to really get into the moves, Victor reminded us that breathing was key, and it was OK if we couldn’t do every move perfectly, which was very encouraging. I feel that with yoga people get discouraged if they can’t do everything right off the bat, and Victor’s encouragement helped us stay positive.
“As long as you are still breathing, it’s yoga!” he said.
As someone who has not done yoga in more than a year, I found the moves challenging but not too difficult. They reaffirmed that my balance is terrible, and sometimes my muscles quaked as I tried to hold a pose, but it all felt really good. If I fell out of a pose, I just laughed it off and tried again. As for the stretching, after being cramped at my desk all week, my legs, back, shoulders, just about everything was very tight, and by the end of the class I felt totally relaxed. One move in particular, “the lizard,” was one of the most intense stretching poses I’ve ever done—amazing and terrifying at the same time.
“I am a warrior, and warriors do not fall over.”-Me to myself
It was the best yoga class I have gone to—and like all RUNCENTER classes, it was free. In a city where yoga classes tend to be pretty pricey, the idea that you can register online, walk in, have an amazing class, and not pay a cent is miraculous.
However, the real miracle happened the next day. I woke up on a Saturday morning full of energy, which is unheard of for me. I went for a run to complete my NYRR Virtual Pride Run 5K Powered by Strava and ran my best time since college despite the fact that I haven’t been training at all. My legs felt fantastic, and although they were a little sore from the yoga, the shin pain that I’ve had to endure my entire long-distance running life did not flare up.
I could not recommend this class enough. Yoga has huge benefits for runners and non-runners, and these go beyond exercise. The class calmed me down at the end of a long week, gave me energy, and left me in a great mood.
Victor teaches at the RUNCENTER once a month, but there are tons of yoga classes throughout every week with equally amazing instructors. Check out the NYRR event calendar to find the yoga class that works best for you and sign up!