Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yoga vs. Tylenol

Disclaimer - I am not the women in the posted pictures...geez, I wish I looked that good!

I've been pretty athletic my whole life. Basketball, volleyball, tennis, hiking, canoeing, baling hay, working on a farm....I've been pretty active in my 33 years around here! But my addiction, the activity I can't do without is running. I run an average of six days a week. When I don't run my body aches from inactivity. You're thinking I'm crazy aren't cha? My dad can't figure out why I run this much either. "That's why cars were invented." he says. He's secretly embarrassed by me but don't tell him I know.

As all athletes know, eventually your body will get aches and pains and I was no exception. When I was younger Tylenol, a little stretching, maybe some Icy Hot was all I needed to get over minor discomforts. After the birth of my twins, about 4 or 5 years ago, my body seemed to be telling me that it was getting overworked. I was having pains in my shoulders and hips but the worst were the shooting pains I was getting in my feet. I tried changing running shoes and changing where I ran. I even had my feet x-rayed looking for a problem but nothing worked. Tylenol wasn't even making a dent in the pain. The pains got so bad I was limping all the time and could barely walk around the house. I was very, very grumpy. It drives me crazy when I can't run and here I was unable to run for weeks and stuck in a house with two babies. Grumpy doesn't even begin to describe it.

I went to the library one day looking for some alternative; an exercise video or something. Searching through the exercise books I found this book, Real Men Do Yoga, at the library. Seemed kind of interesting so I took it home to read...I didn't have much else to do. What I learned is repetitive motions through sports creates tension and muscle knots and causes our bodies to get out of alignment. Yoga helps athletes to combat all that wear and tear we do on our bodies by stretching things out and realigning our body to its natural position.

The first time I did yoga it was just doing poses from this book. I'm sure I was doing plenty of things wrong but even after that first time my body felt better, looser, more relaxed. Through the past few years I have tried to practice yoga a couple times a week. I have never lived close enough to any yoga studio to practice with a real instructor but I have been lucky enough to find some great resources online.

YogaToday is a great website that has a new live streaming yoga class everyday taught by three very different instructors. With its variety in levels of classes and types of yoga it is a great place for anyone who wants to practice yoga at home.

Recently I have also been downloading some yoga podcasts from iTunes to my MP3 player when my internet isn't available. Dave Farmar, Philip Urso, Elsie's Yoga Class, and Hillary's Yoga Practice. All four of these podcasts come in different lengths and levels, plus the instructors all have something different to offer in their practice.

By no means am I an expert on yoga or running...or much of anything for that matter! I'm just sharing my experience with you. When in pain we will do just about anything to get rid of it and yoga has helped me. Yoga has helped to relieve my pain, taught me to relax and even helped me through the birth of my daughter. Hopefully I'll get the chance to go to a real yoga studio someday to take a class but for now while living on the plains of Illinois this is my yoga...and it sure beats Tylenol!

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