Pigeons And A Pain In The Butt

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Admittedly, I have a love hate relationship with pigeons. If you have ever been to NYC you will understand my hate relationship. If you have ever taken a yoga class and are a runner with tight hips, you will understand my love relationship.

First let’s delve into the love relationship with a little yoga.  Pigeon pose is a great one for almost any runner.  As you log your miles it is common to get tight muscles, especially around the hips.  Most yoga instructors will tell you that we carry a lot of our stress and tension in the hip area, making it a great reason to get in there and stretch them out.  This pose is the ultimate hip opener.

During last year’s marathon training I experienced some serious piriformis pain aka “pain in the butt.”  This stretch really helped ease the pain.  It also helps stretch the groin area, psoas, abdomen, IT band and lower back.  Most any runner could use some help in at least one of these areas.

Keep in mind that this is an intense stretch.  Do not do this with cold muscles.  I recommend it at the end of a workout or yoga session.  As with any type of stretch, once you get into it try to relax.  Never, ever bounce in any kind of stretch!

Below is my preferred way to do this move.  Start in downward facing dog and lift a leg into one legged downward dog.  Slowly pull that leg toward your chest, bend the knee toward your nose, then open the hip before placing your leg down so that your foot is near your other knee.  Your hips should stay in line with each other and the leg behind you should stay in line with your hip and entire body (don’t let it go out to the side in either direction).

Disclaimer:  I am not a yoga instructor.  Just a girl who runs a lot and has tight hips.  I have taken many a yoga class and this has been a huge help for me.

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If your hip doesn’t come all the way down you can place a block or a folded towel below you so that you can settle in.  You can hold this pose with your back up as shown or if you want a deeper stretch you can lay your chest down in front of you.  It is intense but shouldn’t be painful.  Try to relax, take a few deep breaths and then repeat on the other side.

The Hate:

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If you have ever been to NYC you have noticed that there is an abundance of pigeons along with an abundance of people who like to bring bread and seeds to feed the birds. This causes the birds to congregate by the hundreds in the middle of a sidewalk.  Pigeons are filthy and really just plain annoying for anyone trying to walk or run on the sidewalks.

I honestly never understood the fascination with pigeons nor did I ever have a desire to sit around feeding them.  I now have even less of a desire to be anywhere near them.

A few winters ago I was doing my morning run along the East River.  As I made my turn to head back home a cute little dog was jogging along side his owner coming towards me.  He got ahead of his owner and between us was a flock of pigeons (I assume here that they go in “flocks”) pecking away at seeds on the sidewalk.  They were so startled at the presence of the dog that they flew away without realizing any of their other surroundings.  By surroundings I mean me.

Without any warning, a pigeon flew directly into my forehead!  At first I couldn’t even figure out what had just happened.  It looked like something out of a movie, I groaned, all the other runners stopped and stared in disbelief, and then I did the only thing I knew to do.  I kept on running.

If you run the East River in the mornings you may have noticed me that day because I was the girl who kept moaning, “Ewww” for the remainder of my run.

Bert and a pigeon

Sorry Bert I think you’re adorable, but I will stick with the yoga version.

What To Do When You’re Frozen Indoors

Beautiful run last night before the freeze set in.

Beautiful run last night before the freeze set in.

Hi my name is Sarah and I am a running addict.  Phew.  I said it.  Not that I was ever in denial nor does anyone who knows me doubt this.  I certainly didn’t start out that way.  When my husband (boyfriend at the time) first joined a gym I lied and told him I had bad knees and couldn’t run.  I’m willing to bet a part of him misses those days!

So what happens when the high outside is -11 and we are strongly encouraged to stay indoors?  The problem is trying to find a workout that actually feels like a workout.

A few years ago I tried my first yoga session.  It was a rainy day and I was restless and I decided to give it a reluctant shot.  I came home and proudly announced that this is what I had been looking for the last few years.  I have always been frustrated with my bulky figure skater legs and tush.  I was surprised at how well the yoga class strengthened, toned, and stretched all of my muscles using my own body weight.  I even had a sweat going on.

Then I found www.yogaglo.com .  This site is far different from any other online yoga class you will find.  This is an actual yoga studio located in California.  Not only do they hire the top instructors in the country, but they hold classes during the week and tape their classes in HD.  Once a class has been taped, it is posted on their website along with a description, intensity level, duration, and the type of yoga class (vinyasa, hatha, etc.).

Trust me, this site is awesome.

Trust me, this site is awesome.

You can scroll through current classes or do a search through their archives.  I prefer Vinyasa yoga so I often will search for a Vinyasa class.  The reason I prefer these classes is that they are more of a flowing athletic class that keeps you moving in and out of poses.  I like to feel like I am getting a workout in and this has the perfect balance of poses and flow while covering upper body, lower body, and a lot of core.  The best part is that if you are pressed for time you can look for a 30 minute class and go for a level 2/3 to get a quick burn going.

Better yet, one of teachers was a yoga instructor for Nike’s running program.  She often posts classes geared for runners to aid in recovery or to work specific muscle groups to improve your training.

Since these classes are usually held in an actual studio filled with other yogis, you never feel like you are doing a typical online streaming class which often feels a bit cheesy like the old aerobic workouts of yore.  You will feel as if you are actually part of the yoga class.

If you haven’t ever tried yoga, I recommend giving this a chance.  Yoga works on your breathing, balance, whole body muscle strengthening and stretching.  This is a total body workout and you really will sweat.

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A few of my favorite instructors are Kathryn Budig, Jason Crandell, Dice Iida-Klein, Jo Tastula, Tiffany Cruikshank, and Noah Maze.  There are a ton of other awesome teachers, and a few famous instructors from the yoga world. I just prefer those instructors for their personalities and tendency to lead a good, strong yoga class.

Yogaglo offers a free 15 day trial.  The cost of Yogaglo is $18 a month.  The way I look at it, this is less than the cost of one class at a yoga studio.  If you know that the weather or lack of free time is going to keep you away from running for a while this is a great option.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.  Namaste!

I will be inside doing yoga today since cars were already buried on my run last night!

I will be inside doing yoga today since cars were already buried on my run last night!