Ok, so I’ve told you a bit about my weekend at Kripalu, but now for the good stuff…the actual Yoga for Athletes program!
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (probably like 5 times now!) I was at Kripalu for a weekend of Yoga for Athletes with Sage Rountree. Sage is an internationally recognized authority on yoga for athletes and sports endurance coach as well as author of several yoga for athletes books (all of which I own!) and contributor to Runner’s World and Yoga Journal – so basically she knows her stuff!
Our first program session was Friday night just a few hours after we arrived. We all gathered in the room we’d be using for the weekend, sat in a big circle and introduced ourselves – name, hometown, sport we were interested in and yoga experience. There were about 30 people and it was so interesting to hear each person’s background and why they were there, we had everything from Ironmen to casual runners, PE teachers, people coming back from injury, yoga instructors and even one or two with no previous yoga experience at all. (My favorite was a woman who taught a class called “Yoga for Creaky People” and proclaimed she was not a runner, but had run 7 half marathons and 2 marathons…ummm, I hate to be the one to break it to her, but she’s a runner!)
After our group introductions Sage told us a little bit about herself and her background with yoga, can you believe she basically hated yoga after her first couple of classes?! Lucky for us she eventually had a better experience and stuck with it! We finished up the night with a short stretching practice on the floor – I could tell already I was going to love practicing with Sage!
Between Saturday and Sunday we had three program sessions scheduled, Saturday 9:30am-12:30pm focused on strength, 2:45-4:45pm was yin and restorative yoga and Sunday morning 9:30-11:30am was flexibility. Since there is way to much information to share all of it I’m just going to highlight a few of my favorite things we learned, how I plan on applying them to my practice and where you can find more information on them.
The Importance of Recovery
Many athletes are “type A” personalities (of course they are – that’s why they’re so competitive!) and are hardwired to want to go through their training full speed ahead at all times. Our bodies work in cycles, and it’s important to find a balance between work and rest that will ultimately allow you to access your full potential. (I’ll admit this is not a problem I have, I am more than happy to take
lazy recovery days during my training!)
Sage’s book The Athlete’s Guide to Recovery covers everything from determining the amount of rest/ recovery you should be doing to different recovery techniques. I’m working my way through this book now and find the information so interesting!
The Six Movements of the Spine
Our spine is our foundation, so naturally it makes sense to take some time to focus on it! Sage had us start each practice by working on the spine’s range of motion by doing what she called “the six movements of the spine”. These movements can be a number of different yoga poses, but it’s important to address each direction: extension (backbend), flexion (forward bend), side bends left and right and twists to each side.
The six movements of the spine is something I’ll definitely be conscious of incorporating in my own practice and when I teach! You can find short warm-ups with the six movements of the spine in The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga.
Parking Lot Yoga
So many types of yoga…Vinyassa, Kripalu, Bikram, Ashthanga, etc. and now Sage brings us Parking Lot Yoga!
Ok, so parking lot yoga isn’t exactly a new type of yoga, but it’s a series of poses that Sage has put together specifically for athlete’s that got it’s name because it’s meant to build heat and warm the muscles and it can be done right in the parking lot before a run or workout! (It’s great for a parking lot because it doesn’t involve any sitting or having to put your hands down on the ground!) I am definitely going to use this for myself and when teaching yoga to other athletes, it’s just a nice short sequence that really anyone can learn and incorporate in to their training!
The parking lot yoga sequence is actually going to be included in the February issue of Runner’s World (which should be out any day!) so I’ll be sure to share the link to it as soon as it’s available!
I can’t tell you enough how much I enjoyed this experience! I learned a lot and really enjoyed getting to practice with Sage, she was really nice, very funny and a wonderful yoga teacher. Being the total dork that I am I had her sign my books for me before I left (yup, all of them!).
I’m really hoping to eventually do Sage’s weeklong Teaching Yoga to Athlete’s program that she hosts twice each year, once at Kripalu and once at her studio in North Carolina. In the meantime I’ll be digging through all the information in her books and practicing “with” her through her online classes on YogaVibes!
I’d love to know: do you incorporate yoga into your training and has it helped? do you have a favorite yogi or yogini you’d love to have the chance to practice with?
As always, happy to answer any questions about yoga or my Yoga for Athlete’s weekend!