I’ve been a devotee of yoga for seven years now. It’s a required pastime for West Coasters, a stamp you need on your passport should you decide to live here. You need to know the difference between Ashtanga and Hatha, know whether you like Bikram’s or not, and have a favorite studio, as baseline requirements.
But there are drawbacks. It can be expensive – $2o a class equals my entire coffee budget for the week; time consuming – getting to my favorite studio is a 30 minute journey, making an hour long class takes a minimum of two hours, and I worry about the strain on the environment since I need to drive there.
Once there, it is a crap shoot whether I have a plum spot by a window, or am wedged into a corner next to smelly guy who clearly does not believe in deodorant, or bathing, making the entire experience unpleasant no matter how fantastic the instructor.
Yet the benefits are huge – unless I happened to be wedged in the corner next to smelly guy, I inevitably float out of class, my whole being feeling relaxed yet stronger then when I entered the room, my mind quieted (I don’t reach a meditative state necessarily, but as close as I can come, definitely a stiller state). My posture has improved immeasurably, now when I am mad or stressed I feel my shoulders creep up next to my ears, so I breathe and bring them down – tiny yoga postures used in everyday life. Opening my hips has drastically reduced my running injuries. Even the mantras take their toll eventually, although that took a long time for me: take the best pose you can for this day, recognizing that each day is different.
Hands down, I would prefer to do a yoga class than receive a massage, so that’s saying something.
But pressed for time and money, as we all are, it’s hard to justify doing as much yoga as I would like. So I’ve taken to unfurling my mat at home and doing free yoga podcasts on iTunes. I get the benefits of a fantastic class in a fraction of the time and at a greatly reduced cost (free is the right price for me).
I’ve found an instructor I love – Elsie Escobar – she is quirky yet incredibly knowledgeable. I tend to gravitate towards people who don’t take themselves too seriously, and Elsie is exactly that. She often has a great life message in the beginning, but if I’m really in a hurry I fast forward to the beginning of the practice. And (sorry Yogi’s, you may not want to read my next sentence) if in a really big rush, I don’t do savasana. There is nothing worse than lying in savasana and making lists of all the things you could be doing if you could just get off this mat.
There are hundreds of podcasts listed, so you can easily do a different one each time, although I certainly have my favorites that I return to on a regular basis.
And best of all: no smelly guy to worry about. Long live yoga podcasts.
My friend was cataplectic.
“You do NOT run with an iPod!”
Oh yes, I do, I assured her. “Even in races?” she asked dubiously. Especially in races, I told her. In fact, I credit my fantastic playlist for getting me to the finish line in a personal best time in a recent marathon.
It’s my way of multitasking. I love listening to music, but rarely get a chance to blare my favorite tunes in our house, since it just adds to the noise level, which is already at a considerable decibel. And Eminem‘s lyrics are not family friendly.
I know what arguments those opposed to running with iPods use: music distracts you from concentrating on the task at hand – which is precisely why I listen to it; music detracts people from conversing with you – again, precisely, although I hasten to add I don’t play it too loudly, so I can easily hear my fellow runners coming up behind me and have brief conversations, and listening to music takes away the serenity of the running experience - in my case, I’d argue it enhances the serenity.
But the invention of the iPod (or other MP3 players, but who’s kidding who? I’m a Mac fan.) changed my running career. I had become bored with running, finding it harder and harder to motivate myself to get out there, particularly on cold, wet days when I probably most needed the endorphins.
Equipped with my little green Nano, however, I loaded all sorts of playlists – different ones for speed work, long runs, rainy days, reflective days, blue days, hyper days, races – and away I go. I’m always particularly keen to get out there if I’ve worked on a new, killer playlist.
The key to a great playlist is to intersperse different genres of music with different tempos. I know some people like a steady, driving beat the entire time, but that becomes white noise to me. I prefer to mix in some slower tunes at various points, so as to better appreciate the upbeat songs when they land.
Here is my current favorite playlist, ideal for an hour and half trail run.
Ready to Start – Arcade Fire
Just A Dream – Nelly
Radioactive – Kings of Leon
Gimme Sympathy – Metric
Feel it in my bones 4:53 Tiestro feat. Tegan and Sara
Airplanes – B.o.B (Feat. Hayley Williams)
Moves – The New Pornographers
Kids – MGMT
Stereo Love – Edward Maya ft. Alicia
Back In Your Head – Tegan and Sara
Take a Minute – Knaan
Dead Disco - Metric
Poster Of A Girl – Metric
Cocaine Cowgirl – Matt Mays & El Torpedo
Rebellion – Arcade fire
Love The Way You Lie – Eminem (feat Rihanna)
Pyro – Kings of Leon
Hell - Tegan And Sara
Suburban War – Arcade Fire
Shine 4U - Carmen and Camille
Electric Feel – MGMT
The Suburbs – Arcade Fire
Soft Rock Star - Metric
Standing on the Shore – Empire of the Sun
How can you not love running with such amazing tunes in your ears?