Category Archives: Yoga

My Running + Yoga Story

The running came before the yoga. And let me start off by telling you that my running journey wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. I HATED running up until my sophomore year in college, even though I played soccer and basketball for many years. I viewed running as punishment. Something that happened when we messed up in practice and a way to put myself down by comparing myself to others. In college, this all changed. I began to run just for me. Not to be faster or in shape for my sport, but because I wanted to be healthier. Little did I know that it would teach me how to love myself.

The Sanskrit word, Ahimsa, do not harm, is a common expression you hear in the yoga world. That’s why some yogis turn to vegetarianism. However, an incredibly powerful meaning of this expression is to not only avoid harm to others but to be kinder and more compassionate with ourselves. Throughout my youth and teenage years I most definitely did not abide by this principle. I turned to putting myself down as motivation to be my best self; thinking the meaner I got the more I would be able to push myself. The opposite happened. I just began to hate myself more.

Once I began to run for myself, those miles began to be the time where I was able to actually gain perspective. I was able to see how awful I treated myself. I imagined saying what I was saying to myself to a friend. It was horrifying. I watched my reactions when I couldn’t run as fast or as far or when I surprised myself and ran my best. I also began to see my determination and my strength, both of which I never knew existed. I was relentless to run when it was cold, raining and/or snowing. I did not let the weather or things outside of my control deter me from my goal or from doing what I desired for myself.

My most enlightened moment came when I ran my first marathon, the Philadelphia Marathon in November of 2005. The farthest distance race I had run before taking on training was 10 miles and it was quite a trip for me to cover distances and speeds my old self would have never thought was possible. Crossing that finish line was a life-changing experience. I found a love for myself that I never thought could exist. After years of self-hate, self-doubt, and negativity, my running and marathon training allowed me to connect me to my best self, for I had done something I thought I could never do. AND I DID IT. I, without a doubt, would not be where I am today without this experience.

Fast forward five years and seven marathons later. My body grew tired and injured. I was completely burned out. My running high and confidence I gained through running were weaning. I needed something else. I couldn’t rely on the miles, the quest for personal records, and race accolades as methods to love myself.  I was desperate to find a way to connect with myself again. That’s when yoga came into my life.

After years of colleagues and friends encouraging me to hit my yoga mat, I finally did. I found the most wonderful teacher at a local gym and fell in love. Through the practice of yoga, I realized I was perfect exactly as I was and I didn’t need a race medal to prove that. I was able to watch, listen, and practice Ahimsa in a whole new way. Trust me, this process took YEARS and is still something I still have to practice and remind myself. Now ten years+ into practicing yoga, I have learned that I don’t just have to be on my mat to practice this. I can do it when I’m trying to put my 7-month-old daughter to sleep, when I’m trying to get a stroller, a baby and dog down 2 flights of stairs to go for a walk, when I get down on myself because I feel like a did an awful job teaching a class, when I yell at my husband, and when I feel like I’m not doing enough as a yoga teacher, mom, friend, and wife. Yoga is everywhere and is a way of being mindful; paying attention on purpose without judgment (definition by Jon Kabat-Zinn in Wherever You Go There You Are).

Running and yoga have changed my life. They have allowed me to discover and love myself in a whole new way; to see and feel my determination and strength both through movement and in stillness. To be comfortable with the uncomfortable and to get real with things that are very hard in my life. Especially now as a new mom, they have been game changers for how I practice self-care. The more I can watch, listen, and empower myself, the better I am for the most important job I will ever have, being a mom.

Being a human is hard. It’s easy to hate. It’s easy to judge ourselves. I encourage you to find something, whether that’s running and/or yoga or not, that allows you to be more compassionate with yourself. Self-compassion always wins.

With love,
Cara

 

 

RunYoga Mini Series via Facebook Live!

The 2018 RunYoga Winter series has officially kicked off and to share the RunYoga love with those who can’t join us, I’m excited to host a Facebook live mini series! You can join me every Tuesday afternoon until the beginning of April between 1 and 3pm for a short 15/20 minute yoga for runners sequence.

I’ll be posting the links to all the videos below each week so you have them for reference and can do them at a later time. Excited for you all to join me! Let me know what you think!

With love,
Cara

RunYoga Session #1 video: Yoga for Runners Overal Practice
An overall yoga for runners flow by stretching the quads, hips, chest and hamstrings. We also explore some fun forearm plank fun!

RunYoga Session #2 video: Strength + Standing Balances
This flow will strengthen not only your quads + your hips but your mind! Get ready to move with some standing balance postures and core exercises.

RunYoga Session #3 video: Deep Stretch + Chill Flow
Longer holds and sweet stretches for this practice. Perfect to do post hills, speed work or just when you want to chill out.

RunYoga Session #4 video: IT Band/Outer Hip Flow
Are your hips feeling cranky? This flow will warm up, strengthen and then stretch out those hips; giving them the love that they need! Feel free to move through this practice post-run, on an off day or for cross training.

RunYoga Session #5 video: Quad + Hamstring Stretchy Flow
This practice is perfect post run or workout. It will stretch all the right places, especially those quads and hamstrings. This sequence feels so so good!

RunYoga Session #6 video: Yoga for Runners Core Flow
Our form is an essential part of our running practice. Without proper form, we can waste a lot of energy and also put ourselves at risk for injury. In this practice, we will work core strengthening movements through ab exercises and twists as well as chest/shoulder openers which will help us maintain good running form. There are also some sweet stretches for the hips and hamstrings. Enjoy!

RunYoga Session #7 video: Happy Hips!
Part 1: Beginning + Main Portion of Class
Part 2: Cool down + shavasana
An awesome practice to do if your hips are feeling cranky and are in need of some love! This sequence will first warm up the body through core work and a little hip strengthening and then will move into some great feel good hip opening postures.

RunYoga Session #8 video: Strength + Stretch
A perfect practice to do post-run or on a strength training day. This flow will move through several one-legged standing postures that will test hip stability and strength; essential for our running. As always, expect some core work and some great stretches for a nice balanced practice.

RunYoga Session #9 video: Chill + Stretch Practice
The perfect practice to do after a hard work out or when your exhausted and are in need of rest and recovery. Breathe, stretch and enjoy!

RunYoga Session #10 video: Stretch + Flow
A more vinyasa style yoga for runners practice. Postures are held for 3 to 5 rounds of breath and incorporate strength + stretch for both the body and mind. Get ready to move and breathe freely

Fall into the Running Groove

Fall is almost here! The crisp, cool air is on the way and so is running season! To get you back into the running groove, here are some tips and motivation to get you up and running!

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1.DO YOGA:  We forget that our strength doesn’t just come from our body, it comes from all parts of ourselves; including our minds and our hearts. Yoga will give you tools to control the hardest part, our mind. It will provide that extra inspiration to feel connected to your running and lastly, it will make you physically stronger and more flexible to keep those injuries away. It’s time to unroll that yoga mat and get started! Here are some specific classes and events that are for runners.

> RunYoga Fall Edition: 8 Mondays; starting September 12th
> Yoga + Running 3-Day Immersion at Kripalu: September 25th to 30th
> Yoga for Runners Weekly Class: Sundays, 12:45pm at JP Centre Yoga
> Yoga with Cara Gilman App: Download in the Apple Store
Classes + events with Cara Gilman
New to yoga? Here are some tips.

2. Be mindful: Meditation is a powerful way of completely changing up your running game. My biggest advice, make it simple. Define 1 word that inspires you to run. Sit down in a quiet space (recommend sitting against a wall and on a pillow or blanket), set your iphone timer for 5 minutes, close your eyes and GO! You might find that your mind will want take over. Let it happen. Observe what’s happening and learn from it. Keeping breathing and repeating that word to find focus. Do this same process when you’re running. This practice will allow you to tame the negative self talk and give you that extra boost of inspiration while you run.

3. Balance Your Training: Practice and repetition is key to getting faster, however it’s important to not overdo it. On average, 62% of runners suffer from injury which is most often caused by doing to much (i.e. running too many miles). It’s important to balance your training with cross training (yoga, spinning, biking, swimming). I’ve found that running 3 or 4 times a week and practicing yoga 3 or 4 times a week is the perfect balance for me. This will allow you to get the necessary miles in without burning your body and mind out.

4. Rest up. Rest is a key component of training that we always forget about. It allows our physical body to rebuild itself so we can get stronger and lets our mind take a break from grind. Yoga Nidra is a great tool I learned while I was in India. Yoga Nidra, also called “yoga of divine sleep” and is awesome for grounding your energy down for mid day nap or before bed. I’m working on creating an audio file of this as we speak, but in the meantime, check out “Insight Timer App” via the Apple Store. It’s a free app and they have lots of ones to choose from.

5. Shake things up! If you live in Boston, there are so many ways to get your miles in besides running the same route over and over again by yourself. Especially is you’re looking to get faster times, I recommend integrating speed workouts (intervals, tempo runs, mile repeats), hill repeats and running with people! This will drastically change your running game. Here are some groups, that I would recommend running with:

Mondays:
> Forest Hill Runners at 6am + 7pm
> November Project (workout varies) at 6:30am
> RunYoga Series at 6 to 8pm

Tuesdays:
> Nike Club track workout at Ruggles Indoor Track at 6:30am
> RunFellow Club at 6pm

> RunBase on Boylston Street at 6:30pm
> Forest Hill Runners at 7pm Tempo Run

Wednesdays:
> November Project (Stadium workout) at 5:30am/6:30am
> Marathon Sports Run Club at Boylston Street at 6:30pm
> Brighton Bangers at 7pm

Thursdays:
> Forest Hill Runners Ttrack workout at 7pm
> RunBase on Boylston Street at 6:30pm

Fridays:
> November Project (hills in Brookline) at 6:30pm

        Saturdays:
        > Brighton Bangers at 9:30am
        > Forest Hill Runners

 

 

Take Your Yoga Paddleboarding!

This past weekend, my husband and I road-tripped it to the Catskills to my in-laws vacation home to get in some family time as well as some R & R. We spent the weekend hanging with the family/celebrating my niece’s first birthday, sleeping in, napping, watching movies, feasting on local amazing food, reading and also paddleboarding.

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I’m relatively new to paddleboarding and made it my mission to dedicate some serious time to get comfortable with the board. Here are some quick tips for those beginners out there:

  • Be light on your feet
  • Stand with your feet a little bit wider than hips distance
  • Focus on standing tall and activating your core
  • For a little bit more power, feel free to bend your knees a bit as you paddle
  • To get the “fear of falling” jitters out, practice standing up and sitting down on the board.

Once I got into my groove, I decided to do some yoga. Here’s a sequence that’s perfect for beginners, great for core strength and most importantly, it’s fun and playful! Hold each pose for 5 rounds of breath. Enjoy!

WARM-UP

Downward Dog to Plank to Downward Dog (repeat 3 times)

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Low lunge

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1/2 Split

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Lizard Lunge (two variations, on hands or forearms)

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Forearm Plank

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Plank

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Downward Dog

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REPEAT OTHER SIDE 

SUN As With MALSANA VARIATION

Downward Dog

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Plank

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Step to Malsana (yogi squat)

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Fold

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Tadasana

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Fold

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Flat Back
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Plank

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Chaturanga

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Upward Dog

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Downward Dog

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REPEAT 2 to 4 TIMES

STANDING POSES

Downward Dog

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Low lunge with Side Bend

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Runners Lunge Open Twist

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Warrior 2

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Lizard Lunge (2 variations, hands down or arms down)

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Dolphin

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Forearm Plank

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Baby Crow

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Childs Pose

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REPEAT OTHER SIDE

PEAK POSE/BACK BENDS

Hero with Eagle arms (both sides)

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Crow

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Camel

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Childs Pose

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Post Run Yoga: 5 Poses for You

Stretching after a run or any cross training workout is essential. It’s not always what we want to do after a run, but it’s a must. It will help with your flexibility (which will then help with your running form) and it will keep those nagging injuries away that are result of chronic tightness in the muscles.

This is where yoga comes it. This yoga sequence will stretch all the areas you need post run in just 5 poses that are easy to remember. So much more fun then just “stretching” 🙂 Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Make sure you hold each pose for 10 to 20 breaths which is around 1 to 2 minutes. You can also add core work into the mix as well. I’ve added a note below of where you could add it in.

1. Low lunge (hips)
Keep the back toes tucked under to also stretch out your back quad. You can add a side bend to get deeper into the hip flexor and stretch out the side body.

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2. Quad Stretch (quads)
Feel free to place a block under the hand on the floor and also a block or towel under the back knee. If you’re still not able to grab your foot you can use a strap.

 

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3. Half Split (hamstrings)
Make sure to keep your hips lifted so they’re in line with your back knee. This might require you to walk the front foot a little farther forward. Keep front foot flexed and maybe even grab front foot if you like to also feel a stretch in your calf. 

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4. Lizard lunge (hips)
Make sure both hands are inside of the foot and the knee is over your ankle. Drop the hips forward and slide your back knee back a couple inches. If this comes easy to you, bring your forearms down on blocks or to the floor.
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Option to add forearm plank here 🙂
Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Make sure hips are lifted so they’re in line with your shoulders. Engage quads, let your tail bone drop and engage your lower belly.

5. Childs Pose
Feet come together and knees come all the way to the edges of your mat. Feel free to place a block or pillow under your hips if you’re having a hard time having them lower to the ground.

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REPEAT OTHER SIDE

Cross Training Yoga Video for Runners

I’m so excited to share this video with you! I had the honor of shooting this video for DreamFar, a local non-profit organization that trains high school students to run marathons. Their emphasis is not on time or pace but allowing students to realize they can accomplish anything they put their minds to. Any runner who has run a marathon knows how powerful this gift of confidence is and I was thrilled when Dream Far approached me to help their runners get their yoga game on!

This video was created as a cross training option for their runners and is also a video that I can share with you! It’s a 45 minute yoga video that will build strength in your legs and core but will also provide a great stretch for your hamstrings, quads, ITs and chest. A great option for strength training after a run or a cross training option on a non-running day. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

WATCH THE VIDEO

Cheers & Namaste!
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6 Yoga Poses to Give Your Feet Some Love

Whether you’re a runner, yogi or just someone at their desk all day, it’s important to give your feet some love! Here’s some yoga poses that incorporates simple stretches for the feet to wake them up.

Childs Pose with Toes Tucked Under
This pose is not only restorative but a great way to open up the lumbar spine, gives the hips a nice stretch and with this variation, it will wake up your feet up as well.

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Downward Dog Heel Pulses
If you’ve attended any of my yoga classes, this is something I always integrate as part of the sequence I’m teaching. It’s great for getting the feet active and also an awesome stretch for your calves.

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Table Top Calve Stretch
This is another one that’s not only great for waking up the feet but the calves as well.

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Broken Toe Pose
Warning, this pose is intense. I would recommend holding for 3 rounds of breath and then adding in more time as you practice it. They don’t call it broken toe pose for nothing! 🙂

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Half Squat
Great for building strength in the quads and also finding balance on your feet. You can add in some prayer twists to each side to add in some heat.

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Savasana with Feet on Blocks
Not a pose that will stretch out the feet, but it will give them some extra love, especially if you have been on your feet all day or your feet are feeling achy after a long run or hard workout. Lay on your back, place a block under each heel and enjoy!

 

 

Wake Up those Glutes!

Inspired by the New York Times article, When the Diagnosis Is ‘Dead Butt Syndrome, I decided to put together a yoga sequence focused on building strength in the glutes. The glutes are a powerhouse for our running by allowing us to forward in space, stablizing our hips and preventing injury. As Dr. Darrin Bright, a sports medicine physician with Riverside Methodist Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, states in this article, 

“A new thought in running medicine is that almost all lower extremity injuries, whether they involve your calf, your plantar fascia or your iliotibial band, are linked to the gluteus medius. In the last five to 10 years, we’ve just realized how much of an important role the gluteus medius plays in stabilizing the hips and the pelvis in running.”

A image that the article illustrates is to imagine the pelvis as a cup and the muscles that attach to it are your glutes and your lower abs. If one or more of these muscles are weak, it puts pressure on the muscles right around the hip which can result in muscle tears, inflammation and scar tissue to develop. If the muscles are strong, the cup is able to stay in place with no consequences.

So it’s time to strengthen those glutes and wake them up! Here’s a short 20 minute yoga sequence designed to not only develop glute strength but also provide strength work to your quads, lengthening to your hamstrings and stretching for your hips. Hold each pose (unless otherwise noted for 5 rounds of breath). Enjoy and happy running!

WARM UP 

Downward Dog (10 rounds of breath)

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Plank pose (hold 10 rounds of breath) to Downward dog, repeat 3 times

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3 rounds of sun salutations to warm-up the body
(tadasana, fold, flat back, plank, low push-up, upward dog, downward dog)

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STRENGTH WORK 

Chair pose
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Warrior 3
Keep standing leg knee deeply bent to work quads.

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Bring leg back into chair position without putting the foot down. Then extend leg back to warrior 3 with bent knee. Repeat 15 times.

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Step back to Crescent pose
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Open to Warrior 2
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Reverse Warrior

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Triangle Pose

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Fold in Pyramid (hold 10 breaths)

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Standing Split (bend standing leg knee if hamstring is tight)

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Standing Split Glute pulses
Tap knee behind standing leg knee and make sure both legs are bent. Repeat 15 times.
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Cross ankle forward fold

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Step back to plank 

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Repeat other side

COOL DOWN

1/2 pigeon pose

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Side Forward Bend
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Forward fold
To keep spine long, keep moving chest forward.

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Supine twist

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Legs up the wall for savasana

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Yoga in Under 15 Minutes

Get your yoga on in just under 15 minute with this yoga sequence. This flow will challenge your core, will generate heat with some twisting poses and will also stretch out your quads, hips and your IT bands. Perfect post-workout, to get your day started or to get a movement break into your day. Enjoy!

WATCH VIDEO

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Yoga for Athletes Flow: 20 Minute Sequence

Calling all runners and athletes! I have a short sequence for you that you can do after any workout. It will open the chest and shoulders, build strength in your core and will lengthen those achy hips and hamstrings.

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Don’t sell yourself short by skipping out. Remember, yoga sequences like these will keep those nasty injuries away and will allow you to perform better. For more yoga sequences like these, check out one of my Yoga for Runners classes at JP Centre Yoga and Back Bay Yoga or enjoy doing some more of these yoga sequences via this blog. Enjoy!

WATCH THE VIDEO

Yoga Sequence:
All poses in the video are listed below. Hold each pose for 3 to 5 rounds of breath (unless otherwise noted below)

– Puppy pose
– Forearm plank (10 rounds of breath)
– Spinx
– Salabasana
– Table Top
– Thread the Needle to each side

– Downward Dog
– 3 Leg Downward Dog, Roll hip open
– Knee to elbow pulses
– Step to Low Lunge
– Eagle arms in Low Lunge
– Open the arms and interlace hands behind lower back
– Place hand down to inside of front foot and grab back foot
– Runner’s Lunge Open Twist
– 1/2 Split
– 1/2 split to Low Lunge Pulses
– Skandasana (do on only one side)
– Plank pose
– Salabasana/Upward Dog
– Downward Dog
– Repeat to other side

At Wall:
– Quad stretch (both sides, hold for at least 5 to 10 rounds of breath)

– Table top
– 1/2 Pigeon Pose (hold for at least 5 to 10 rounds of breath)
– Side forward bend (hold for at least 5 to 10 rounds of breath)
– Side forward fold (hold for at least 5 to 10 rounds of breath)
– Repeat other side

At Wall:
– Forward fold (feet against wall)
– Legs up the wall (5 minute savasana)