Having Trouble Meditating? Try My Tips for Keeping Calm
Advice from your Type A runner friend to help you keep calm and carry on without lacing up your running shoes
Four years ago, I didn’t have a meditation practice and I didn’t think I needed one. After all, I had running. And as they say and write on t-shirts:
“Running is cheaper than therapy!”
Pounding the pavement each day provided me with the same benefits that lying on a yoga mat or the grass with my eyes closed supposedly did for my non-runner friends.
Running helped me de-stress, take my mind off my to-do list, and return feeling more energized, focused, and creative. Best of all? I didn’t have to sit still to enjoy these benefits. As someone who was once told by a masseuse to “turn off the hamster” in my head, I don’t do really well with relaxing (THIS Mary Englebreit sketch sums me up pretty well).
Then everything changed.
I was midway through my second marathon race when the unthinkable happened. At mile 14 of the 26.2 mile event, I couldn’t run anymore. My IT-band refused to let me and I had to drop out of the race. I could barely tackle the stairs to my apartment and while I could walk on even ground, my sports medicine doctor said I had to stay away from running for a while.
I was devastated, but I joined a gym to try to get back on my feet as quickly as possible. I figured I’d keep up my cardiovascular fitness by swimming. For some reason, probably because it was included in my membership and my leg couldn’t handle any other classes at the time, I decided to try a yoga class as well.
I hadn’t tried yoga in 6 yrs, because, my first attempt did NOT go well.
It wasn’t my teacher’s fault!
She was super sweet, talented, and a fellow group fitness professional friend. I’d never tried a yoga class at that point. She invited me to join hers on a day when the class was super small. With many of the more advanced yogis out of town for the long weekend, she assured me I’d feel comfortable and she’d have more time to help me make adjustments.
It was the most challenging workout I’d ever done up to that point.
For one, I was not very flexible. I might have been just twenty-one years old at the tome, but I mostly just ran, ran, ran, did a little strength training, and ran some more. At that point, my body didn’t argue with my unbalanced fitness routine. I’d never had an injury.
Then there was the fact that I’m definitely Type A. Slowing down for yoga felt physically and mentally painful!
Unfortunately, if you read the definition for a Type A personality, it was clear that I REALLY needed some yoga in my life.
Type A -
A personality type characterized by ambition, high energy, and competitiveness, and thought to be susceptible to stress and heart disease.
Luckily, my second yoga class went a lot better.
Slowing down for that one hour class and enjoying savasana, final relaxation pose, at the end felt amazing. While I was NOT happy about my running injury, the time I spent in class definitely made the incident feel like a blessing in disguise.
I came back to yoga several times that week and found I began to crave my yoga classes. Not for those hard-for-my-tight-runner-legs poses we had to hold for what seemed like forever, but for savasana!
What once was the most difficult task of a fitness class, lying down and meditating for 5–10 minutes, was now something I felt like I couldn’t live without.
Looking back, it’s no wonder I needed some time to just let my mind slow down those months. I was transitioning from a career as a teacher back to a career in fitness and starting my own fitness company, upset about not being able to run, dealing with some challenging family issues. The list goes on!
While I used to not feel like myself when I missed a run, I now feel the same way when I miss out on yoga!
If you’re a runner who thinks I’ve lost my mind, I hope you’ll give yoga another chance. Start with THIS yoga for runners session one of the talented Fit Armadillo instructors walked me through a few months back. It’s less than 30 minutes long, but it should help you find some calm.
Not a runner?
I highly recommend another one of Kayla’s videos. THIS one shares tips to help you manage stress with yoga through poses and other yoga based strategies you can practice anywhere.
Since falling in love with yoga, I’ve found I really enjoy and need other slower methods of de-stressing to keep calm. My best days come after nights I’ve spent coloring for a few minutes in my adult coloring book, before going to bed.
While I’ll always still turn to running for my therapy and major means of de-stressing, I’m definitely a believer in yoga and its benefits now.
If you’re like me and can’t imagine yourself sitting still and trying a meditation on the grass, I highly recommend a yoga class and THIS amazing instructor! You’ll still get to enjoy meditating, but it will come after you’ve challenged your body. This made all the difference for me!
Do you have a yoga practice? Are you a yogi who had to try the form of fitness more than once before buying into its benefits? Share your thoughts in the comments!
Catherine Basu, MEd is an ACE-Certified personal trainer, the owner of Fit Armadillo®, and author of Superwomen Secrets Revealed: Successful Women Talk About Fitting in Fitness and Dare You to Join Them. She has zero tolerance for diets, supplements, and detoxes and not just because she’s a huge fan of gluten-FULL bread, but lots of love for those new to fitness. An avid runner, she has competed in races from the 1500m to the full marathon, and loves helping others start a running routine.