Kurmasana* on the Run

Written by Kari Kwinn on . Posted in Breathe

*tortoise pose

I used to say I’d only run if something was chasing me.

I've never been compelled to train for a distance event. I’m not an early riser who hits the Manitou Incline before breakfast.

Instead, my husband and I take leisurely three-hour hikes where we observe nature, eat snacks, and admire those headed back from a summit that we, quite happily, may never see.

That's all not to say I haven’t tried to run. I’ve joined runner friends for a casual jog at least a dozen times. And in seventh grade, my misguided attempts at inclusion found me joining the cross-country team in a laughable series of withering withdrawals from daily practice. At least I found out I could run steadily for seven minutes before my lungs would scream for mercy. For better or worse, I’ve given up running as many times as I’ve started running.

Imagine my surprise, then, when one day at the Garden of the Gods I suddenly felt the urge to pick up the pace. I could think of no logical reason and felt no sense of immediate danger. My body just wanted more.

I started with a slow trot, hoping my fellow trailblazers assumed I had been training for an ultra-marathon and my modest pace was a cool down to a couple hours of intense running.

About fifteen minutes into my jog, I realized I wasn’t short of breath. Actually, the only thing I had been doing had been breathing. I thought about how yoga teachers often say “let your movement follow your breath.” I could see now that I’d never done that while running. I had always forced the movement and forgotten the breath.

Let your jog follow your breath. It was a breakthrough.

In seventh grade, the cross-country coach instructed me to take a certain number of steps inhaling, and a certain number exhaling. And I did, every day until I couldn’t run. Maybe his methodology for cross-country race training was sound, but it sure did a number on this racehorse. I was a tortoise in hare mode, and I had sucked wind every day.

Though it would be nice to say I’ve become an avid runner with marathon wins under my belt, it's not the case. I don’t run on a daily basis, I admire the Manitou Incline from a distance, and I will probably never train for a race.

But I do have a new powerful awareness: I can run only as fast as I can breathe. I know now that I can only run alone, because if I try to run with a friend or a podcast, I get pulled away from my internal metronome and have to stop.

For me, running is a lot like yoga: a solitary practice, informed by breath, with no finish line.

The practice of concentration on a single subject is the best way to prevent the obstacles and their accompaniments. ~ Patanjali

headshot tiny2Kari Kwinn, ERYT, RPYT, teaches yoga at cambio yoga in Colorado Springs. She remembers first saluting the sun while ankle-deep in crabgrass outside of her kindergarten classroom. Originally from Fort Collins, she came to Colorado Springs for college and received a BA in anthropology from Colorado College, and a Masters of Nonprofit Management from Regis University. When the bears came in September of 2008 she realized it was time to  start following her own north star. While she thinks bipedalism is grand, she hopes to reintroduce people to all eight limbs of yoga to help them better navigate the sticky web of life.


0 #1 Kari Kwinn 2012-04-06 11:24
Thanks to Marmapoints for sharing this article! I'm so thrilled that we have a local venue to share our yoga wisdom.

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