THE YOGA MADE FOR RUNNERS SYSTEM
HOW IT WORKS
“It is amazing to me that we can be simultaneously completely preoccupied with the appearance of our own body, and at the same time completely out of touch with it as well.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., Full Catastrophe Living
YMFR was born from my own experiences as a runner after seeing and experiencing the unnecessary and sometimes debilitating injuries that runners sustain while running for fun or training for competition.
One of the central tenets of YMFR is that injuries are not an inevitable part of recreational or competitive running, and my goal is for you to use the YMFR system to enjoy a long and healthy athletic career.
The one-dimensional nature of running promotes imbalance in the body’s musculature, leading to chronically tight muscles and compressed, over-stressed joints. At first glance, running and yoga would seem to have little in common. Running shortens and contracts, yoga lengthens and expands; running spends the body’s resources and breaks it down, yoga builds and rejuvenates the body; running is one-dimensional, promoting imbalance and asymmetry in the body, yoga is multi-dimensional, it promotes balance, symmetry and wholeness; running promotes lightness in the mind and body, while yoga grounds, centers and focuses our bodies and minds. Three important concepts form the foundation of YMFR:
- The need to build a strong, supple and open physical body.
- The need to train the mind to be fully aware and completely present.
- The need for embodiment, or our ability to actually exist in rather that apart or outside of our bodies.
Runner’s Yoga will open our tight, injury-prone bodies and make us supple and strong. And like all of the ancient eastern “body” disciplines, yoga is first and foremost about training the mind by using the body as a vehicle for physical, spiritual and psychological enlightenment. This is what the YMFR system is all about.
Knowing how to stay injury free is a key element of any successful running program. Whether you run twice per week for fun and fitness or you’re training to win the Boston Marathon, injury resistance and bio-mechanical efficiency are two important factors runners must address.As much as anything, these will determine not just your level of success, but ultimately your enjoyment of running. Practicing Mike’s YMFR system will actively develop effective and efficient movement in your body’s musculo-skeletal system. This is achieved by focusing on the six building blocks of the YMFR practice: stability, mobility, breath, body awareness, posture and balance. In a YMFR class or DVD, these six factors represent the essence of the YMFR system. This will allow you to develop the most efficient and bio-mechanically sound body for running possible.
Running injuries are a physical and psychological blow to our system. If you do get injured there’s small consolation in the fact that you have plenty of company, because one of the sad facts of running is that lots of people get hurt. If running injuries were a communicable disease, they would easily qualify as a pandemic.This is where yoga comes in. The YMFR system is an incredibly effective therapeutic tool for rehabilitating running injuries. A crucial, but often overlooked part of the healing process is maintaining strength, flexibility, body weight and cardiovascular fitness while waiting for the injury to heal. But simply resting an injury is not sufficient. Because tissue injuries will not return to their original, optimal functioning on their own after a injury, full and proper rehabilitation is essential to avoid re-injury. Re-injury can result if the tissue has not been strengthened or other related physical factors have not been addressed. The YMFR system applies a therapeutic touch not just to the injured area, but the entire body, developing a strong, injury-resistant body that will enable you to achieve your fitness goals. One important caveat: I don’t recommend yoga for most new running injuries – soft tissue injuries in particular – at least within 72 hours of becoming hurt. If you are injured, get an assessment from a qualified expert if you think it’s necessary (but please read this excellent N.Y. Times article for a take on that). Otherwise, allow the injury to calm down, perhaps applying R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevation) to the injured area. One injury where yoga could be appropriate immediately post-diagnosis would be a stress fracture (excluding spinal fractures). YMFR will get you back on your feet and running again, stronger and fitter than before you were hurt.
A basic understanding and awareness of what happens in your body when you run is important to successful running.Having the answer to such key questions as “why did I get injured and how do I get well?” or “why do I repeatedly injure the same part of my body?” will help you understand the effect of running on your body. A YMFR class is, at heart, an educational seminar, where information on movement, anatomy and physiology is shared so the student develops an understanding of the appropriate and efficient functioning of the body. Having the answers to important questions about running and the body will go a long way in helping us enjoy consistent and pleasurable running. This basic knowledge is the first step in building awareness, which is the first step in learning how to steer clear of potential injury, thereby maximizing our running potential.