Sunday, March 20, 2011

Going the Distance 3.20.11


In Lady Yoga fashion, it is my goal to look back in history to see where we have come from, find the yoga in the moments past to keep us rooted in the present and passionate about where we are going in the future.

On that note...

On this day last year I was walking to Le Merigot Hotel in Santa Monica to teach a yoga class. It was the day of the 25th running of the LA Marathon and the first year they ended the race one block from my apartment in Santa Monica. I had forgotten about this when I woke up. When I woke up, I heard a loud speaker. I could hear a crowd and cheers. I live alone and instantly felt, NOT alone. There was something about knowing that there were many people awake and aware on a Sunday morning just around the corner from me. There was something about hearing noise and excitement that made ME feel alive. A marathon runner myself, I was instantly thrust into the excitement. I brushed my teeth, made coffee and could actually feel the pulse of excitement beneath my feet. I could feel the pulse of excitement in the air. It was palpable. I’m sure there are a lot of people that don’t understand where I am coming from and many who do. I think for anyone who loves running as much as I do, there is a kinship. But, think about that one thing that you love more than anything. Think about what gets you excited and that is what I mean.

When I use the marathon as a topic in my class on this day, March 20th, 2011, I tell my students that yoga is not just laying out the mat and doing some poses and sweating. Yoga is about feeling connected to what you are doing and connected to others. Running, like yoga, is a very solitary thing, and yet, on race day or when you come to a class, you are in a collective like minded set. You are coming together in union for the passion and love of something.

Running, like yoga, can be very self competitive. You may see the person beside you, pass you, or beside you achieve a posture that you are struggling with, but ultimately, it is you, up against yourself WITH others who are up against themselves.

It’s not really about the full expression of a posture or passing someone on the road, it’s about coming together to accomplish something for yourself. When you accomplish something for yourself, you are able to, in turn, help others accomplish.

It’s impossible not to think that every mile we train or every pose we put our bodies into has a result outside of ourselves. Every time we tie our laces or take a deep breath in and set our intention to practice, we are creating an energy that is pure and good for ourselves and those we come in contact with.

On March 20th, 2011, it was impossible to complain. I did NOT run the marathon. However, I was on lock down, unable to drive anywhere. It was pouring rain and even the unpredictable weather in Boston, never gave me a race day like today. It is rare that it rains in LA. But on March 20th, it rained every way possible. It seemed that the rain came from the ground, from the east, from the west and yes, from the sky. The wind was insane and although, my intent was to go and cheer on the crowds, I allowed myself the opportunity to indulge. I stayed in bed, read and drank coffee. I heard the loudspeaker and the cheers and felt the energy. I felt the excitement. Then I prepared to teach my class. I went out into the wind and the rain and saw the aluminum wrapped runners finishing the race with glazed eyes and smiles and frozen stares of wonder and shock. I congratulated each one of them. They all looked at me with half daggers and half happiness, but I knew. What they accomplished was great. They knew it. I knew it. And in the rain, it makes it even greater. I raced heart-break hill and I understand, but that rain, was just madness and they did it. I arrived at the studio, soaking wet and bursting with energy and excitement. There is nothing to complain about. The city is unprepared for rain and traffic and street closures and people are pissed off and inconvenienced but I am beside myself with happiness and pride because thousands of people did something today that is unbelievable and inspiring. I know, I couldn’t have done it and I’ve run marathons. I’m in awe of every single person that finished in whatever time it took them to finish the race. Whether it was their first marathon or 10th, it is always an amazing accomplishment and if you were around town at the finish line, it was an energy that was impossible to ignore. It fueled me and my teaching. They inspired me.

I love yoga and running. Everyone has their version of yoga.

I feel close to the people who ran the race, because I know how it feels. I asked my students who ran a marathon and a few hands were raised. I asked who had given birth to a child and a few hands were raised. I can’t imagine giving birth to a child but I can only imagine THAT journey. We all have it.

Life is often compared to a marathon. It’s a process of transformation. It isn’t destination. It’s not even journey. Its who you become after you prepare. It’s time and preparation. It’s the building of endurance and the knocking down of walls of fear that afford you and opportunity that is created solely by you. Yes there is a date, a deadline, but YOU have created that opportunity with your one still point focus and intention. YOGA.

Our yoga practice is like a marathon. Sometimes you are in the zone. Sometimes you need to rest. Sometimes you wonder what the heck got you into this. But you are always glad you did it. You are always glad to try your best.

It might not be 26.219 miles, but it is always a lesson in training for the great marathon of life.

What do you run for? What is your race? What is your goal?

The key ingredients are time and preparation of not only the mind but the body and spirit. You have to believe you can do it for the rest to follow. Endurance is a result of that effort.

And, anyone can do it, regardless of age, size or physical limitation. The only thing you need is to believe.

It’s commitment and follow through, accountability and responsibility. It’s accomplishment and celebration.

Let us use the words of great runners and leaders to inspire us on our course today.

Whatever you can do, Or think you can, begin it. Boldness has power, and genius, and magic in it. - Goethe

"Pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity." Michael Johnson

"Tough times don't last but tough people do." A.C. Green

"If the word quit is part of your vocabulary, then the word finish is likely not." - B.G. Jett

“The essential thing in life is not so much conquering as fighting well.” – Baron De Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympic Games

"The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." - Robert Frost

“We will go to the moon. We will go to the moon and do other things, not because they are easy but because they are hard.” - John F. Kennedy, Jr.

"Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head." - Joe Henderson

“To be great, one does not have to be mad, but definitely it helps.” – Percy Cerutty

"If one can stick to the training throughout the many long years, then will power is no longer a problem. It's raining? That doesn't matter. I am tired? That's besides the point. It's simply that I just have to." - Emil Zatopek

”I'm a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” - Thomas Jefferson

"Relentless Forward Motion!" - Tom Riley

"Everyone who has run knows that its most important value is in removing tension and allowing a release from whatever other cares the day may bring." - Jimmy Carter

"Runners just do it - they run for the finish line even if someone else has reached it first." - Author Unknown

"The obsession with running is really an obsession with the potential for more and more life." - George Sheehan

"A runners creed: I will win; if I cannot win, I shall be second; if I cannot be second, I shall be third; if I cannot place at all, I shall still do my best." - Ken Doherty

"There are clubs you can't belong to, neighborhoods you can't live in, schools you can't get into, but the roads are always open." - Nike

"The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are." - Marcus Aurelius

"The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word 'crisis.' One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger - but recognize the opportunity." - John F. Kennedy, Jr.

"Some of the world's greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible." Doug Larson

"If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you've got to go all the way."

- Lance Armstrong

"Anybody can do just about anything with himself that he really wants to and makes his mind to do. We are capable of greater than we realize." - Norman Vincent Peale, author

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it." - Oprah Winfrey, talk show host and marathon finisher

The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win. –Sir Roger Bannister

The marathon is not really about the marathon, it's about the shared struggle. And it's not only the marathon, but the training.
- Bill Buffum

Concentrate on small segments of your race at a time. For example, rather than obsessing about the distance that remains, simply complete the next mile in good form...try another, then another, until the race is done.
- Jerry Lynch

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.” Steve Roland Prefontaine

“Being a runner means you are now "free" to win and lose and live life to its fullest.” Bill Rodgers

Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion. The potential for greatness lives within each of us. –Wilma Rudolf

"Man imposes his own limitations, don't set any" -Anthony Bailey

"Human beings are made up of flesh and blood, and a miracle fiber called courage" -George Patton

The greatest pleasure in life, is doing the things people say we cannot do. - Walter Bagehot

Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.- Confucius

All it takes is all you got. -Marc Davis

The five S's of sports training are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit;

but the greatest of these is Spirit. -Ken Doherty

Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors.

Try to be better than yourself. -William Faulkner

You have a choice. You can throw in the towel, or you can use it to wipe the sweat off of your face. -Gatorade

Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do.

Attitude determines how well you do it. -Lou Holtz

When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. -Theodore Roosevelt

It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness. -Seneca

Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can. -Lowell Thomas

Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed. -Booker T. Washington

Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it you will land among the stars - Les Brown

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances. -Thomas Jefferson

"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going." - Jim Ryun

“Now bid me run, and I will strive with things impossible.” – Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

What do I run for? I run for my dad.

I love you,


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