Yoga: Stretching for the Finish Line

Yoga: Stretching for the Finish Line

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What helps this Yoga Bar teacher to go the distance? You guessed it — yoga. Read on to see some of this marathoner's favorite postures.

SarahSideAngle
Side Angle (The Yoga Bar; Photographer: Dom Fowler)

Meet Sarah Crabtree. Yoga teacher. Mother to eight-year-old twin boys. Runner of 12 marathons in 12 months.

Sarah Running
Sarah Crabtree

If this sounds crazy to you, it might be because you don’t love running quite as much as Sarah does. Sarah started running at 14 years old and, according to her, it was love at first sprint. “I fell in love with the feeling of accomplishment I would get after a hard track work out. With the way my body would feel tingly and tired yet elated after practice. With the way my mind felt clear and unburdened after a hard run. With the way it seemed to take the edge off when I was mad, or lift me up when I was sad. That’s why I keep running, even today.”

Sarah has been running all these years not for fitness, although that’s a nice perk. For Sarah, running is key to coping with life’s little troubles and tribulations. While she’s always enjoyed the physical challenge, Sarah says running is her coping strategy for crappy days and difficult moments. Sarah says. “Running lifts me up and invigorates me. It helps me feel alive.”

A sprinter in her younger days, Sarah found herself making the transition to distances slowly over time, working her way from five miles to half and then full marathons. She started her marathon career here in Cincinnati, when she ran the Flying Pig in 2011. But in her second marathon, the 2012 Flying Pig, her peace of mind hit against a physical wall. Sarah tore her plantar fascia in her left foot during the race and had to exit at the halfway point. This injury required taking eight weeks off from running entirely.

Like many other competitive spirits, Sarah was restless while injured. She was desperate to find another way to move her body during her recovery, not just to maintain fitness, but to achieve the same mental clarity she had found in running. After a few disappointments with other fitness fads, Sarah Crabtree walked in to an Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga class. “From the very first class I took, I felt physically and mentally challenged in the same way that I did while running.  I also found that same mental clarity that I got from running, but on an even deeper, more profound level.  I was quickly hooked and not only started practicing regularly, but decided that I would pursue my teaching certification as well.”

Over time, Sarah made her way back to distance running, but this time she brought a daily yoga practice in to her training. With the addition of yoga, Sarah noticed that she was stronger and recovered faster from long runs and races. Not only was the plantar fascia pain gone, but she noticed that she was more flexible and had more core strength. She was stronger throughout her body—physically, but also mentally.

“The challenges that I faced on my mat, the breath and mind control that I learned on my mat all started to help me during challenging runs,” Sarah says. “I was seeing more than ever that running and yoga were the perfect compliment to each other and not only that, that I needed both of them as they both give me something slightly different.” While running is invigorating and uplifting, Sarah’s yoga practice is grounding and helps her to find focus. And for Sarah, this focus gives her the competitive advantage.

“Running, like yoga, is as much about developing a strong mental will, as it is about developing a strong body. At a certain point in a race, my body will want to stop. My mind is what gets me to the finish line most days. The satisfaction that comes from meeting that challenge is invaluable.”

Which brings us back to Sarah’s latest challenge: a year of monthly marathons. Noting her struggle with the last 6 miles or so of distance, a friend recommended that she try running marathons more often to help her body and mind get used to it. Sarah loved the idea so much that she dedicated one whole year to trying it out. So far, Sarah has run seven marathons across the eastern seaboard, with just five more to go.

Look for Sarah this weekend at the Flying Pig, number 8 of her 12 marathons this year. Or, add one of her challenging, eye-opening vinyasa classes at either of the two Yoga Bar locations to your training regimen. You might just find that peace of mind you’ve been seeking.

For all of the fellow runners out there, a special treat: Sarah recommends the following yoga postures to stretch the hips in your post-run recovery.

Low Lunge

From Downward Dog or Table, step the right foot forward to the right thumb. Bring hands to rest on the right knee or raise them overhead as shown. Keeping knee stacked over the ankle, press hips forward and down, stretching through left quad and hip. Hold for 5 breaths or up to 1 minute.

Low lunge (The Yoga Bar; Photographer: Dom Fowler)
Low lunge (The Yoga Bar; Photographer: Dom Fowler)

Lizard

From Low Lunge, lower both hands to the ground inside of the right foot and scoot the right foot over near the outward edge of the mat, if using one (3-4 inches over). Lift the left knee and press back through the heel, keeping abs engaged. Hold for 5 breaths or up to 1 minute.

The Lizard pose. (The Yoga Bar; Photographer: Amy Thornley)
The Lizard pose. (The Yoga Bar; Photographer: Amy Thornley)

Revolved Lizard

From Lizard pose, lower the left knee to the ground. Rock onto the outside of the right foot, resting right hand gently on the knee or reaching the arm behind to twist deeper (as shown). Hold for 5 breaths or up to 1 minute. Unwind and transition back to Table or Downward Dog and repeat the sequence on the left side.

Revolved Lizard (The Yoga Bar; Photographer: Dom Fowler)
Revolved Lizard (The Yoga Bar; Photographer: Dom Fowler)
Amy Thornley
Amy Thornley is a writer, yogini, baker, and Content Manager of The Yoga Bar. Amy found yoga in 2001 and from the first moments of deep breathing and guided meditation, her mind and heart were blown wide open. After studying in various cities, Amy finally found her home at the Yoga Bar, completing her 200-hour teacher certification with the Bija Yoga School in 2014. She teaches regularly around town, sharing her kind heart and radiating love in each one of her beautifully led classes. Amy also earned a Bachelor’s of Art in English Literature from the Ohio State University and a Master’s degree in Information Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has now settled happily in Prospect Hill with her husband and fur family. Contact her at amythornley@gmail.com.

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