Trading In My Running Shoes for a Yoga Mat

By Amy Luskey

For many years, I was an endurance athlete; a runner, to be exact.  Sometimes, when I say the words “was a runner,” I shudder, because the words still sting. I did small races, half marathons, neighborhood runs and I even dabbled in triathlons.  

Somewhere in the middle of all of this training, I decided to go to yoga.  I had tried it before but never with any consistency.  I’m not sure what shifted this time, but I went from dreading it to loving it. It was exhilarating, and the fast paced flow, arm balances, inversions and sweat agreed with the endurance athlete inside of me.

 I encouraged everyone I knew to try yoga.  They would roll their eyes and say, “I need a work-out.  Yoga is too gentle,” and I would reply, “You’re mistaken my friend!”  During this time, I was still training for races, but instead of flaring up occasionally, aches and pains were becoming the norm.  To my disappointment,  I found myself spending time and money on physical therapy.  I was in a vicious cycle of training, injury, recovery, followed by training, another injury, recovery.  Sadly, the time between injuries was becoming shorter and shorter.

By this time, I was on my mat about 4-5 days per week, and I began to notice a shift. A shift from deep inside me, in my head and in my heart.  Little by little the messages my teachers were expressing were sinking into my soul.  Just like that,  a light bulb went off, and I realized this thing called yoga was way more than a physical workout;  it was a spiritual (not religious) awakening for me.  It tapped into an emptiness I had been aware of in my own religion; a concept that I also struggled with.  I met with my Rabbi and explained my dilemma.  He put my mind at ease and said that I was on a “spiritual journey”.  

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Over time, Istopped running.  There was certainly a grieving process I went through, and every time Isaw someone running there was an ache in my heart.   Slowly, as I listened to my body and honored it, the heartache tapered off.  

Fast forward to today and I am a cerified yoga teacher.  I took off my running shoes and replaced them with my yoga mat.  Yoga has given me so many gifts, and I know from my own personal experience that this gift is available to anyone.  All you have to do is unwrap it little by little.