I’ve been running much longer than I’ve been practicing yoga. I started it primarily to lose weight, and then kept it up to stay in shape. Most of that time, I’ve run alone and not in races. I began running with other people a few years ago as part of a volunteer group that partners with homeless shelters. This came to be one of my most fun and most community-oriented activities eve
Running definitely helped get me into shape enough that I was physically prepared for the type of yoga practice that ended up getting me hooked. Of course yoga has eight limbs, the postures and physical practice are only one, but when most of us talk about yoga today we are talking about a physical practice.
As I then began practicing yoga more than running, I still chose a very physically challenging type of practice. When I began running longer distances again, some people were surprised to hear that I went back to running 5, 8, 10 miles at a time – but a 90-minute heated power vinyasa practice prepares you well for this. I’m not fast. I don’t usually cover 10 miles in 90 minutes – but it’s not that much longer.
Running is similar to yoga in that both can be very solitary. Once I started running with a group though, I found that the type of community that can exist among teammates, and runners, is really something. Although I run with the group much less frequently now, I can really say I have running friends… as much as I love yoga, I would not say the same for yoga.
Working with some yoga folks – teachers, a studio owner, some fairly serious practitioners – it’s clear that there are at least some people in yoga who think that running is un-yogic. It’s pretty competitive by nature, and runners do often push themselves and their bodies further than they probably should. I would not disagree with these assessments. When I hear yoga teacher talk about community in yoga, though, I think yoga as it is practiced in the US today has a ways to go in terms of community building compared to running. I think running is not as un-yogic as some yogis think.