Marathon Training & Sex: How Yoga Can Help Both (According to Top Yogis)
I've been training for the ING NYC Marathon for a month...
I've given up my weekends for 7AM training runs and surrendered to the aches, pains and insatiable hunger that all come with marathon training. But it hasn't been all torture. I've gained something huge--the opportunity to immerse myself in yoga. My plan was to do a lot of yoga for stretching and pain relief but what I found is that it improved my running performance as well as my romantic life.
The more yoga I did in between my runs, the longer and faster I could run during my training. I definitely felt less sore, physically exhausted and mentally stressed as long as I could fit 2 to 3 yoga sessions into my week. It's been incredible and if I ever run another marathon again after November 4th (this year's ING NYC Marathon date), I will without a doubt train the same way.
So you're probably wondering what all this has to do with SEX...
You might be familiar with Briohny Smyth...and you may have watched some of her SEXY YOGA VIDEOS with her equally agile hubby/yoga partner (both pictured below). Their practice is mesmerizing, enough to make a nun get limber. And after countless hours of marathon training alone, I wondered if maybe I could experience a sliver of the connection shared between Briohny and her beau with my partner.
I like trying new things and I thought it would be a great way to spend time and workout with my boyfriend. I never thought it would add mojo to our relationship...until, OMG, it did! And it's not just about sex. But it certainly changes and enhances sex because you learn to focus on forming and maintaining a connection.
You can't get lazy in couple's yoga and that devotion beautifully carries over into other parts of your relationship. It also reminds you to let go of a lot shit that doesn't need to live between you and your partner--stuff that shouldn't matter but sometimes becomes toxic.
But I shall remind you that I'm not a yoga instructor. I'm just a mere fitness trend expert. And that is why I bring you pointers from NYC's top yoga instructors, the very women that help me become a better runner and a better.... Hmm, I think I'm going to keep that part my little secret.
What NYC's top yoga instructors have to say about enhancing your run and romance performance with yoga:
I sought out April Martucci of FireDragonYoga for my first ever couple's yoga session.
She's a looker so you'll have to accept the fact your boyfriend will be impressed. But once you get over that, you'll love the experience as she guides you through a practice that lets you flow at your own individual speeds but then advances into partnered poses and stretches that you NEVER would have thought of yourself and which you can easily recreate later.
Here's what April told me:
In couples yoga, you need to let the teacher act firmly as the teacher. Often one person (within the couple) usually the female, wants to teach her partner. It creates tension. Only the teacher should teach. Couples need to be open and willing to surrender. The benefits are improved bonding on the mat and beyond.
I'm thinking of taking a little inspiration from April in the pic below...if that's not sexy, I'm not sure what is!
April showed me her favorite yoga poses for marathoners in training. In the pics below on the left, she's doing a quadriceps stretch in lunge with her back foot against a wall to get a deeper stretch. On the right, she's doing a standing hips distance forward fold in which she slides her hands (palm side up) under her feet and stretches the back of her legs as straight as possible.
These 2 stretches improve your running performance because they stretch the hamstrings, the quads, muscles in the back and open up the hips. Muscle tightness and stress from running works its way up your body, so it's important to remember to stretch the top half too! April teaches in NYC at Reebok Sports Club, Sports Club LA and Life In Motion. Take her class or schedule a couple's yoga session here.
Erin Jacques is the reason Exhale New York just hasn't been the same. She left Exhale to start SLT Yoga where I go weekly to flow, shred and get hardcore (names of classes). When I asked Erin for tips on improving my training, this is what she told me:
- Incorporate yoga into your training 2x a week and it doesn't have to be a full class. A few salutations incorporating warriors, a few hip openers, spinal twist and back bends. Even take 10 minutes after a run to do a few yoga stretches, holding each for a minute.
- Learning to breathe properly in yoga will increase running endurance because it increases oxygen within the body which is vital for muscle functioning. Controlled breathing also helps the mind to relax over longer distances.
- Core conditioning is key to creating balance and stability which will increase your running stamina (i.e. Shred at SLT). The more aware you are of engaging you abs the more correct your form will be and you'll take lighter steps. I always keep my head up and look forward when running which forces me to lift my chest and keep proper alignment and abdominal stability.
With regard to partner yoga, Erin says:
Both parties need to be engaged and it requires trust and vulnerability.
Find Erin on SLT Yoga's class schedule or book a private session with your honey!
Kristin McGee is famously "bendi" which even my boyfriend commented on when we took her class together. Not everyone can be as flexible as she is but that's OK because you don't have to be a pretzel to improve your running or sex life with yoga. You just have to do it regularly! Kristin recommends dynamic stretching before your run. That means active moves like sun salutations, warriors, lunges and standing postures. For post-run she recommends static stretches like crescent lunge, pigeon, seated forward bends and passive backbends. She believes marathoners should learn to meditate and says:
Meditation is key to relaxation and stress relief and also helps the body/mind connection so when you are running you can tap in to that steady "breathing in and breathing out" that helps you push past any mental barriers.
Kristin maintains a realistic view on partner yoga (which you don't always have to share a mat for):
I think going to yoga class with your boyfriend or girlfriend is a great way to bond and it's also fun to try some partner stretches together at home. Tapping in to each other's breath is a great way to get closer and more intimate. You form a better connection in the bedroom...but it doesn't have to be kinky or crazy or anything like that. Just going to a class together or experimenting with your new found flexibility once in the bedroom is pretty much as far as couples yoga as I've personally done!
Everything about Sarra Morton is sensual--the way she walks, talks, teaches adjusts your form in class.
So I knew that couples yoga wouldn't be foreign to her. Here's what the beloved Equinox yogi has to say about it:
I have quite a few couples that do private yoga with me. It's not corny at all. More often than not, the female is more advanced than the male. Or it was her idea that he start doing yoga, and she did it with him so he would be less intimidated… But then the guys really start to love it and feel a difference in other activities/sports that they do, which keep them coming back for more. There obviously has to be an element of compromise unless the two students are of equal skill. But, that is usually not a problem. It’s a very sweet way to spend an hour with your partner, and both of you feel great once you’re done.
Sarra also has quite a bit of experience working with runners. Every year she does yoga workshops for marathoners before the big day. Of all the great tips she showered me with for marathon training, these are my favorite:
- Do Balance Poses! Ankle stability is pretty key to everything we do on 2 feet, but it is especially important when it comes to long distance running. If a runner is landing on the inside or outside of their foot, it affects the kinetic chain of the entire leg. In yoga, foot alignment issues become especially obvious when we stand on one leg. We have to figure out where to lift, and where to press in order to keep from falling over. All of that work leads to better ankle stability.
- Do Hip Openers! Always take the time to stretch after running, but be sure to include hip-openers! Single-pigeon, or resting-pigeon (on your back) are great stretches to release tension from being in flexion for so many miles. They should not be done quickly either. Try to stay in the stretch for at least 5 minutes before changing sides. The hips let go gradually as you stay in the pose, so take your time. You'll lose the benefits if you rush through too quickly.
- Try Yoga Tune Up Balls! I use my Yoga Tune Up Balls that my friend, Jill Miller, developed. These balls don’t just massage your feet, they also trigger different pressure points all over your body (including your back). Rolling the balls across your feet, and applying pressure to different parts have varying positive effects on your body that all lead to happy, healthier feet.
For class with Sarra, check out Equinox NYC. She charges $150 for private couple's yoga. Enjoy the sensuality!
What's your take on yoga for marathon training and sexy-time?
Share something without revealing too much...unless you want to! You know I'm all ears and always candid. Share your experience or ask me something and let's get a convo going!