A couple of weeks ago, at the invitation of my friends at Lucy activewear, I got totally blissed out the Wanderlust Yoga Festival at Copper Mountain Colorado. Over four days, I did a Yoga TranceDance class with Shiva Rea, an intense detox vinyasa session with Seane Corn, learned about the ancient healing art, Ayurveda, from Rod Stryker and was captivated by a talk by Deepak Chopra talk about how we’re all interconnected.
And of course, as a runner, a special highlight for me was doing a trail running-and-power-yoga class with CorePower Yoga’s Amy Opielowski. Amy hails from San Diego, where she teaches yoga and runs for personal fitness.
The class began with an intense 45-minute trail run on the wooded singletrack snaking around the base of Copper ski area. After a short warmup, we began a series uphill sprints followed by deep lunging squats, then did deep lunging squats while going uphill. After continuing along the trail another half mile, we again stopped for more strengthening drills that got our blood pumping even faster than the running.
Before running back to the yoga venue to being the vinyasa portion of the class, Amy had us stop for a moment and do a mini meditation, during which I soaked up the fresh morning air, listened to my heard pound in my chest and felt my muscles hum with energy.
By the time my eyes opened again, I was relaxed and ready for the fast descent to the CorePower Dome, where Amy put us through an intense core-strengthening series of poses before we finally collapsed into a well-earned shivasana.
After the class, I stuck around to ask Amy a few questions.
Elinor: What came first for you, running or yoga?
Amy: I was a runner and weightlifter first. Before I descovered yoga, running was my meditation. But now, I run less to make more time for yoga, and I’m a more balanced athlete for it.
Elinor: How does yoga help make you a better trail runner?
Amy: Trail running’s varied terrain requires more energy and recruits different muscle fibers than you’d use running on a flat surface. Yoga allows you to target the muscles you need for trail running and make them stronger. Yoga also helps create malleable, flexible muscle, which improves your form, allows you to have a better gait and also protects your joints and muscles from the impact of running.
Elinor: How does trail running help your yoga practice?
Amy: Trail running lets me spend time connnecting to nature and that give me sense of zen and peace that I need for my yoga practice and life. Physically, trail running builds up my endurance and stamina for a yoga practice like a vinyasa flow, where endurance is a factor.
Elinor: The yoga we did today focused a lot on core strength. Why is that important for runners?
Amy: The core is the epicenter of the body. It’s where all movement starts. If you run from your core, you will get more power from your legs, your breating cycle is more efficient and are more resistant to injury.