11 February 2014

Yoga and Running: For Those Who Think They Can't

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tara rolling mat

This post has been brewing inside me for weeks. She's ready now.

I'm not penning these words for the spritely go-getter who jumps out of bed each morning, laces up her runners and hits the track.

Nor am I writing this for the devoted yogini who effortlessly finds ease, presence and profound flexibility on her mat.

Though if you are, you're more than welcome here :)

I'm writing this post for the chicas that only dream that maybe, just maybe, one day they might. They want to clock the kilometres. They long to be one of 'those' ones who seems to find bliss in yoga - a practice that currently leaves them a little frustrated and impatient at best, begging for savasana.

In truth, this is a blog post that preaches the importance of presence and progress. Of patience and gentle determination.

Because when we get the balance between these virtues right, we become alchemists of muscle endurance and lung capacity and of blasting the shit through those glass ceilings our minds place upon us.

So, my yoga and running wannabes, let me just tell you straight up:

/ You CAN run

/ You CAN do inversions

/ You CAN free up your spine, improve your balance, find 'the zone'

You can. And, like all good spiritual practices, the path of progression is less about building your tool kit, skill set and learning new things, and more about releasing all that's shackling you from experiencing breakthroughs in your body.

And we do that, by simply starting. One day, hopefully very soon, you'll get out of bed with a few embers burning in your belly. They're the electric charge that tell you it's time to try something different, that it's time to start exploring your body in new ways. Those embers know that exercise ain't just exercise - it's a gateway to deep personal discovery, profound energetic shifts and cellular freedom.

Our struggles on our mat, and on the track, teach us about how we process and deal with our struggles in life.

/ Do we forcefully push through the pain?

/ Do we throw our hands up in the air and give up too easily?

/ Do we plain old get the shits at the onset of a mild cramp, a little discomfort, or an uphill section?

/ Are we constantly thinking about the end of this pose, or the next stretch of road, or the next lap, instead of allowing our bodies the right and privilege of taking in the moment as it is; what this foot feels like when it hits the ground. And now this one. Instead of feeling the space that this breath creates in our chest. And now this one.


These are the very reasons I've become so acutely dedicated to yoga. Because apart from observing the way I interact with others, it's the truest and most revealing method for learning more about myself as a woman.

Am I pushing here? Am I surrendering? Do I need to dig a little deeper? Can I do this?

All legit contemplations that I bring to both hanamanasana (the splitz) and final km stretches.

But I'm going to crack this wide open in the Honesty Ranks, 'cuz let's be real - it's the days where my internal dialogue is as follows that makes me feel strong and capable:

Oh fuck yes I can! Holy crap I am actually doing this! Pick it up Ta's - bring it home! Yep this is it... this feeling right here. Yes.

Ahem. That sounds a little sexual, non? (All good things are a little saucy!)


So, in the spirit of inspiration, of brightening those there embers of yours, let's riff a little about progress, because what I've noticed is that apart from Glen's kitchen creations, what seems to get the most attention on my social media streams is when I share openly about my running and yoga practices.


tara running burleigh

Decide to start.

Decide to be patient, compassionate and in total acceptance of where you are in this body, right now.

I remember the first time Glen and I ran a lap of Burleigh Beach; a 2km stretch. It took me 17 minutes and I thought I might actually keel over and die. Together, we built up gradually; so, so gradually. Sometimes, we would even set out for interval sessions (run 500 metres, walk 1 kilometre, repeat). The point? Don't be afraid of baby steps.

Stretch generously. If your body's tight and inflamed, you may link running with inevitable pain. We don't want that. Back when I use to play elite volleyball, I never, ever stretched. And I wondered why I was always in agony. Allow your time to stretch to feel lush and wholesome.

Take magnesium supplements. An awesome heads up from this babe.

Craft a killer soundtrack. I can't emphasise this enough - it's invaluable. I sometimes like to imagine that my body is the music. That my feet are one beat, my heart beat is another, and the sound of my breath is yet another. You can check out my Spotify playlist here if you need some inspiration.

Look up. Stop looking at your feet, sweet potato. You're outside with the oxygen and the children and the foliage... don't let it pass you by. Know that you are a part of this world, and that with every inhale, you're breathing in a little more of it.

When the mind pipes up with a case of the I Can't's, drop your awareness back into your body. With injuries as the exception, of course, DA-ROP back down into your heart, lungs and legs; the areas of your body that need your focus and determination.

Heat is different to exhaustion. Don't be afraid of sweat, in fact, I dare you to smile at the muggy, sometimes humid discomfort of perspiration. Sweat is a drug and soon, you'll love it.

One of my intentions this year was to run 10km. 2 days before I left for Japan, I did it. Those 10kms literally woke me up at 4:30am and said, Tara, it's time. Today's the day.

Heed the call of your longings, friends.

yoga and running


tara balance sunrise

Your mind will criticise you.

You're not flexible. You're uncoordinated. You should be doing better than this...

And what's beautiful about the body, is that she whispers: Honey, you can't be anywhere but right here.

There's no hiding from yourself in yoga, and wishing for things to be different than what they presently are is nothing but energy wasted, so...

If you're feeling rage well up as you sink deeper into your pigeon pose, see the rage. If tears are coming, let them, but most importantly, see that rage as something that needs to come up for air. Allow it to breathe.

Remember, that to exhale, is to release. Every so often I have beautiful moments with my body that go something like this: I start knocking up against something that I perceive to be difficult, so I smile. And as soon as I release the resistance, and allow a sense of amusement, curiosity and joy to enter my practice, it's as though my body says Thank You. And I respond by saying Ah! There you go. You want to loosen, you're just waiting for me to meet you half way. If that's not the epitome of yoga (union); marrying the body/mind, then I'm not sure what is.

Pimp out your variations. Don't be too proud to avoid the block/ strap/ blanket/ bolster/ bent knee. Give yourself permission for yoga to feel incredible. Your hamstrings will eventually catch up to a serene and open mind.

Yoga will ask you how patient you're willing to be, but it will also ask you to call on your courage, as well as your equanimous (non-reactive) mind. There's really no practice as diverse and revealing as yoga. Some days, I feel supported and grounded on my mat, and others, completely exposed and vulnerable. Sometiems I feel shackled, like my whole body is closed and has no interest in opening, and others, all it takes is a pinch of intentional presence and I feel as though I could unfold for eons.

When I started doing arm balances and inversions, I felt as though I were having outer-body experiences. All the limiting beliefs hovering around in the archives of my psyche would float to the surface with loud booms of You're Not Strong Enough, You Don't Have The Focus To Pull This Off, This Is Going To End Badly... The number one tool that keeps this gremlins at bay? The breathe. Please, my friend, let yoga teach you how valuable and golden your breath is.


A few final notes on yoga and running

/ Sweat is the skin's greatest healer

/ Lifting my knees and stretching out for that last 500 metres of a lung run is the epitome of FREEDOM

/ Recovery is an extension of my self love practice

/ Sharing this experience with others has made it seem more soulfully purposeful. (I run with Glen, and Rach and I have a Sunday morning yoga ritual)

/ Both yoga and running and have brought me back home


So, sweet thing, just start.

Do your best to smile at the onset of struggle.

Nurse your body while it's recovering.

Touch it often. (I mean that. Lay your hands on your body as you're getting to know it again)

Be willing to be patient.

You've got this.


In Spirited, Rach and I have devoted a whole chapter on finding your perfect brand of exercise; the type of sweat that makes your soul sing. Learn more here.

If you loved this post, please share it with your friends and leave me a comment below. Share anything - you're struggles with exercise, your progressions, your resistances. Your biggest take away from this post? I'd love to hear from you xx

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    • Kristen
      11 February 2014

      Brilliant post Tara. I have just started running and can barely reach 800m so I challenge myself to run just that little bit further each time.

      I struggle with my flexibility in yoga and have just started learning to be patient and find ways to enjoy the pose I am in with out wishing my hamstrings would magically loosen. I now enjoy the progress I can see I am making.

      • Tara
        11 February 2014

        Atta girl. :)

    • 11 February 2014

      Oh I LOVE this hun, thank you! The final confirmation to listen to those nudges to develop a deeper yoga practice. I especially love what you said "more about releasing all that’s shackling you from experiencing breakthroughs in your body". It's time to start releasing the doubts and excuses and just start already. Much love and gratitude xxx

      • Tara
        11 February 2014

        Just start, sweet heart! (Hey, that rhymes!) hehe

    • 11 February 2014

      Amazing. I had an amazing relationship with running for a couple of months, every time I ran I felt so alive and happy and determined. But now that seems to have disappeared. If my body needs to run again, I hope I will hear the call.
      Love reading your posts. Thanks Tara!
      Esther :) xx

      • Tara
        11 February 2014

        You're welcome babe. x

    • Vicki
      11 February 2014

      Hi Honey, love this, especially 'exercise ain’t just exercise – it’s a gateway to deep personal discovery, profound energetic shifts and cellular freedom.'
      I keep saying 'rest, take it easy on yourself, you used to be able to run but now you walk, what if you can't still run when you're 50, 60, 70, what's the point of doing it now then'... hmmm present moment lesson perhaps xx

      • Tara
        11 February 2014

        You'll know when it's time to shift gears babe :) x

    • 11 February 2014

      Love it - my two favourite forms of exercise - both of which I was never 'gifted' with the natural ability for! Tight hamstrings, mildly-dodgy-knees, a wonky shoulder...

      I used to drift between yoga and running, as if they couldn't exist together. I was either a runner, or I was a yogini. And yet - I came back to them both - together. I've discovered that in fact, they balance one another out and are the yin to the other's yang.

      I still feel the resistance and frustration at times with both yoga and running, but they love my body and my body LOVES them back.

      • Tara
        11 February 2014

        I totally know what you mean babe. I've learnt that my body loved full time yoga peppered with runs, not the other way round. It's nice to investigate, hey?


    • 11 February 2014

      Lovely. The perfect combination. Yoga is my first love. Running - well... I have a love/hate relationship with, but I know I need her.

      Bettina x

      • Tara
        11 February 2014

        'I know I need her.' I just love that. Thanks for commenting Bettina :) x

    • 11 February 2014

      Wow this is so beautiful. I've always been so afraid of yoga (I have really tight hamstrings) and the way you've summed it up is so beautiful. You have me really wanting to find a happy place in yoga. Thank you, Tara. You have yet again sparked my soul with inspiration that makes me want to strap on my runners and go for a run right now!

    • 11 February 2014

      Beautifully expressed as always Tara.

      The thing I love about 'turning a can't into a can' is what happens internally - you start looking around your life and examining all the other places, where you have been holding yourself back. Things never quite look the same after that ;)

    • 12 February 2014

      Oh this speaks to me. I just decided to do my 200hr teacher training with little prior yoga experience, but after having tremendous success from doing just a few poses and encouragement from my teacher/friend, I decided to sign up. It's been lifechanging and indeed, anyone can do it.

    • Emily
      12 February 2014

      Ah Tara, so beautiful to see how far you've come with the yoga!! I love that your mat is a comfortable place of surrender and peace now, and am stoked that you have been able to fulfil your running dreams too. Peace babe xx

    • Lyndsey
      12 February 2014

      I love this post! It made me feel so much better about my running and yoga practices. I have been an on and off runner for the last couple of years and just recently started running again (after a small ok big hiatus). I am not the best runner nor am I the worst but reading this post really opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t have to be either. I just want to be consistent, not have the best time, not have the most km, just consistent at getting out there and gradually building upon the skill I already have. Like you said “don’t be afraid of baby steps”, I am excited to have a rainy carefree run tonight!
      I also started doing kundalini yoga about 8 months ago (my absolute favourite kind) and have been pretty hard on myself for not being as flexible (those darn hamstrings) as someone next to me, or the person in the video or my bestie who has never practiced yoga before....but it is not about that and just like running there will always be someone better and someone worse and you just have to give it your all and progress will slowly but surely arrive. Like last week when I finally made it into crow pose (something I have been working on since the beginning)! It is the little changes you see in your body or your km which mean the most and what I truly need to focus on. So thank you for reminding me of this, something I have always know subconsciously, but is always nice when someone else brings it to light and tells us it is ok!

    • 12 February 2014

      Love it love it LOVE it! I'm a runner and yoga girl myself - no matter what I do - I always come back to these. That being said, I've done off and on for so many years that every time I stop, there's like a piece of me missing and when I start again, it's like coming home after being away for so long. Slightly uncomfortable and unfamiliar, but then you remember where you kept your favourite cup and the way the couch feels and it's so good.

      Yep - just start. Running marathons and being able to do backbends doesn't make you a runner or yogi - just literally giving it a go means you are already there xx

    • 12 February 2014

      Thanks for this post Tara :D

      I've been getting deeper into yoga over the last year, and just started baby-running every morning (think 3 mins of running, 5 mins of walking!). Your post is so encouraging.

      And wow, the splits?! I remember doing that when I was 10 at a school disco, and would love to be able to do it again. What a great goal.

      You're so inspiring :) xx

    • Helen
      12 February 2014

      So enjoyed this Tara. I've had a deep affinity with running all my life, it's my band aid, but this year yoga was also calling. You've just revealed to me why. Presence and patience, where have you been? I'm like a kindy at this stage but after reading your inspiration I truly will hang in there. The rewards are waiting:)

    • 12 February 2014

      Tara - first time here and WOW is this not exactly what I needed.
      I've been on this crazy self discovery path the past 6 months, after a terrible 2013. I know i need to fuel my body and mind a lot more than I havebeen. Running is always something I've looked at people doing and wanted to BE them. i just need a shove in the right direction. I think reading your post has been so timely for me.

      Thank you thank you x

    • Michaela
      12 February 2014

      I sincerely love this post, from the depth of my heart, and am so grateful for it. I used to love running but that was about five years ago. Now when I try and pick it back up again, I'm terrified - it's as if all my negative beliefs surface at once to tell me how I'm not capable of running even 2km! I've no idea why but it's something I'll listen to and allow room to breathe...while I am taking each running step in my stride :D

      Thanks Tara x

    • Fontaine
      12 February 2014

      This is stunning.

    • Katie
      14 February 2014

      Oh girl, you hit me hard today. Running is such a bipolar friend of mine. I've completed 2 marathons and many 1/2 marathons, 10Ks and 5Ks and yet I still don't call myself a runner. Notice I said completed not ran 2 marathons. Running is something that has never felt easy and yet at the height of my training I could zone out for 5 miles and forget where I was. I think the biggest factor was that I was never running for myself. I was always training to do a race with or for someone else. I'm committing to get back into running for joy and lung capacity. I'm doing it for no other reason than to clear my head and strengthen my lungs.

      Yoga on the other hand is my lover. My first yoga teacher was my favorite and since moving away from her I've struggled to get back into it. I love it when I do and I need to reorder my day to allow for yoga. It's a struggle that I know is worth overcoming.

      Thank you for this honest and inspiring post. It's giving me the kick-in-the-ass I need to get back out there.

      • Tara
        14 February 2014

        You're so welcome honey.

        My intention with this post was to help motivate my readers from a complete and total space of love, rather than competitiveness and Should Have's. If it's touched you in that way, then my work here is done. Thank you x

    • Stacey
      16 February 2014

      Thanks Tara! I needed this post particularly when it comes to my yoga practice. I have had a love hate relationship with yoga for well over 20 years. I truly find bliss in yoga, I find it one of the best ways to tune into my body and tune out of stress. But I am not flexible AT ALL and often get really, really frustrated during practice and have had instructors become frustrated with me. I remember being in a yoga class one day and the teacher singled me out as she couldn't understand why I could do a perfect bow pose yet come no where near touching my toes in a seated forward bend. This past story haunts me every time i step onto the mat!

      But thank you for reminding me the true essence of yoga - progression not perfection. My new years resolution is to be able to touch my toes from a standing position - doable? I believe it is I just have to learn to be patient with my body...oh and find an instructor who understands just how uncomfortable I find seated postures :-) Know any awesome Brisbane based instructors?

    • Belinda
      8 April 2014

      This post couldn't have been more timely.
      I've been doing yoga regualarly for the past six weeks and somedays I can feel myself reaching further in forward bends and other days feel like I can't even hold downward dog for more than 5 seconds.
      Several years ago I started running with the assistance of the couch to 5K app and loved it. But a few weeks off because of some other stuff going on, has now turned into 18 months. I'm feeling inspired to make a running track list and hit the turf.
      Thanks for the inspo.

      • Tara
        9 April 2014

        You're welcome :) xo

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