Yoga Pre-Test and Floppy Ankles

July 17, 2012 at 9:49 am 5 comments

Last night was my ashtanga yoga class with my friend Jen teaching. She teaches every Monday and it is always an amazing and sweaty workout that leaves your legs shaking and your whole body humming. I was hoping to be able to really focus on the ‘needle-in-cotton’ principle during the class, but I was so focused on maintaining my breath that I didn’t have much room for any other thought.

Before the class I asked her to take a few pictures of me with my phone so that I could have a visual of some of the poses that are most challenging for me, and so that I could assess my progress in a few months. She snapped a few pics during the first and second series, and in a forward bend. I haven’t had a change to parse out my form with her yet (I also work with her) but I can see off the bat that I really need to work on getting my ridiculously tight shoulders out of my ears and rolling my shoulder blades together.



All in all, it was a great class and each week I can feel small progressions.

I didn’t do any chi running practice after class last night because I wanted to make a good dinner, so this morning I set my alarm for 6:15 and after a few snoozes I got dressed for a morning chi practice. I did some yoga for about 5 minutes in my house–cat and cow, chaturanga, up/down dog–and centered my breath and went out for a walk/run.

One of the first tenets one has to master in chi running is relaxed ankles. Ever since I took the first of two chi running workshops last Wednesday, I’ve been focusing on walking with relaxed ankles. It’s pretty funny and weird because how often do you think about your ankles? I personally have generally ignored my ankles, for years, unless they were in pain, or unless I’m skiing. So for the past week I’ve been visualizing floppy ankles because I think it’s a hilarious visual. Take a second and imagine how we would all look when we walked if we had floppy ankles. (Sidenote: you don’t actually want your ankles to be floppy, just relaxed.) So far it hasn’t been too hard to keep them relaxed, but I definitely have to think about it. It’s not second nature yet.

So, floppy ankles were on my mind as I walked around my neighborhood and then headed up to the park that is less than a mile from my house. It’s a beautiful park and I did a big loop, enjoying the cooler morning air.

I tried running a little bit but I backed off for several reasons. I’ve been trying to kick an allergy/chest cold/cough for the past few weeks and whenever I run for more than a few blocks I start coughing and expelling lots of junk from my chest. Gross.  I’m also trying to remember that chi running is all about incremental progress and I literally have to learn to walk before I can run. I’m still practicing relaxation, good posture, and engaging my core and I need to master that at a walking speed before I start running. Going too fast into running will not fix any of my form problems and will make injuries more likely.

So I walked on and focused on relaxing my legs. I found that when I relaxed my ankles I was clenching my glutes, or as my chi running instructor Cheryl would say, I was being a hard ass. But when I relaxed my glutes I would send the tension down to my ankles, unless I really concentrated. The tension in my glutes was surprising because I didn’t even know it was there. It’s amazing what you discover in your body when you pay attention. When I was in my most relaxed state I could really feel the difference and all of a sudden my pelvis was rotating freely and not in competition with my core. After relaxed ankles, square shoulders and a rotating pelvis is the second key tenet of chi running because that’s where you get your power. Hopefully I can explain that later.

Overall, the walk lasted about 45 minutes. I rotated my focus on my legs and then my arms and then I would catch myself tensing up in some areas. The whole experience showed me that building a relaxed muscle memory is my first priority. I won’t be actually chi running if my legs are tense so, for now, my motto is incremental progress and acceptance of where I am each day. It doesn’t hurt that I live in such a beautiful area and feel such gratitude every time I’m outside for the mountain view.

My goal for the week is to do yoga each night and chi walk in the morning before work. Wednesday night is the second chi running workshop, and that’s where we’ll actually get to learn the running principles–last week we learned what we were doing wrong while running and the basic, walking principles. I’ll write a re-cap post about that for tomorrow. Stay tuned.


Entry filed under: Morning Workout, Relaxation, Walking, Yoga. Tags: , , , .

A Walk in the Woods Relax, get to it

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Yoga Post Test « Ch'I Journey  |  October 2, 2012 at 9:13 am

    […] later my teacher Jen took some pictures of me during an Ashtanga practice and I posted them in here. Well, my 3 month pass expired last week and I asked Jen to take pictures again as  sort of yoga […]

  • 2. Jane Fritz  |  July 18, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    This is great. You seem to have figured out floppy ankles better than I have. I’ve been practicing Chi Running for the past 2 years and have just started having sore gluts/ upper hamstrings, which is why I started yoga! I will be following your journey as I continue on mine. :)

    • 3. Steph  |  July 18, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks Jane! I look forward to reading about yours as well! As for floppy ankles..well, we’ll see how relaxed they stay once I really start running. But yoga and chi running do go hand in hand so I’m sure we’ll both be improving!

  • 4. Jen  |  July 17, 2012 at 1:13 pm

    Hi Stephanie,
    Great job with your blog! I am enjoying your journey and am here to offer any and all support that I can!
    Here is one of my teacher’s audio yoga classes, to do when you are on the road traveling or at home: he is a master teacher out of Santa Cruz. Mark Stephens books are very useful as well. Keep up the great work! Jen

    • 5. Steph  |  July 18, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Thanks Jen! Your support means alot!

      This link will be very helpful and I’ll be sure to keep you posted!!


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