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Yoga for Runners Connects Body and Spirit

Baihly Warfield
Updated: June 19, 2019 10:25 PM

DULUTH, Minn. - As the morning sun lights up the sky over Leif Erikson Park, the peacefulness is matched by a group of women on the stage. 

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The pink and yellow clouds stretch above as bare feet ground the women on their yoga mats. Normally, many of them would be among those in tennis shoes running by on the Lakewalk. But Wednesday morning, they were focused on taking it slow. 

"Use the mind to link to the soul," yoga instructor Rylee Martin said. "Use your breath like an anchor."

An appropriate simile as the sound of Lake Superior's waves accompany the 50-minute vinyasa Yoga for Runners class. It's a collaboration between the Duluth Running Company and Runa Yoga.

"Yoga is a really good complement to just about anything that you do," Martin said. 

Any long distance runner knows cross training is important. Martin said often, runners come in wanting to stretch out tight hips and hamstrings.

Katelyn Melcher started running in 8th or 9th grade. She was formerly a dancer and didn't want to lose her flexibility, so she took up yoga. 

"By stretching and being flexible, it does help with injury prevention," Melcher said. 

She said her sore legs appreciated the slow stretching Wednesday morning. Yoga can also help build muscles that runners don't use as often. 

"Sometimes targeting upper body too," Martin said, "depending on how people run and what their form is, people can hunch over."

She hopes the class helps runners improve both posture and spirit. 

"The more that you practice yoga, the more that you start to realize it's not just a physical practice, but it's also a mental practice," Martin said. "And I think that the longer you run, you start to realize too that it's not just a physical practice, it's a mental practice too. So it also helps build some of the mental strength."

As Melcher trains for some long distance races later this summer, she has found that to be true. 

"It's really easy for me to kind of get lost in my own space on my runs, and yoga I feel like brings me back to the moment to be able to appreciate nature and what's going on around me," she said. 

The moments of being grounded prepare her to fly. 

The 10-week Yoga for Runners summer session began Wednesday. The fall one begins in September. 

WDIO is a major media partner of Grandma's Marathon. Watch for coverage leading up to race day...and Live Streaming of the Marathon and Half Marathon on all WDIO Online platforms.

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Baihly Warfield

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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