Q: I’m in training for a spring marathon. How can yoga help me taper?
A: Taper, peak, fade – whatever you call it, it’s that period when you’re supposed to be training less than you have before. You’ve logged the super long miles or sessions and the plan says it’s time to pull back, let the body catch up, recover. Sounds great, you can do that right?
Not so straight-forward. Why? Because it’s way, way too easy to fall into the human trap of thinking more is more. (You know you think that way – you’re a competitor. It goes with the territory.)
So you stop trusting the plan and maybe add on a few hours. Or you pull back and your mind starts flipping you out, the confidence you’ve worked hard to accumulate takes a dive and before you know it, your anxiety is through the roof and you don’t even have your old faithful sport to distract you.
The solution: Drop a few key yoga tools into your taper plan.
The yoga mat is the ‘go to’ place to find calm in the chaos, get hold of your monkey mind, and bring some nourishment back into the body.
Here’s 3 ways how it does that:
- Getting still
Choose a restorative yoga and you get to hang out in poses for longer and that stillness is where the recovery happens. Your goal is to release any tension and tap into what’s called your rest and digest response (parasympathetic nervous system). When you access this response, which is opposite to the cortisol-inducing fight or flight response (sympathetic nervous system), it’s a signal to your body that it’s business as usual (no need to flee or fight –it’s safe) and get to work on what it does best – heal/restore/balance. The result is you’ll be able to sleep better, absorb nutrients better, enjoy normal bowel movements, have a clearer head, have more positive emotions and more energy.
- Repeating the mantra
In yoga you get to learn about mantra as a tool to calm and quiet the mind and take you back to simplicity. Mantra is a Sanskrit word which means ‘mind instrument’ or ‘vehicle’. And put simply, you repeat the mantra or vibration over and over to help you move away from the activity of the mind and work into a place of concentration. Mantras are said to be able to help you get over any subconscious self-defeating habits and beliefs. But you don’t have to speak Sanskrit to get the benefits. Make up your own taper mantra to keep you focused and on track. Try: I am ready. I’m prepared. I’ve got this. Ready set. Good to go.
- Embrace the Law of Least Effort
Ditch the ‘more means more’ mantra (it’s not serving you) and ask if you could be less rigid on how you roll. Yoga helps you explore the idea of going with the flow every now and then. I get that this takes more than a little bit of skinny hippie trust, but the thing is you can struggle against every moment and try and force it your way, but all that does is create one huge helping of resistence. Resistence creates turmoil in the mind, and restriction and constriction or stress and tension in the body. From that space, you are not going to find any measure of success or flexible, forward motion – you’re just wasting valuable energy. How about instead, accepting you have made the choices that got you this far in your training and everything is as it should be. Trust you’ve done the hard work, and have patience that you will see results.
Are you athletic, active and want to put the yogi in your training? Send in your questions, comments, frustrations to me at firstname.lastname@example.org