Finding Solace At Sunset Yoga: Why Runners Should Try It
The grass was a soft blanket under our feet. Also like a blanket was the clouds that tucked in the sun that lie just above the horizon. It was radiating light and its positive vibes that stretched out to the group of us and we began to stretch and transition into different poses.
All was still around us besides the occasional birds flying home. The only noise to be heard was our own breaths and the cars passing by. We contorted our bodies to relieve stress. We meditated and tapped into the power of healing hands as the moon rose. The tide had changed. There was an inner peace. We exhaled the stress of the day, each inhale bringing us back to life. We left the class feeling grounded and more in tune with our bodies, minds, and nature.
This was a sunset yoga class, and every runner should try one.
Yoga For Runners
Runners know that there are many benefits to practicing yoga. Yoga stretches all the muscles that are tight from running. It increases strength, especially in the core which can lead to faster running and better form. The exercise enhances stability and mobility. Yoga also helps the participant practice mindful breathing, which can then be applied to their running.
Even those are new to yoga will immediately feel the benefits after tying a class. This includes being relaxed, having a boost in mood, and getting that post-run stretch in that many runners skip out on.
But practicing yoga while watching the sunset get further sets the stage to a calm and serene experience.
Sunset yoga is exactly what it sounds like. But instead of being in the confines of a studio (there is nothing wrong with doing yoga at the gym or at home), the class is outdoors. As a result, there is a feeling that the participant can be more at one with the world around them. It is humbling and invigorating.
Participants transition to poses like the downward dog to modified cobra to child’s pose, warrior II to tree pose. This is done for about an hour, watching the sun take its last breaths for the day. The sky begins to dim like a candle on its last flames. The result is a swirl of pinks and oranges across the lavender grey sky. It’s a sight to see, putting things in perspective compared to our busy lives where we don’t take enough time to appreciate the little life’s moments. It makes the participant feel aware and present.
Then the moon glows in the sky, stars twinkling around it in a dance as the yogi’s bodies move slowly with each pose, joining in on the night.
The Location, The Class
This was exactly with the Gentle Sunset Yoga class this runner recently attended was like. The sunset yoga class was organized by Beyond Organic Growers, a non-GMO farm that is all about fresh produce and holding events for the community. This includes farm to table dinners, as well as the opportunity for people to come in daily to purchase fresh peppers, kale, butter lettuce and more.
Located in Freehold, NJ, the 200 acres of land was the perfect setting for the class. Yogis of all levels laid their mats out on the grass field in a semi-circle. Held at 6:45 in the evening, the sun was already on its descent. It painted it’s picture for us as we posed under the sky, part on the canvas.
Jeanine Krzyzanowski led the class, demonstrating the moves and calling out their names so more experienced ones could immediately take the position. As a beginner who only has done yoga using YouTube videos at home, the class was a nice change of pace. It wasn’t the sweaty workout I am used to, but some moves did require lots of effort to stay balanced. It was more about stretching and breathing which felt good after a long day.
Some poses were more challenging, but I was able to do them and not feel out of place among the more seasoned yogis. No one looked around or judged when it looks a few rocks to get into the half shoulder stand or when the balance was off getting into that low warrior.
It was empowering and put a breath of fresh air into the night as we say goodnight to the sun and crescent moon welcomed us with its grin with open arms.
But the best part of the class was yet to come.
Reiki & Essential Oils
This sunset yoga class incorporated essential oils and Reiki. At the beginning of the class, Krzyzanowski rubbed manuka oil on our wrist. The essential oil promotes cell regeneration and is in the same family as tea tree oil. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties as well as serving as a relaxant. It smelled good and did help sooth the mind from the start.
After practicing yoga for about an hour, participants had the option of receiving Reiki. This Japanese technique is all about healing by using hands. Laying of the hands is supposed to tap into the person’s energy, getting rid of negativity. Think of it as “spiritually guided life force energy.”
As participants of the class meditated in any position they were comfortable in, a woman came around whispering to each person if they would like Reiki. “It’s okay if you don’t believe in it, just know I believe in it,” she said as she rubbed her hands together. She instructed to have an open heart. The person can think about their higher power, angels, someone they lost in their life. She then placed her hands over the eyes.
It is almost an out of the body like experience where energy can be felt. Focusing in on positivity and letting go of the negative, we lay there in meditation. I felt more in tune with myself than over, and it was almost emotional looking out to the night sky. This sentiment of feeling emotional was felt among others in the class.
Why Runners Should Try It
We all left feeling recharged. It was the perfect way to end a day, and mentally change focus to then be able to get back to the rise and grind of everyday life. This is exactly why runners should try a class like this for themselves. It gave me the stretching I desperately needed while allowing me to tap into my own strength which is important when half marathon training.
It allowed me to be ready for my run the next day, and exhale and just take a moment for myself with any pressures of time, distance, and speed. Yoga can be practiced just about anywhere by people of all fitness levels. Sunset yoga just makes the experience that much more worthwhile.
Gentle Sunset Yoga with Reiki & Essential Oils held by Beyond Organic Growers continues Thursday nights throughout September.