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A Real Runner's High: Integrating Running, Yoga and Meditation

Aug 9, 2008
We've all heard about, or even experienced ourselves, the Runner's High: a pleasant euphoria of endorphin-induced bliss. This is the exhilarating feeling of really taking care of our bodies, hearts and minds. Though the feeling is somewhat fleeting -- a few hours after the exercise session and the feeling wanes. Well, what if there were ways to extend that feeling, perhaps indefinitely, and maybe deepen it to become a more profound experience of happiness and joy? Many individuals are finding the combined disciplines of exercise, yoga asana, and meditation can lead to this result.

A little about each discipline: Any somewhat vigorous exercise will do, not just running. Running, however, is exceptionally convenient -- put on a pair of shoes and get out the door. It can be done in nearly any condition at any time. Trail running even gets you out into nature for a time, maybe offering a more fulfilling experience. The vigorous exercise improves many, many measurable conditions of our bodies; the result being a positive effect on our overall health and wellbeing.

Yoga is gaining significant interest in North America. As it does, the understanding of the practice is moving beyond just the physical postures. Yoga was originally practiced as a means to develop the body's potential for spiritual growth. Now it has been found that regular practice, like running, also has a profound effect on our health. The increase in flexibility, calmness and energy levels has the yoga community growing by leaps and bounds. It also has a significant positive impact on other physical exercise practices, allowing a more efficient creation of energy and greater enjoyment of any vigorous exercise.

Finally, meditation can be thought of as exercise for the mind. We in the States tend to focus on exercising the body, as the results are easily measured. But the mind is more vague in this respect. If we spend a half an hour meditating, have we made our minds stronger? If we do it properly, and with the same conviction of our physical practices, the experts will answer with a resounding 'yes'. Some even say the benefits last longer than physical exercise -- whereas the body will lose conditioning relatively quickly, the mind will retain the gains for an even longer time.

Interested in learning more? The Shambhala Mountain Center in Red Feather Lakes, Colorado, is offering a 4 day retreat this August 21st through 24th to help folks improve their practice in all these areas, and make a stronger connection between all three. For more information, visit the center's website at www.shambhalamountain.org.
About the Author
To see more about the Shabhala Mountain Center's 'Running with the Mind of Meditation and Yoga' program, visit http://www.shambhalamountain.org/programs/946.
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