Stretching my limits at Illuminated Yoga

Posted at 2:32 PM, Mar 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-01 14:21:15-04

As I stood on my yoga mat, staring out at the Inner Harbor and struggling to remain upright in my tree pose, I noticed my fellow yogis and I had an audience.

Visitors to Light City Baltimore, the city’s first ever festival of lights, stopped to watch the 80 or so people taking part in Illuminated Yoga Wednesday night. Some snapped pictures. Others yelled “Namaste” at us. A few attempted to imitate our poses.

It was hard not to giggle, let alone hold my balance.

Medifast teamed up with the Waterfront Partnership of Baltimore’s Wellness series, which brings fitness classes to the waterfront throughout the summer, to offer Illuminated Yoga.

The class took place against the backdrop of the National Aquarium and the light displays set up through the harbor, which made for a unique experience. Participants got glow-in-the-dark necklaces and glow paint to wear during class, adding to the fun.

RELATED: Baltimore Bike Party Moonlight Madness unofficially kicks off Light City

As you know from my previous posts, I’m a long-distance runner, and we’re not always known for our flexibility.

That said, runners can certainly benefit from the practice of yoga, as Christine Yu recently wrote in Runner’s World. It helps you breathe better, it gives you mental strength (an absolute must if you’re training for a half-marathon or marathon) and it helps you focus.

I used to do yoga about once a week, but had to drop it from my workout routine due to time constraints. So while I was excited to practice Illuminated Yoga, I knew it would probably be a struggle at times.

And yes, it was. I’ve never been able to touch my toes (very tight hamstrings), so any pose that required me to reach the ground was a hot mess. I don’t remember having trouble with my balance in previous yoga classes, but wow, I was off-balance Wednesday night. I couldn’t hold my tree pose without my branches and trunk swaying violently, and I almost fell over trying to do dancer’s pose.

Above: I attempt Warrior 3 without falling over

To be fair, it was also really chilly—the wind coming directly off the water made it feel at least 10 degrees colder than it actually was—so that also may have been why I was shaking.

I still had a blast. YogaWorks teacher Allison Korycki was both soothing and energetic as she led the group through the series of poses and breathing techniques. And since my current fitness routine consists solely of running and kickboxing, it was great to mix it up.  

And even though I stayed up too late after class, which began at 8 p.m., I feel like I slept better that night. I woke up in the morning feeling really refreshed.

Jen Christman, clinical nutrition director for Medifast, said yoga is an effective way to focus on your body, especially if you’re constantly stimulated by cellphones and other media all day long.

“And this is a great way to get outside,” Christman said. “Spring is in the air.”

Even if it didn’t feel like it that night! 

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