An ode to all runners

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It was hard to watch the London Marathon last week and not feel inspired by thousands of people who dedicated their time, not to mention their physical and mental energy to raise money for so many worthy causes.

The preparation and exertion that goes into running cannot be underestimated, and for any regular runners out there, feeling tight, sore or tender are just some of the physiological effects of such extensive training. Taking the time to stretch before and after your run is so vital to minimising any tension or pain, which in turn makes you susceptible to injury.

The following are my top 3 asanas to help all you runners out there create a sustained feeling of flow before and after your practice – whether you are new to yoga or an experienced yogi!

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1.      Downward-Facing Dog

Whilst a seemingly simply asana, this is an excellent pose for opening the back of the legs. It helps to lengthen the glutes, hamstrings and calves.

How to practice: Start on all fours, with your hands shoulder-distance and hip-width apart. Lift your knees away from the floor whilst pressing your hands and feet firmly towards the ground. Ensure you lengthen your legs and feel your lower back straighten as you relax your head & neck, and gaze towards your feet.

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2.      Deep Squat Pose

This pose stretches the ankles & groins, lengthens the spine and tones the stomach muscles.

How to practice: Stand upright and Keep your legs parallel while bending your knees and pressing your heels into the floor, maintaining even weight on both feet. Once your knees are completely bent, spread them wide and move your chest forward between your thighs, placing your hands together in prayer pose.

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3.      Half Splits Pose

This pose stretches the thighs, hamstrings, and groins. Practicing the correct technique ensures you are evenly stretching your body, leading to faster gains in your flexibility over time.

How to practice: Begin in Downward-Facing Dog, with the palms firmly grounded and the hips lifting high and back. Step your right foot forward between your hands. Lower down onto your left knee, tucking the toes in. Keep the front foot flexed to activate the hamstrings and your hips square.

Making Decisions to Achieve our Goals

How often have you decided to embark on a new plan? A change of direction? Or even to break an existing habit, but have been unsure as to how to work towards your intended goals?

Despite our ability to make decisions from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to sleep, it can be challenging to focus our attention towards the precise decisions we need to make in order to achieve our goals.

Decision making, as with any cognitive process, consists of various stages, each of which needs to be identified and mastered in a sequential manner to help us succeed, irrespective of nature of the task at hand:

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By working through each stage in turn, we can begin to develop the appropriate mindset, knowledge and skills that will help to ensure our decisions are inextricably linked to the achievement of our goals.

Once we've identified the problems, or indeed opportunities, pertaining to the decision at hand, we can begin to seek clarity as to the various options ahead of us. Having identified and analysed these options, we can then select the most viable option and embark upon implementing that decision based on our options. 

One of the most important aspects of decision making that we often don't afford ourselves is evaluating and learning from that decision: Did I achieve what I set out to do? Am I truly happy with the outcome? Could I have done anything differently? What have I learned from my decision? Beyond these questions, we can even ask ourselves the 5 W's (Who, When, What, Where and Why), to thoroughly understand the decisions we have made in the past and the decisions we will make in the future.

What is "FLOW" and how does it impact you work performance?

 The concept of Flow has been widely researched for a number of years. It has informed the practice of Psychologists, Academics, Sports Professionals and Entrepreneurs. As a theoretical concept, it delves into the heart of why we are motivated to accomplish certain tasks and, when applied in a commercial context, Flow help business leaders and professionals to sustain their focus, explore their areas for development and leverage their strengths.

So, what is FLOW?

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Developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Flow is defined as "the psychological mental state of a person who is immersed in an activity with energized concentration, optimal enjoyment, full involvement and intrinsic interests... who is usually focused, motivated, positive, energized and aligned with the task at hand" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990)

Flow is the state of being that typically depicts the most enjoyable of our life experiences; when we aren't aware of the passage of time, when we feel a sense of sense of enjoyable harmony in our consciousness.

To understand how we arrive in the Flow state, why we stay there and how we can sustain our Flow experiences will be a unique journey of discovery for every person. By embarking on this journey we can uncover the roots of our intrinsic motivations and unlock the key of enhanced performance in all aspects of our lives.

If we apply the principles of energized concentration, optimal enjoyment, full involvement and intrinsic interest to how we approach our performance in the way we work, our recreational activities and our sense of personal development, we can establish and sustain the Flow state into every aspect of our lives.