I’ve always loved the connection between yoga and life. The work done on the mat finds its shadow in life situations when, for instance, the controlled breath learned through challenging asanas appears during a personal conflict. The outcome being so different when breath replaces immediate action in the midst of discomfort.

I am not a perfect yogi. I am a wife, mother, daughter, runner and teacher. Sometimes life interferes with my practice. I notice when I have neglected my practice. My mind becomes cluttered with worries. My body becomes tight due to running or stress. My reactions become involuntary instead of with purpose. I begin to question myself—my direction and purpose.

Similar to yoga, running has always been an outlet and passion of mine. Running is a form of meditation and way to connect to myself and my friends. Yoga helps my running by aiding me mentally toward achieving my goals be it getting faster or running longer.

This year, instead of focusing on individual running goals, I have found myself signing up for endurance relays. The first was Cast A Shadow this winter. A 6 hour snowshoe race of teams of three. The joining with others to complete a common goal has been motivating but not without an added sprinkle stress. I don’t want to fail my team. I don’t want to be the weak link. On top of the training now lies the fear of disappointing more than just myself.

Next week I will be participating in a new race called the Seneca 7. At 7am teams of 7 will begin to run around Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes totaling 77 miles and ending by 7pm. I happily joined in on the fun thinking that three legs of about 4 miles each with hours in between talking to my girlfriends would be no problem-a piece of cake. Much to my horror, my teammates (in which half are training for the Lake Placid Ironman) decided to bike the in-between miles. That means no rest. That means big hills. That means a lot of uncertainty.

I have missed yoga due to adding spin classes in the attempts to train for a bike ride that is longer by more than 20 miles than any ride I’ve cycled thus far. I’ve managed a yoga class a week but can tell from my mind and body that I have not done enough. I miss yoga.

After this race I have a few months to begin reconnecting to my practice. I’m determined to immerse myself in yoga this summer. I’ve been accepted in Baron Baptiste’s Level 1 Teacher Training taking place this August in the Catskills. A week of learning and growing. I am excited to take this next step. To be accountable for only myself for a week. To leave my comfort zone. To push myself mentally and physically on my mat instead of on the road or trails for a change. To replenish my soul and then ultimately to come back ready to give and share.

Whether found in quiet focus on one’s yoga mat or flying through a dirt trail in the woods, life’s essential purpose can be discovered through learning, growing and sharing. How do you choose to push yourself, to grow and to live most fully?