Yoga Chi Running Weekend Retreat

The idea for this weekend retreat started with a phone call I received from London based Chi Running coach Balavan Thomas, who proposed a workshop collaboration. I said it all sounded very interesting but first I needed to find out what Chi Running actually was!! After some reading I discovered I was already doing it, (see me running here!) that Chi Running has taken many of it’s core principles from yoga and tai chi. I resonated with it completely, having developed and improved my own running technique by incorporating elements of my yoga practice. I’ve led many running and yoga holidays to share the benefits of yoga for runners, but to actually have a coach teach a group how to run properly as well would be the perfect combination. It was planned and everything came together for the weekend – with sunshine and blue skies in Cornwall, as though it was meant to be!

My classes over the weekend covered areas that I always focus on for runners, particularly core and hip strength and hamstring and hip release, plus corresponding ideas with Chi Running in breathing and posture. I could see there were numerous similarities: alignment, stand in Tadasana for perfect posture and keep this alignment when running, just lean and land mid-foot; core strength, gently draw in your lower abdominals (uddiyana bandha), and maintain this when running. This is the key principle of Chi Running – run with a strong core and you can relax your legs. Yes, run by relaxing your legs! I love the principles behind Chi Running because it really does make running feel effortless. Use your arms more, especially when running up hill and practise yoga to strengthen them; strengthen your core and hips to keep them aligned and protect your spine and knees. In Chi Running the hips stay aligned, which is easy with a good amount of core strength, but the pelvis is allowed to rotate so that the foot is taken straight back behind you in a circular motion.

Balavan led us through a series of drills to practise these elements, and we brought them all together, running over glorious terrain on the dunes and on the beach barefoot. The weekend was fuelled with delicious vegan food from Falmouth based chef Nicola Willis of Pea Souk fame. The feedback from the group was so great that we are already planning dates for another Yoga Chi Running weekend. Sign up to the newsletter to hear more!