Yoga and Running: How Angeline Yeo Finds True Bliss by Combining the Two
Angeline Yeo is a "girly girl". Her heart melts at the sight of roses. Sounds of raindrops on tin roofs are enough to induce bliss. But don't let Angeline's feminine side fool you into thinking she's one dimensional. Far from it.
Angeline's self-love and acceptance journey belies the 22 years she's been on this earth, and she makes no apologies about being an idealist, dreamer and self-proclaimed perfectionist. Do these personality traits conflict? Of course not. Angeline's aspirations to be one of Singapore's top yoga teachers is not an over-reach. Confidence? She has more than most. Don't be surprised if that confidence peeks through questions we posed on a recent afternoon when the conversation turned to everything from her journey of enlightenment to her future aspirations.
RS: How did you become enamored with Yoga?
Angeline: I discovered Yoga two years ago, but feel I was born to it. I was at university, during that confusing freshman year when everyone is trying to get their bearings, when I happened upon Yoga because I was not sleeping. I was incapable of handling so much stress and I wasn't eating properly. Imagine my surprise when I found one solution to many problems.
RS: Sounds like an easy fix. Are you saying there were no challenges when you adopted Yoga?
Angeline: There were big challenges. First, I had to stop telling myself that this is a journey to be reached fast. Yoga is a lifelong journey not a quick fix. I had to conquer my lack of patience and stop thinking about end results. I had to learn to slow down mentally and physically, but my life changed immediately so I was motivated to keep going.
RS: You're also a runner. How does Yoga impact competitive running? They don't seem compatible.
Angeline: Oh, but they are. When you train your body, you train your mind. I wanted to win races when I was younger. My fondest memory is of the 2009 Nike Human Race. I was still in JC and finished a two-day school competition (5km on day one; 7km on day two). By the third day, a last 10km stretch was a breakthrough test of endurance, despite my aching body. I persevered and enjoyed new-found confidence. Not bad for a 16-year-old girl!
RS: Do you still run?
Angeline: I do, but not competitively. I know I couldn't be great were it not for my Yoga training.
RS: Can you explain how the two mesh? In one, you're racing wildly toward a finish line; in the other, there's stillness and tranquility.
Angeline: (Laughs). When I ran in the past, in addition to a personal running schedule, I experienced more than my fair share of recurring ankle injuries because I wasn't preparing properly and Yoga has filled in the missing element, helping get my mind and body ready to run. I learned to recover faster because I'm aware of my posture, alignment and flexibility. Injuries? That's history for me.
RS: You've convinced me. So, what style of Yoga would you recommend to other runners if they want to experience the benefits you enjoy?
Angeline: I practice Vinyasa Yoga most, because it is dynamic. Vinyasa Yoga emphasizes the relationship between breathing and movement. A runner can't help but be acutely aware of her breathing, and, by practicing Yoga techniques, movement is lighter. Vinyasa Yoga also boosts stamina and gets the heart pumping. It's a marriage made in running heaven.
RS: If Vinyasa Yoga were not an option, what type of Yoga would you recommend to women who run and want to use it to enhance performance, stamina and style?
Angeline: Yin Yoga. True, it is the opposite of Vinyasa Yoga since it's a more static style focusing on loosening major joints and stretching muscles. Three to five minute Yin poses help runners release toxic tension from joints. Many people assume runners don't get tense, but believe me, we hold plenty of tension in our hips, lower backs and hamstrings.
RS: So, you're obviously a big believer that Yoga benefits runners.
Angeline: Let me count the ways! Yoga can improve one's concentration, flexibility and coordination, leading to less injury, even when tackling the toughest marathons on the planet.
RS: Why does it seem that Yoga is practiced more by women even outside the running game? Do you think male runners could benefit from Yoga to help avoid running injuries?
Angeline: I haven't made a lot of converts, but I confess to sharing Yoga secrets with male runners, and I think I've convinced a few. I appeal to men who share their injury history with me, and I believe that made them more willing to give it a try. It's the perfect complement to any man's fitness regimen.
RS: Any tips to share with male and female readers on getting started?
Angeline: I always suggest online resources like YouTube, YogaGlo and DoYouYoga. A beginner can get immediate gratification by following along. I also remind them that contrary to myth, one needn't even be flexible to do yoga. One does yoga to become flexible! I suggest a yoga studio or yoga classes at gyms or health clubs when someone is ready to learn more. And there's only one piece of equipment required: a mat.
RS: I've always wondered if Yoga is similar to Pilates?
Angeline: The biggest difference between the two is the spiritual aspect of Yoga. I'm no different than others who have tried both and realized that Yoga offers layer upon layer of benefits that include learning to become compassionate, letting go of the past and living in the present. Pilates doesn't offer benefits like this. Another difference is that there are fewer standing poses and more floor work.
RS: Our running readers would like to know how often you practice Yoga to enhance your running experience? Also, are there common mistakes they can avoid?
Angeline: I wouldn't presume to tell runners, "You should spend this much time on Yoga", because everyone's schedule is unique. I do Yoga as often as time and circumstance allow. That can mean my regular class or if I'm extremely stressed. This should interest your readers: I do yoga to cool down after a run because Yoga reduces muscle aches. I always suggest that new yogis or first-time yogis try out yoga at a yoga class because there is a yoga instructor to check on your alignment and help you along.
RS: How about age? You've convinced us that cross-training — Yoga and running — is an ideal combination, but is it suitable for people of all ages or just youngsters like you?
Angeline: They're perfection together at every age. I've met 80-something runners who credit Yoga with keeping injury at bay, sustaining their run times and adding to their stamina. You can't argue with this kind of vitality.
RS: I feel enlightened just talking to you, and I must say that it's still hard to believe you're only 22. Could you share a final philosophical tidbit with us?
Angeline: I can't take credit for wisdom my teacher taught me, but I do share this sentiment frequently:
"If you can breathe, you can do yoga."
I love to share my passion, and, when I learn that my suggestion to discover Yoga leads a runner to making the connection, well, that's when I feel like a true Yogi.
As editors, we work hard to convey the spirit of runners we interview, but frankly, Angeline is in a league of her own. Being in her presence reminds us that age is relative and that while runners come from different worlds, each adds a unique perspective, helping us showcase ways in which the sport enhances lives. We intend to follow Angeline as she continues her spiritual quest and conclude with this question: Has our interview inspired you to consider adding Yoga to your life?
Do you wish to get inspired and know more about Yoga and Angeline? Follow her enticing blog - sassyyogi where she share interesting Yoga tips and techniques frequently.