"Yoga is not about touching your toes. It’s about unlocking your ideas about what you want, where you think you can go, and how you will achieve when you get there”, says Cyndi Lee, founder of OM yoga, an internationally recognized method of yoga. As runners we get fixed on logging our miles, dropping our time and sometimes focus on buying lighter gear so as to ‘improve’. We don’t care so much about being able to touch our toes as long as we speed up when we move from point A to point B. We forget that the best way to improve is from the inside out!
Developing mind strength, core strength and being able to recover quickly are often overlooked but can lead to the most powerful and impressive improvements in performance for runners.
Recovery is just as important as the training you put in. Recovering properly helps you stay injury free too, because what makes an athlete exceed others during races is how quickly they ‘recover’ from their workouts. During exercise, especially running, we tighten up and the muscles create a lot of tension. Yoga releases that energy and lubricates the body, helping it get rid of accumulated lactic acid. Yogi’s have been talking about the benefits of yoga for years. Now, we are starting to realize that it may be the key to unlocking a bottomless energy source that will not only improve running times, but our life in all aspects.
Veronica Menin was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and moved to the United States when she was 14 years old. She has not only harnessed the energy that yoga unleashes, but has enjoyed the benefits of yoga on her performance as an avid athlete. She has gracefully blended her passion for all things active, eating right and ‘doing good’ for the world by finding her center, her balance and creating a place to help others do so as well.
One day a couple years ago she found herself facing challenging times. She set out for a run, never having done so before. It was a time of transition where she needed to figure out what direction she wanted to go in her life. She discovered that attempting on each run to get to a building further and further along the beach was the only way she felt she could quiet her mind long enough to hear what her heart was telling her to do. Now she finds that it is the way she processes emotions. “I’m the type of person that just takes off (to run)”. She went from running a mile a day, slowly working her way up to 10 and 13 miles as many as three times a week at some points. In 2009 she completed the Miami Half Marathon in 1:58. Besides running, she practices yoga avidly, is a passionate cyclist, strong swimmer, paddle-boarder, surfer and scuba-diver.
Veronica has as many talents as yoga has poses….she is also a cook, vegan sweets baker, a dietitian and health coach, an entrepreneur and a person who lives conscious of her footprint on this world. She is one of those people in our community that has made it a life mission to make the world a better place whether it be through a redeemed social condition or a healthy child or adult.
A couple years ago, around the time she took up running, she was tired of the 9 to 5 life and wanted to pursue a passion that brought her fulfillment. Veronica has always loved sweets, but was also aware of their negative effects. While experimenting with natural ingredients and baking healthy treats for herself, Veronica created indulgent recipes that she wanted to share with the world. That is when Peace A’ Cake (www.peace-a-cake.com) was born. Her goal is “to contribute to a healthier society through Peace A’ Cake with recipes that only include 100% natural ingredients, meaning everything comes directly from nature without being processed or hurting our health and planet.” Her beautifully packaged sweets include the words: “Love Your Planet. Love yourself”.
She also founded Conscious Bite Out (www.consciousbiteout.com), a conscious dining series in Miami. Working with her partner open minded people, who are passionate about food and who want to share in a fun, healthier dining-out experience meet every month at The Sacred Space, for what she describes as a “Conscious Bite Out filled with deliciously healthy food and inspiringly good talk.”
Though happy with her work and the development of her projects, she had another idea brewing deep in the back of her mind. It was something she envisioned doing one day on a small Island or somewhere in South or Central America when she retired. The idea was to create a place where people could find a better version of themselves or retreat from life for a couple hours to find happiness in rediscovering themselves. Every so often she would bring the idea to surface, but it would get filed away under “Things to do when I retire”.
Love Life Wellness Center
The idea was continually filed away because of the fear it seemed too big. “A miracle is a shift in perspective from fear to love”, she maintains. On a fateful cruise with friend and Yoga Guru, Megan Elizabeth, Veronica found herself talking about the wonderful heart opening yoga they had experienced: an idea was sparked. Veronica had always admired Megan’s ability to inspire others, and her ability to help each of them embrace their potential. Veronica knew that together they would be able to assist people in the community to accomplish their dreams and experience the joy that is discovered through living passionately. The idea she had been filing away, no longer seemed so distant.
On docking back in reality, they partnered up with Elizabeth’s boyfriend Nicolas Villada, a yogi Chef who had committed to teacher training after seeing the amazing results of practicing yoga on a consistent basis. He joined the women to turn this spark into a beautiful bonfire! They fueled that fire with their talents and their energy. When asked about what they had created, Veronica humbly answered: “This is a place to do yoga, see art, eat fresh and delicious foods and drinks, while connecting with like-minded people, hang out at our library, get a massage, or get health coaching session or pick up a detox program. We are a full circle place, with several different styles of yoga. One of them being Yoga for athletes.” That’s it. It sounds like the kind of place we all need to be at.
“Where there is love there is light”…….this center is most certainly full of both. This radiates from the love with which the space has been created including hand-made locally produced decorations, to the light within each person walking in, glowing stronger and brighter with every breath, every pose and every exchange of positive energy.
The center was named, Love Life Wellness Center, because the founders say “We are given so many reasons to ‘love life’, but we focus on the reasons that deter us from doing so. The center was built to help us in the community ‘love’ ourselves, love each other, and love life more deeply at every moment”.
So, as a runner, what is in it for us? If you visit the wellness center, you get a one month free trial to test out its effects on your running. You can find out if, in fact, you can feel the effects of increased flexibility on your stride length, or find little aches and pains in your hips slowly disappear as you strengthen the tiny muscles that we never work while running and yet which so crucially affect us daily.
Try it at home, at work or on a run. Be warned, you may discover a deeper connection to ‘the you’ you were always meant to be. Be Present. Always. Yoga helps us during a run. We learn about being in the present moment, not thinking about the miles we have done, or worrying about the ones to come. We focus on the one moment.
A book on the coffee table as you enter the center includes the following quote: “The start to a better world or a better future is simply the belief that it is possible. Self-confidence can work wonders but mutual confidence can work miracles. Perhaps, no matter what kind of challenge lies before you, if somebody believes in you, and you believe in your dream, it can happen”.
Testament to the success of the projects in Veronica’s life have been because of her vision and the support from those around her who love and admire her. As Diego Tosoni says:
“One of the many qualities that I admire the most about Veronica is that behind every action are good intentions; whether she is cycling, running, or sharing her passion about eating and living consciously. She always has the best intentions”.
Our overall wellness is continuously under construction. We fortify it every day with the choices we make. Whether you want to run a faster 5k or find yourself more at peace, you need to make choices that will strengthen you, help you find balance and make you more flexible and able to deal with all the ‘poses’ life puts us in. Veronica and her partners have created a center for just that. A center to help us ground ourselves, unload life’s negative baggage, and allow ourselves to find the talented, inspiring and strongest version of us that is somewhere within each of us. The version waiting for the opportunity to shine through.
The runner within me honors the runner within you,