Running through the streets of Richmond, Virginia on a crisp fall morning, I felt hope. The last few months have been draining on our nation. People have been hurting, emotionally and physically, and a sense of division and despair rests in the air.

But yesterday, I saw my city transform. On race day, it did not matter what the color of your skin was or how you cast your ballot, the city united. The streets were filled with loved ones cheering everyone on. “You have to do everything you can to motivate everyone around you” are the words from the sideline that got me through one of my toughest miles towards the end.

Running and yoga are seen as an “individual” practices. To me, that could not be further from true. From signs, water stops, live music, and even junk food stops, the entire city was working towards a common goal, to support one another to the finish line. When you are running, at some point, a voice inside your head is going to want you to quit. But the people around you are what get you through the doubt at those long distances. Your community is there to believe in you when you don’t believe in yourself.

Just like life, we are the ones moving our feet one step at time. But the people around us are what keep us moving. Through the Richmond Marathon, I experienced the way that running transforms not only the individual, helping them believe in themselves, but an entire community.

Working at Project Yoga Richmond, I see this transformation on a regular basis through the practice of yoga. I see the way students breathe during class encourages one anther during practice. When people walk into our studio or I visit an outreach program, I see their faces transform from the moment they step on to the second they step off of the mat. I see how they carry themselves differently throughout the day and have a positive impact on one another after the fact.

Having Project Yoga Richmond at the finish line to help runners recover after a challenging race demonstrated the need to not only support each other through challenges but to help each other heal and recover. Both are equally important, and both are necessary to sustain our community through everything that life throws at us.

As each person crossed the finish line and unrolled their mats, it was a tribute to the Richmond community coming together and supporting one another, and helping each other heal, no matter what. Yesterday, Richmond gave me hope. We will get through whatever comes our way, together.


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