If you are a runner, including a regular yoga class as part of your training can help you run longer, stronger and faster.
Although running is great exercise on its own it can take a toll on your body. A typical runner experiences a lot of impact during exercise, which leads to the tightening and shortening of muscles. With not nearly enough soothing, lengthening, and loosening, many runners find that their muscles begin to tighten over time, and their joints begin to ache. This can often cause chronic pain resulting from repeated injuries. Many runners routinely complain about sore knees, hamstrings and sore backs, often resulting from the intense strain that runners put their bodies through. The pain they endure isn't necessarily from the force of their feet hitting the ground but from the imbalance caused by running.
Combining a regular yoga practice with running has been known to improve balance, flexibility, coordination, concentration and endurance, thus reducing the risk of injury and reducing recovery time after races.
Breathe, and let go
In yoga practice we are taught to breathe through our noses, keeping our lips together. The breath-work central to yoga practice can help to increase your awareness of breath, lung capacity, and blood circulation. Regular yoga workouts improve aerobic capacity through a combination of intense poses and deep breathing allowing breath deep into the pit of your lungs; something many of us who run don’t do very often. This results in an oxygen-rich supply of blood being transported to your muscles, which is then turned into energy. Because the majority of us breathe through our mouths, we never really use our lungs to their full capacity. As you begin to practice yoga breathing techniques, your lung capacity will increase which will automatically increase your stamina.
Away with bad thoughts
Yoga also allows you to rid yourself of negative thoughts and stress. It teaches you to relax. As such, your practice will help free your mind so that your running becomes more enjoyable, and you become less occupied with the millions of thoughts swirling around your head; allowing you to practice being mindful and present, in the moment, and running freely.
Although yoga and running lie on opposite ends of the exercise spectrum, both exercises partner strength and flexibility in some of the most optimal ways. Often with running one tends to focus only on certain muscle groups, such as legs and core, whereas yoga focuses on working the body as a whole. By stretching and loosening your muscles, you will find that yoga helps you to run better, longer, and faster with less pain or risk of injury. Integrating various yoga poses into your workouts as a warm-up as well as a post run cool-down is also beneficial. It’s the yin and yang of exercise, and they complement and reinforce each other in perfect harmony.
Try these yoga poses to improve your running:
Downward-Facing Dog Hero Pose or Reclining Hero Pose Warrior I Pose Half Twist Pose
Try and find a local class where they’ll take you through the different poses, or an online class you can do at your own pace, so as to build up your strength and stamina. After a few classes running will seem like a breeze, but chances are you’ll be hooked on yoga.