I’ve been a runner for over ten years now, and have completed three full marathons, one ultra-marathon, and countless half marathons. Nowadays don’t do so much racing, just short runs in my beautiful neighborhood, for the sake of running. It is a joy to be able to run! Before and after a run it is a must for me to have a yoga session, even if it’s only 5 minutes. So, let’s get down to business - Running and Yoga! You’ve seen articles, and suggested poses, but here’s a short list of 5 BIG ways yoga can REALLY help your run!
1. Develops Muscular Strength –
While yoga is not weightlifting, in the tradition sense, you are putting your body in many positions that need the support of your muscles, you essentially are lifting your own body weight during much of your practice. Because of this, yoga tones muscles all over the body, and it does so in a balance, harmonized way. In weight training, you often isolate one muscles or group at a time, and while yoga does this as well, most postures work a variety of muscles and groups. In many types of yoga you also hold poses for an extended period of time, this, in turn also helps with muscle endurance - an added plus!
2. Improves Flexibility –
A common phrase is, “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.” And it’s sort of funny because this is EXACTLY why you should do yoga. Any amount of yoga can help your flexibility. Stretching your body is always beneficial, and with regular practice you will see results where you begin to improve your flexibility. By having more flexibility, you give your muscles and joints a greater range of motion. A supple, flexible body is less prone to injuries because it can better withstand physical stress.
3. Sharpens Mental Focus –
Yoga holds the power to transform our minds as much as it does our bodies and running, especially racing, is a VERY mental sport. The breathing and meditative exercises of yoga aim at calming the mind and body and keeping distracting thoughts away while you focus on your body, posture, breath, and the task at hand. By learning to keep your mind pointing forward, in the direction you choose, you find the mental focus and control to truly run on your own terms.
4. Upgrades Balance -
In yoga you hold poses that help you become aware of the shifts in your focus and how those show up in your body. You learn true body and breath control keeping yourself steady in mind and body. This translates very well to running as the roads change and you are bound to make an unexpected stop, maneuver through a water station at a race, or run into some other issue that causes your focus to shift and your body control to be tested. By being more in tune with your body you are more likely to avoid injury. Improving your balance by holding standing postures in yoga also tremendously helps your ankle strength which is crucial to running.
5. Skyrockets Breathing Efficiency -
Yoga is all about breathing and obviously breathing is very important to running! In yoga there are many types of breathing exercises and techniques you can use, and a runner could benefit for any one of them! Learning to truly breathe deeply and mindfully is incredibly beneficial for a runner.
All of these benefits help reduce the chance of injury for runners, so I say WHY NOT?! Give it a try, mix a little yoga in with your running! If you are wondering, “How in the world do I start?” check out @yogacamp on Instagram for our upcoming #YogaCampGoesRunning challenge that just started November 10th!
Yoga Camp Travel and Media Specialist
Our latest Yoga Camp Instagram Yoga Challenge, play along -- it's for a good cause!