How good is Yoga for runners?
Yoga is the physical, mental, and spiritual practice of attaining a state of inner peace. Running is the physical action of moving your body forward very quickly.
So, what does one have to do with the other? Why would runners want to practice yoga?
On the surface, yoga and running seem like two very different types of exercise, but in fact they work very well together.
Yoga is all about inner peace, mental health and stretching. A runner needs these disciplines to increase stamina, flexibility and performance.
Running pumps up your adrenaline and works your cardiovascular system. Yoga helps you come down from this rush and relax.
Plus, the stretching exercises help your muscles become more flexible which will prevent injury. Combining yoga and running also helps you breathe better.
teaches you how to breathe from deep down inside, which is vital for
endurance and healthy lungs.
Polls indicate that approximately 73 percent of runners don't practice yoga. This is surprising because yoga is so beneficial for overall good health.
It is especially
beneficial for runners because they are so prone to injury. Most runners
stretch out before and after a run, but stretching exercises don't give
you the inner peace, discipline and breathing practice you get from
A runner has to be flexible. There is no better way to stretch your muscles and get the flexibility you need than with yoga.
Swimming, cycling and weight training focus on strength and endurance,
but don't help much with flexibility. All of these exercises can lead to
serious injuries if your muscles aren't flexible enough to handle the
Aside from physical stress on your body, yoga also relieves mental stress. Running for pleasure is a great way to relieve mental stress, but it doesn't help when you are training for a race.
The pressure of getting faster and running farther actually puts more stress on your brain than you may realize.
Yoga teaches you how to focus and attain true inner peace, which is very helpful on long runs when you have to control your emotions, no matter how badly your body aches.
Additionally, the poses you learn help strengthen your muscles,
especially your feet muscles. Learning how to endure these intense poses
helps you endure a long run.
If you are new to yoga, don't get overly ambitious or you could get hurt and frustrated. The rest of the class may be able to turn their bodies into human pretzels while you can't even touch your toes, but that's okay.
Just do what you can.
Trying to do too much too soon will result in an injury.
There are all types of yoga styles. No style is best for everyone, so you have to shop around to find one that suits you.
If the instructor, general vibe or pace of the class turns you off, move on. Consistency is more important than the type. If you aren't comfortable with the class or instructor, you probably won't be as consistent as you should.
The best yoga class is one with an instructor that understands the special training needs of a runner. What name the yoga style has been given doesn't matter.
Your yoga sessions should complement your running training. During intense training times to ramp up mileage, stick with relaxing sessions that stretch out your muscles and keep you flexible.
When your training is less intense, increase the intensity and frequency of your yoga workouts. Doing rigorous yoga sessions on top of other high powered workouts will prevent your body from recovering properly and could result in injuries.
It can take years to master yoga techniques. Don't be too hard on yourself if you can't seem to keep up with the rest of the class. Just do your best.
You will be amazed at how much yoga can help you train for a big run and improve your overall health.