Why runners should be Yogis as well!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Good Evening Everyone,

Yay for being only 1.5 hours from Friday!! Half-marathon training is off to a great start! I did another 3 mile run today, and have a 5 miler planned for Saturday. I have already started to encounter a few aches in my lower half. Another lovely gift from my flat feet and uneven legs! After my run today, my left hip was feeling extremely tight, so I took advantage of the fact that I was teaching yoga this evening and gave it a good stretch. I really don't think my body would allow me to run if I didn't teach yoga as well! It really makes a huge difference in how my knees, hips, and lower back feel. We all know that we should be doing yoga to reduce stress, increase flexibility, and improve our mind body connection, but the fact that it can help us improve our running performance is yet another bonus!

According to yogajournal.com, "During the course of an average mile run, your foot will strike the ground 1,000 times. The force of impact on each foot is about three to four times your body weight." No wonder so many runners complain of bad backs, achy knees, tight hamstrings, and sore feet! Most of these lovely pains are not actually from running itself, but from imbalances that running causes and exacerbates. Have no fear because yoga can help bring your body into balance so you can run long and hard for many many years to come.

The benefits of yoga for runners:
  • Striking Balance. Yoga poses for runners correct muscle imbalances resulting from strenuous muscle training. A more balanced body can handle more stress and run without stressing the body.
  • Relaxation. Asanas and Pranayama breathing fine tunes our nervous systems and provides the body with much needed relaxation after a run. Pranayama practice slows the heartbeat and reduces blood pressure, producing calm and a sense of stability. End your yoga practice with ten to fifteen minutes of deep relaxation in shava asana (coupled with deep breathing) to relax muscle tension and recover your poise and energy. Sitting still for this long might be hard for some but it will be well worth your time!
  • Self Awareness. While running, you can aim for perfect co-ordination of body, mind and breathing. Make your mind quiet and focus on your body. This self awareness and breath control is possible through yoga. You can concentrate on a rhythm between your running, your body and your breath rather than worrying about the outcome of the race. This will be especially useful for marathon runners. Think of it as helping you "get in the zone."
  • Flexibility. You can start yoga even if your body is not flexible. Regular yoga practice will make your body more flexible over a period of time. I hate it when people say, "Oh, I can't do yoga because I'm not flexible enough."
  • Reduces Chances of Injury. A regular yoga practice can reduce your chances of injury by improving your mental health, flexibility and relaxing of muscles. Yoga increases flexibility and it helps to prevent injury. In case you are suffering form injuries due to your running, yoga practice can help you to recover faster. I know how frustrating it can be when your injured and the doctor says, "you really need to lay off the running for a little while." You think to yourself, "has he lost his ever loving mind??"
  • Pranayama Increases Your Oxygen Capacity. Most of us are shallow breathers, not utilising the full capacity of our lungs, thereby less oxygen is absorbed by our lungs in a single breath. A regular practice with pranayama can increase your breathing capacity resulting in more oxygen supply to your blood. This oxygen rich blood can boost performance and endurance for runners. A yoga practice will make your breath more deep and rhythmic. By focusing on your breath while running will help you to have a convenient breathing pattern to support your running.
  • Conserve Your Energy. Proper relaxation, concentration and quieting the mind of undue fluctuation results in conserving your energy. Yoga also enables you a level of awareness whereby you can let go of things not important and thus conserve your energy. As your endurance builds and your lung capacity increases, the body becomes more efficient.
  • Stretching And Breathing. Stretching is best done after your run as it removes stiffness of muscles, tones the body and stimulates circulation. Deep breathing along with stretching are essential components of yoga for runners. This helps people to maintain strength and flexibility. For warm up before the run, walk briskly.
Source: http://www.yoga-for-beginners-a-practical-guide.com/yoga-for-runners.html

If all of those benefits don't convince you to add yoga to your training program, nothing will! Tomorrow, I will go over the best poses (asanas) for runners!!

Food for thought:
If you are a runner who currently practices yoga, which benefits do you see the most?
If you are not currently practicing yoga, what's holding you back?

Yours truly,

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1 Comment »

One Response to “Why runners should be Yogis as well!”

  1. I am faithful to my yoga practice, but continue to tighten despite my efforts due to this autoimmune situation. I have reintroduced the exercise ball back into my routine and that is really helping to open everything up. The ball paired with the yoga is some serious stretching. I wish you luck in your marathon training! Hope your lower half gets feeling better :)


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