More and more runners are finding themselves seeking out a yoga practice to accompany their running schedule. Runners of all ages, abilities, and fitness levels have noticed an increase in their flexibility, endurance, and calm state of mind after spending time on their yoga mat. Yoga studios are abundant in most cities throughout the country and taking an in-person class is a wonderful way to learn. If taking a studio class isn’t for you, there are countless DVDs and yoga content online that offer high-quality instruction. Let’s start by looking at the many wonderful benefits that yoga should offer.
How Yoga Benefits For Runners
Runners are known for having tight muscles and, unfortunately, being prone to injuries. Establishing a regular yoga practice can help runners to maintain their bodies so they are able to run freely and remain injury-free. The mental aspects and the focus of breathwork also benefit runners. Especially in the case of long-distance runners and triathletes, a strong mental focus and a steady breath pattern are keys to success.
Suggested Yoga Poses for Runners
- Downward Facing Dog
- BaddhaKonasana (Bound Angle)
- Head to Knee Pose
- Wide-Legged Forward Fold
The goal of choosing yoga poses to specifically help runners is to focus on loosening the hamstring muscles, releasing tension around the hips, and promoting all-around proper alignment. The above poses, done on a regular basis, will allow runners to feel lighter and longer and ready for their next run.
Preparing for Class
When preparing for a yoga class, be sure to wear comfortable clothing that promotes ease of movement. Yoga involves a good amount of stretching and turning the body in various positions, so students will feel more comfortable in clothing that allows them to move freely.
A yoga mat is a great piece of equipment to enhance the yoga experience. Runners need to be especially careful that they do not put too much pressure on their knees, and a thick yoga mat can ensure that knees stay safe. Most yoga studios will provide props such as blankets, blocks or straps. Home yoga practitioners can use rolled up towels, small pillows and the like to cushion joints.
Many yoga students feel more energized during their practice if they have a small snack before class. It is also important to stay hydrated before, during, and after practicing yoga.
It is important to start out slow and not push to the point of injury. Yoga practice is not necessarily designed to be easy. Instead, it is meant to allow each student the opportunity to find their edge and allow their body to soften and relax over time. It is ideal to practice yoga daily, even if that means a few quick stretches upon waking and again just before bed.
Some runners may find the focus and muscle control inherent to yoga to be quite like how they feel while on a run. Many students begin taking yoga classes to boost their performance on the trail, but find that they enjoy the practice so much that they look forward to it for reasons outside of its athletic benefits.