As a runner, you have to be physically and mentally tough. You have to find your rhythm and control the breath. You also need to be able to constantly condition your muscles and tend to any strain or soreness. Yoga for runners can assist in all of those things. Furthermore, it can help you increase time and distance, and keep you healthy long term. Let’s discover why and how to incorporate yoga into a runners routine.
How Can Yoga Benefit Me as a Runner?
Yoga for runners has so many great benefits. “Runners can use yoga practice to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. Asanas move your body through gravitational dimensions while teaching you how to coordinate your breath with each subtle movement. The eventual result is that your body, mind, and breath are integrated in all actions. Through consistent and systematic asana conditioning, you can engage, strengthen, and place demands on all of your intrinsic muscle groups, which support and stabilize the skeletal system. This can offset the effects of the runner’s one-dimensional workouts.” Baron Baptiste & Kathleen Finn Mendola, Yoga Journal
Why Should I Incorporate Yoga Into my Running Routine?
By making yoga a regular practice, you can:
- Increase your physical and mental toughness.
- Gain better breath control.
- Condition muscles and speed up recovery.
- Prevent injury for long term health.
All of these things will help increase the time and distance of your runs.
1. Increase Your Physical and Mental Toughness
Have you ever tried to hold Downward Dog for any length of time? Ironically, as many yogis know, it’s actually considered a resting posture. The pose forces you to find correct alignment, engage the core, and connect with your breath (in addition to strengthening all sorts of other muscles in the meantime). It builds physical and mental strength, much like that which is needed on a long run.
2. Gain Better Breath Control
In order to make it through a yoga practice, you must learn breath control. Asanas teach you how to connect the physical movement with the breath. The more you do that, the easier it becomes to pick up the pace while staying engaged. It becomes second nature. Learning how to stay engaged and connected to the breath in a pose or posture is something that will easily translate into your next run. It’s a runner’s tool that you can’t go without.
3. Condition Muscles and Speed up Recovery
Runners generally use the same muscles over and over again in their runs. This can put a particular strain on your body if not conditioned properly. Yoga makes a great warm up and cool down routine that will help you properly condition your muscles and also aid in recovery after a run. Regular practice will help stretch and strengthen the muscles, making your body ready to hit the pavement any time.
4. Prevent Injury for Long Term Health
Adam St. Pierre, a coach and exercise physiologist for the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine, says “The strength and flexibility you develop on the mat–namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors–can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free.”
Runners who neglect proper training or who don’t tend to muscle conditioning and recovery will often times find themselves victim to injury. Not only do injuries bring your running to a halt, it makes it that much harder to get back to where you were before. Having a regular yoga practice can help prevent those injuries and keep you moving.
Okay, I’m convinced… Now where do I start?
For a quick reference, check out SELF magazine’s list of 10 Yoga Poses for Runners. It’s a great resource for learning how to do the pose and what benefits you can gain from each of them. Pick which ones work for you or incorporate all of them into your next workout.
This Yoga for Runners YouTube playlist by Adriene Mishler has something for all athletic levels and various lengths to accommodate the days you don’t have much time. There’s a video for everything, including warm up and cool down sequences, full body practices, stretches, and specific body work like feet, hamstrings, and legs.
Now that you know how yoga for runners can be beneficial, and you have a few places to start, there’s no excuse. Grab a mat and tend to it. Your whole body will thank you!
Have you experienced the benefit of yoga for runners? What’s your go-to pose or sequence? Share with us in the comments below!