Benefits of Yoga for Runners
If you like to jog or run, try adding some yoga each week to improve your workouts. I took up yoga about 2 years ago to help me with my running. I just heard that it was good for stretching your legs, and as a runner…I thought this would be great for my tight hamstrings. Little did I know, yoga is about much more than stretching. It teaches you how to breathe, how to take you mind of your body and yes, how to stretch out those muscles properly. During a basic vinyasa flow or ashtanga class (what I teach) you go through a series of poses/flows in a sequence. If you have taken this type of yoga before (it’s the most popular) then you have probably been instructed when to breathe by the instructor. She or he will say “inhale as you place you foot here” or “exhale to down dog”. As you take more and more yoga classes, the breathing will become second nature. This is similar to running. Many beginning runners struggle with breathing and thus, they are not able to reach their full potential either with speed or distance. Breathing fuels your body with oxygen and gives your muscles the life and energy they need to get you through the run. Yoga is also great for lengthening your muscles and improving your flexibility. So often runners get tight hip flexors, hamstrings and quads. About 80% of yoga poses will stretch or flex one or more of these areas. “Pigeon” pose is my favorite pose for runners. Check it out Here
*Tip: To stretch out your quads, reach back with your left hand and grab your left foot (or right hand to right foot if right leg is back). Gently bring the left foot towards your hips and this will stretch out your left quad. Repeat this position on the other side:
Don’t be intimidated by yoga. If you’ve never tried a class before, look for a gym or yoga studio that offers beginner or “all-levels” type classes. I always get students with a wide range of experience levels in my classes and most likely, there will be someone in the class with less experience and/or flexibility than you. Just make sure not to push yourself too hard in any position/pose. Yoga should never be painful!