Dating back over 5,000 years, yoga is the oldest defined practice of self-development. And running, like other types of exercise, is a great stress-reliever. Combine these two practices and the physical, mental and emotional benefits are boundless. As you already know, running is my drug of choice, however with two half marathons and the New York City Marathon topping my 2013 bucket list I am determined to add a yoga addiction to my workout regimen. So when I met Claudia Robinson of Back On My Feet (a national nonprofit organization that uses running to help those experiencing homelessness change the way they see themselves so they can make real change in their lives that results in employment and independent living) I was more than convinced that yoga is everything I need.
Flex And Flow
So as you know running is a repetitive exercise. And when done frequently it can lead to excessively tight and even imbalanced leg muscles. However don’t throw your sneakers out just yet! Yoga can undoubtedly help reverse this problem. The popular practice helps loosen, properly align and lengthen all the muscles of the body. Add a yogaflow to your regimen and your runs will become more efficient and less injury prone. Hollaback hip, back and knee pain.
Cross Training On The Mat
One of the main mistakes runners make is skipping their cross training. But hey…yoga can save the day here too! Outside of the flexibility and alignment focused benefits yoga can also serve as a legitimate-heart-pumping-cross training-workout (say that five times fast). With forms such as Ashtanga, Power Yoga, and Bikram topping the charts you can burn anywhere from 500-1000 calories per 90 minute session. Not bad right? Find the best yoga practice for you.
Meditate. Breathe. Release.
Inhale. Exhale. Breathe through it. Yoga’s emphasis on controlled breath helps to strengthen the respiratory system, and this precision of breath can also relieve tension while running. Those hills wont seem so hard and that last mile will be over before you know it when you are able to “ride” on your breath.
Be In The Moment
Both running and yoga teach us to focus on the present moment. When mindfulness is invited to the party we are able to focus on the task at hand and eliminate worry, doubt, fear, etc. I certainly run to release (P.S. it’s cheaper than therapy) so go for it, lace up and let loose.
Release And Restore
Now that you know yoga can double as your cross training workout let me introduce you to its other top perks: release and restore. A consistent practice of relaxing and restorative poses can help you recover faster after long runs and hard workouts. Try poses like Supported Fish, Legs-up-the-wall Pose, Corpse Pose, Pigeon Pose and Child’s Pose for deep muscle relaxation.