Cross training is a great supplement to a running routine, and with small studios popping up, and with gyms and even churches adding classes to their schedule, yoga is quickly earning its place at the top of supplemental fitness options.
Yoga is not just a “stretching” class. Its goal is to create an integrated, balanced body. Running is a repetitive motion sport of forward movement that uses the same sets of muscles over and over. Over time, this repetition creates crowding at joint sites, overuse injuries, and nagging “conversations” in the runner’s legs that just don’t go away. The concepts of strength and stretch help the runner overcome these issues, and a regular yoga practice accomplishes this brilliantly.
Yoga is no trend. It’s been around for a few thousand years. But the approach to its teaching has modernized and evolved into something that runners can relate to. The strength and flexibility gained from several yoga poses help the runner find space around those beautiful quad muscles and allow them to use their full potential. Range of motion is increased. Hamstrings become flexible. Lateral hips gain strength. Posture is improved. When these things happen, the runner may find balance and speed.
Much of the practice of yoga is in breathing. Deeply breathing. Breath is energy, and learning to access a deeper breath increases capillary exchange which is a major benefit for any runner.
As runners, though, we have goal-driven and competitive minds. We have busy lifestyles that always say “go.” Yoga trains the brain to stay mindful and present. This wherewithal can be the runner’s secret weapon of focus in any event – one more mile, one more hill, one more breath.
Just for the ladies? Oh no! Many pro sport teams travel with yoga instructors and talk about it being part of their training. Watch the guys warm up before many games – those are yoga poses!
So, runners, race to your nearest class and make yoga part of your well-rounded – and balanced – training.
Happy yogi? Happy runner!
Lisa grew up doing ballet and soccer and is a runner of distances from 5k to ultramarathons. Her yoga practice is born out of her own discovery of the benefits that yoga brought to her running. She can be found teaching classes at Pike Yoga and Hot Yoga Plus in Germantown, and she teaches two, free runner-centric classes each month at Fleet Feet Sports here in Sunny Memphis.