Top tips and top benefits • Yoga Basics
Who said yoga and running are polar opposites? Today, fitness enthusiasts are discovering incredible compatibility between these two activities. It’s no longer unusual for top fitness coaches to incorporate asana into individual strength training programs for runners, or to see events springing up across the country that combine 5K runs with yoga and meditation. Yoga practitioners have turned to running to increase their cardio, while runners swear that regular yoga practice is the best tool to prevent injuries, focus, and increase overall strength and endurance—all key ingredients for peak running speed. .
7 Ways Yoga Makes You a Better Runner
1. Activates the work of all joints and muscle groups
Running is a repetitive activity that engages the same group of muscles and joints over a long period of time. This creates an unbalanced muscular system that is vulnerable to injury or chronic pain.
The strength and flexibility you develop when you add yoga to your repertoire promotes full-body balance and increases the overall stability of your core strength. A well-conditioned core helps muscle groups work in sync with each other and prevents extraneous movements of the torso, helping you run more efficiently and stay injury-free. Many yoga poses help stretch and strengthen the hamstrings, hamstrings, hip flexors, thighs, quads, and calves—all areas that can be strained during running.
2. It increases concentration and confidence
Yoga isn’t just a physical practice—there’s also mental and emotional work done on the mat that can increase your focus, concentration, and determination. A typical class includes a sequence of asanas, conscious deep breathing, meditation, and active body awareness. These techniques calm the mind and eliminate emotional and mental clutter and are key for runners who need to focus on performance rather than the day’s stressors. Through the practice of yoga, runners can learn to effectively transform negative thoughts and ignore the distractions that arise during competitive running.
3. Yogic breathing improves lung capacity
Pranayama is a great way to improve breath control and increase lung capacity, which is crucial for runners. Using pranayama techniques can help you conserve energy during your run and help you recover more effectively after your workout. Increased lung capacity will allow you to maintain even breathing during all types of running, from tempo to distance. Many modern runners have also found that doing calming breathing exercises such as Nadi Sodhana before a competitive run reduces the anxiety associated with pre-race jitters.
4. Increases flexibility
Another benefit of combining yoga with running is that it improves the overall flexibility of your muscles and increases the range of motion of your joints. One of the main advantages of flexible muscles and joints of the limbs is that they increase the length of the step, therefore, increase the speed. Flexibility and a greater range of motion also help reduce the risk of injury from sprained muscles or sprained ankles during training or racing. Runners with tight legs can use a yoga block and strap to help promote good alignment while stretching.
5. Promotes relaxation
Because yoga is not a competitive sport, it provides runners with the mental and emotional balance they need to de-stress before or after a race. Yoga poses, breathing techniques, and meditation can help you calm your mind and reduce stress and anxiety. This can be especially helpful if you’re nervous before a race or have trouble sleeping before a big event. Every runner knows that they won’t be at their best if they spend the night before a race running around!
6. It develops body awareness
The development of body awareness that results from following a yoga routine helps runners more easily recognize signals of pain or discomfort sent by the body. Paying attention to these cues by focusing on physical sensations allows runners to avoid injury and know when to cut back or when they’re ready to add a little more time to each session. This cultivation of body wisdom and physical awareness also brings a better overall understanding of the body and how it works, which can further increase efficiency.
7. Relieves tension and pain
Runners who have been injured during training or racing are increasingly looking to yoga for relief during the healing process. Gentle and restorative yoga poses support the healing process by activating the body’s lymphatic system and improving local blood circulation. The slow, gentle movements of the asanas also help strengthen tissues as they heal, and it’s possible that even chronic injuries can eventually heal on their own with careful yoga practice.
Our guide for beginners
New to yoga but ready to start experiencing the benefits and performance boosts of combining yoga and running? Check out our beginners section! It is filled with helpful articles to help you find your way as you begin your new yoga practice.
Yoga tips for running
Find the right style for you
There are many different types of yoga, and each has a different intensity and involves different breathing exercises and yoga poses. This variety allows runners to develop a highly individualized cross-training program that meets their specific needs and preferences. Try different classes, yoga teachers, and yoga styles to determine what works best for your personality, running style, and fitness level. If you’re training hard and building mileage, stick to relaxing and gentle sessions like hatha, yin, and restorative yoga. On the other hand, if you’re de-stressing, you can feel free to include more challenging classes in vinyasa, ashtanga or power yoga. For really tight muscles, hot yoga may be the best choice.
Include dynamic and static poses
Dynamic asanas such as sun salutations, lunges and warrior poses are great for warming up muscles and improving flexibility. Static poses such as Pigeon Pose, Downward Facing Dog, and Forward Sitting can help you cool down and stretch your muscles after a long run.
Focus on alignment
Proper alignment is key to preventing injury and getting the most out of your yoga practice. When doing yoga for runners, pay attention to posture and alignment in each pose. Keep your feet hip-width apart, engage your core, and drop your shoulders down and away from your ears.
Include relaxation techniques
Staying calm while running can be difficult, but practicing yogic relaxation techniques can help you not only improve your performance, but also make the overall running experience much more enjoyable. Before you start running, take a few minutes to practice deep breathing to relax and calm your mind.
Explore visualization meditation
Learning to visualize and focus your mind can be a powerful tool for runners. Visualization meditation can help you focus on your goals, increase productivity and motivation. During visualization meditation, you can visualize yourself running smoothly and effortlessly, with perfect form and technique. This can help you prepare for a race, get you through tough times during a long run, and keep you motivated to stick to your training schedule.
Is yoga best before or after running?
Doing a few warm-up yoga poses before your run will help warm up and prepare your muscles before you start. Running before yoga warms up the body, which allows the muscles to stretch more deeply in various asanas. On non-running days, yoga can be a great cross-training exercise to balance your body. It is recommended that runners do a full 60-90 minute yoga session two to three times a week.
Incorporate yoga into your running routine
- As a warm-up
A short sequence of asanas can be a great way to warm up your body before going for a run. This can help increase blood circulation, relax tense muscles and prepare the body for the physical exertion of running.
- Like cooling
Yoga can also be a great way to cool down and stretch your muscles after a run. This can help prevent injury, reduce pain, and speed up recovery time.
- On weekends
You don’t have to limit your yoga practice to just before or after your run. Incorporating yoga into your weekend can help you recover faster and improve your overall performance. You can choose yoga classes that focus on stretching, flexibility and balance, which are important for runners.
The best yoga poses for runners
The best sequence of yoga poses to complement running will include asanas that strengthen the upper body and core, open the hips, and poses that deeply stretch the legs. Try incorporating the following runners’ poses into your yoga routine:
Adding yoga to your routine can make you a healthier runner with faster recovery times. Combining running with trips to the yoga studio can have a number of benefits for your body and mind, helping you become the best athlete you can be. By practicing asanas, you can stretch and strengthen muscles throughout your body that may not be used much during running, reducing the risk of injury and ultimately improving your overall running performance. Additionally, the psychological stimulation that yoga provides, including increased focus, concentration, and mindfulness, can keep you present and focused during long runs or races. All in all, the benefits of yoga are obvious, so why not give it a try?