Yoga for Runners
Many health and exercise experts agree that yoga practice is beneficial to runners.
Adding Yoga Poses to Your Training
If you are interested in incorporating some yoga asana into your training, I recommend including a few in your warm up or cool down.
Hold each pose for several breaths so you have time to work on both body and breath awareness in each pose.
- Downward Facing Dog (especially after a run!)
- Runners Lunge (pay close attention to the placement of the front knee right over the front ankle)
Strength and flexibility to the whole body, give the heart a rest while bringing fresh blood to the glands and head, may relieve fatigue, can minimize next day soreness in calves, hamstrings and back.
- Seated Twist
This stretches and strengthens opposing hamstring and hip flexors, allowing the lower back and hip joint to move more freely.
- Forward folds
- Hip Openers
There are too many options to choose one! Find some that feel good to you and practice them often. Pictured is Ankle to Knee pose.
The hips twist when you run. In a seated twist, you keep your hips stationary and bring the full counter twisting action to the spine.
Stretch the back of the body, rejuvenate the spine, bring a fresh supply of blood to the pelvis and quiet the mind.
It is not uncommon for runners to experience back or knee pain, tightness in hamstrings, hip flexors or IT bands, and a number of other injuries or areas of chronic pain. The act of running itself doesn’t usually cause these issues. However, running can cause imbalances within the body that lead to pain or injury. A runner performs very specific actions over and over in one plane of motion, focusing on external techniques that often pull the body out of structural alignment. Yoga can combat this misalignment, and has been shown to help increase range of motion, agility, flexibility, endurance, and strength. The list of yoga poses, or asana, recommended for runners is long. I will give you a few examples below, but first it is important to understand some of the other aspects of yoga.
The Students Run Philly Style program is not just about the run. As stated in the program’s values; it is about being healthy for life, making safe choices and doing well in school. Yoga isn’t just about being able to get your foot behind your head or balance all of your body weight on your forearms. In yoga, health is not solely determined by or created in the physical body. The Sanskrit word for health translates to "established in the self." True health is already within you, it is just a matter of uncovering it.
One way we uncover this is through awareness. If we hold the body in a position for a length of time, concentrating on a number of points of alignment, the mind starts to become more focused. There is less room in the mind for random thoughts with this level of focus. In this quiet mind, you can become more cognizant of the state of your body. From this point of awareness, you can work to reduce tension in both the mind and the body.
How you breathe is an integral part of the practice of yoga. Your body will breathe whether you are paying attention to it or not. However, when we do pay attention to the way that we breathe, we can get the most out of every breath. This can improve circulation, improve athletic performance, aid in injury recovery and soothe the nervous system. At the training event in July at The Navy Yard, we practiced ujjayi breath which is said to help the mind rise above its typical restless state. With a mind that is free from restlessness and anxiety, it is easier to navigate the mental and physical challenge of completing a long race, to do well in school and to make good choices.