Yoga: this physical, mental, and spiritual practice provides more than just relaxation and meditation techniques. It is one of the best methods to stretch, tone and build lean muscle. More and more athletes are turning to yoga as part of their training regime, including runners, as it offers a tremendous amount of benefits and lessons athletes can take into consideration to supplement their workouts and their physically active lives. Physical fitness is vital to health and longevity, but can also cause a lot of injury and stress to the body if not done correctly, or if preventative measure such as yoga are not taken.
Runners’ Yoga Tips
The following are some yoga tips runners can take with them to ensure they get the best out of their work outs:
Yoga Poses for Flexibility and Injury Prevention
Yoga offers some great stretches aimed right at the muscles, joints and ligaments that runners use most. When these areas are targeted, runners are less likely to experience injuries, and can benefit more from their exercising. They can also help strengthen their feet, build power, and create more speed:
Downward Facing Dog
Stretches two of the major muscle groups used in running – the hamstrings and calves – and is a great stretch for the back. The joints, including the back, go through a tremendous amount of compression during running and need to be given some extra attention to avoid pain and injury.
Great for the front of the body. It opens the hip flexors, chest and shoulder, which in turn allow for an expanded and better breathing pattern.
Great pose for runners who spend most of their time in the vertical plane as it allows them to expand laterally and stretch to the side. It’s also a great stretch for the inner things, a harder spot to reach.
Yoga Teaches Breath Control
Quite possibly one of the most important things a runner can take away from yoga is learning proper breath control methods. Learning how to send more oxygen to all your cells can provide you with the additional endurance you need to complete your workout. By merely becoming aware of your breath, as yoga focuses on, you increase the likelihood that you’ll notice the impact it has on your running as well. You will be able to get rid of the tendency to partake in the shallow breathing that often occurs, and access gull oxygen capacity in your lungs.
Nutrition to Balance You
Yoga teaches balance, and not just the physical kind, but balance in all aspects of life. The great takeaway here is that all areas of your life are affected by your workouts, and you must be conscious about replenishing the mind, body, and soul every time you practice yoga or take a run. Nutrition wise, it is vital to ensure you are giving your body what it needs to sustain your physical exertion. Water and essential nutrients are greatly depleted during exercise and need to be calculated efficiently into daily eating habits. Many athletes choose to supplement their meals with multivitamins to guarantee that their body can indeed perform to its maximum potential.
Yes, a healthy, well-nourished and rested body should supply you with an abundant source of energy, but when begin to push it beyond just daily activities you may need an additional energy boost. Green tea, yerba mate and B vitamins can all be a healthy source of energy to power you through workouts.
Develop Core Power
Want to make your runs more efficient? Practice proper running posture. This is done through strengthening the core muscles, and that is the most targeted muscle group that yoga works with.
Always Allow for Yoga Stretch Time
Your post-run stretching can be much easier if you are informed and aware of the proper technique and stretching methods to execute. You will also be much less likely to skip your stretching session if you have a series of set stretches to work through. It serves as an excellent method for active recovery and injury protection. You will notice that it will also lessen your duration of muscle soreness.
Learn Energy Efficiency
Conserving energy isn’t just about turning off the lights when you leave a room, it’s about learning how to conserve energy in every aspect of your life. The relaxation techniques and awareness that yoga teaches can make your energy expenditure during running more efficient, giving you more endurance and longer work out times.
Yoga Teaches You to Re-center
There is a reason why mountain pose is so popular in yoga. It brings you back to a central focal point where you can realign your mind and body simultaneously. If you are feeling distracted or exhausted, check back in with your mountain pose mentality and alignment. Broad, open chest, neutral pelvis, feet under knees, knees under hips; shoulders descending down the back and chin down and slightly pushed back. And relax.
Love that mind frame and runner’s high that accompanies your exercise? Yogis base their entire practice around this feeling. Mantras help you harness that brain power and concentration to enter into that state of happiness and wellbeing. Some popular running mantras are “form and breath,” “strong and smooth,” or “tall and loose.” You can choose what works best for you and your mind.
Pick a Drishti
This is another yoga mind body balancing trick. Do you often run a mile marker, or a certain light post? This is choosing a drishti or focal point. This is created to bring your mental awareness to the task at hand, instead of being derailed by outside distractions. It’s honing in and sharpening the brain’s ability to focus and concentrate. It is a form of a moving meditation and is the reason why running is such a powerful tool for anxiety, depression and other mental disorders.
Beginners and advanced yogis alike can learn correct alignment and deepen your yoga practice by joining one of our Doron Yoga & Zen Center retreats. Run some trails through nearby villages and mountainsides with spectacular views of Lake Atitlan!
Busy schedule? Not sure when you can book a retreat? Follow along to one of Doron’s high quality instructional and class videos.