Reasons why Active Yogis – Runners – need some Yoga in their lives.
Yoga is the oldest known science of self- development.
And as runners we view every race, every training opportunity as an opportunity for personal self- development.
We train religiously to continuously better ourselves, to grow and develop and better equip our bodies to race harder, faster and smarter.
SO WHY ADD YOGA TO OUR TRAINING SCHEDULE?
Yoga asana focus on finding your body’s center of balance and stability. Both mentally (heard of the post yoga glow feeling – that is real) and physically. There may be challenges as you introduce the practice to your life, or times that think the gym would make better use of your precious free moments, but with time and focus you will learn how to use your own body weight and awareness to maintain your balance.
This heightened sense of body intuition will help you to fine tune your running skills and decrease your chances of sustaining injuries.
1) CORRECT MUSCLE IMBALANCES & INJURY PREVENTION
If you run and don’t do anything to maintain flexibility AND stability of your joints, chances are that you will end up with a running injury sooner or later. It is crucial to your training to increase and maintain a range of strength and motion that supports your body in action.
Yoga can correct muscle imbalances created from high impact training, by aligning the joints, improving bone density and stretching and stabilizing the body to prevent pain and injury, particularly in injury prone areas such as the IT band, hips, hamstrings and knees in runners.
2) CREATE EFFICIENT RUNNING FORM
Standing yoga poses correctly align the body with a focus on improving balance, pelvic stability and leg strength for powerful and efficient form. Effectively running is a series of standing balance poses one after the other with good hip stability and posture after all!
Dynamic flow sequences in yoga develop a sense of rhythm between breath and movement, helping to build stamina and co-ordination.
3) TOTAL BODY FITNESS
The muscles you use for running are strong but don’t use all of your muscles. In fact moving in the same planes of movement can put certain areas of your body at risk of repetitive strain injuries.
Yoga brings more movement into your whole body, creating more movement in the hips, hamstrings, shoulder and neck. It also helps to develop your upper body to balance your already strong legs. Each yoga pose requires all of your muscles to work in tandem.
4) INCREASED AGILITY & FASTER RECOVERY
Many of us stretch before our runs, but practicing a few yoga poses afterwards when your muscles are warm will help to make you feel a whole lot better the next day!
Yoga can help you recover faster by preventing a buildup in scar tissue.
Tense muscles don’t receive blood, so use yoga after your run to keep your muscles open for movement enabling oxygen.
A solid yoga practice can help you to recover faster between workouts and increase your range of motion.
5) INCREASED SELF-AWARENESS
When you’re running you need to be in the zone: your mind needs to be focused on your body, your breathing and your goal.
While running you can aim for the perfect co-ordination of body, mind and breathing.
By calming your mind, you focus on your body and staying present.
You concentrate on your breathe, taking one step at a time, creating a healthy sense of rhythm rather than worrying solely about the outcome of the race.
This is especially useful for long distance runners.
6) CHANNEL YOUR ENERGY IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Yoga allows you to become minutely aware of everything that is happening to your body.
With yoga, you can learn to decipher and respond to your body’s messages.
Yoga builds such a tight connection between your body and mind, and heightens your sensitivity to your body’s movements that you will intuitively come to know when to push harder, slow down or dig deeper and faster in your races.
7) DEVELOP MENTAL FOCUS AND CONCENTRATION
Through focus, visualization and better self-understanding you can train your mind for competition and to improve confidence and focus.
Yoga breath work and asana exercises can improve body awareness and confidence, focus and patience, which in turn lead to a sharper focus when racing, a more fine tuned approach to your body form and stronger race results.
8) INCREASE YOUR OXYGEN CAPACITY
Most of us are shallow breathers, not using the full capacity of our lungs.
A regular practice with pranayama can increase our ability to breathe effectively resulting in more oxygen being supplied to our blood system.
This oxygen rich blood can boost performance and endurance for runners.