An exercise regimen including yoga for runners is the best form of exercise you can follow to stay mentally and physically fit. Yoga provides you the tool to work on a deeper level when it comes to diving deeper and unlocking true potential.
Running provides you the best way to burn off unnecessary fat and stay fit. Yoga helps you remain physically and mentally fit with different techniques and practices. Although both of the exercises are apart from each other in terms of staying fit but the right combination of both offers tremendous benefits. There is a deeper connection between the practice of yoga and running.
Let us first understand the connection between yoga and running.
Yoga for Runners – The Connection Between Yoga and Running
You might wonder how exactly are the sacred art of Yoga and running connected. Both are different forms of exercise concentrating on completely different aspects of personal growth. One works on the overall physique while the other takes into account mental, physical, and spiritual growth.
There are two major elements that make Yoga for runners the best exercise routine.
Let us begin now!
1. Yoga for Runners and The Art of Breathing
Breathing remains the main element for both runners and those practicing yogic art. The right technique of breathing during running provides the muscles with better endurance and prevents cramps.
In yoga, breathing helps you improve focus and increase overall awareness. The practice of Pranayama helps you extend breathing. It is how yoga for runners can offer you numerous benefits during the long run.
2. Yoga for Runners and Improved Mental Strength
The one and only condition to run is to let go of all that binds you mentally and physically. You have to be open to accepting every hurdle before overcoming them.
Yoga does the same in a different manner. It provides you with added mental strength by surpassing the physical and mental discomfort. Yoga helps you slow down the thinking process and remain calm. The Yoga teacher helps you release negative emotions and thought patterns to help you remain calm amidst the chaos.
It is by now clear that yoga and running are great teammates. Regular practice of both helps you stay in peak physical conditioning, not to forget the numerous mental benefits it offers.
Let us now check out some major advantages of yoga for runners.
Yoga For Runners – The Why
Combining the regular practice of yoga with running has more benefits than you can imagine. Physical conditioning is but only a small part of the equation. The reasons to include yoga for runners go much beyond good physical health.
1. Work on Breathing
Practicing Hatha Yoga includes breathing that helps you perform the asana correctly. With the right breathing technique, you become more aware of body sensations. You can acknowledge slow breathing is more relaxing and offers more energy to the body.
Similarly, during running the right breathing helps you acquire a more relaxed state of mind. The breathing work increases the intake of oxygen both in the body and mind. It is one reason why yoga for runners is the perfect exercise regimen to follow.
2. Yoga for Runners Helps Improve Body Posture
You should know that running requires having the perfect body posture. Yoga is there to help you make that possible by elongating the spinal cord without creating any tension.
Alignment is the key element in all yogic practices as you understand the right way to stand taller, and stronger without any unnecessary stress. These practices come in handy during the running session.
3. Control Stress
Yoga is the best exercise for you to gain control over emotions and that helps you during stressful moments. Practicing a tough yoga asana is similar to going on a long run. The various relaxation techniques you practice during a yoga session help focus the mind during running. It is a major reason to consider yoga for runners in the long run.
4. Yoga for Runners Promotes Improved Flexibility
Running needs a lot of strength and flexibility to cover the distance with ease. The practice of specific yoga postures for longer periods of time helps loosen up the stiff muscle joints, ligaments, and connecting tissues. It helps you perform better when going on a long-distance run.
5. Improved Back Health
If running is the way to fitness for you then chances are back pain is also a constant cause of worry. Another cause is the impact of running from the legs to the back. Specific yoga asanas such as cow or cat pose prepare your back for a longer exercise regimen than running. Yoga for runners reduces the chances of suffering from back problems as spinal discs.
It is time we now look at the different advantages of yoga for runners in the long run.
Advantages of Yoga for Runners
Running provides you with strength in specific muscle groups. As a runner, you might have rock-solid quad muscles but unusually weak hamstrings muscles. Yoga helps you maintain balance both on a mental and physical level.
It is time you understand some major benefits of yoga for runners.
1. Improved Focus
Yoga is the best meditative practice and you might even compare running with meditation. It is very common for your mind to wander off during a long-distance run. Regular practice of yoga helps you keep the mind focused on the present moment. Different asanas help you improve the mental focus required to complete a sprint or long-distance run.
2. Increased Calm
Practicing yoga for runners is a great exercise if you want to remain calm during a long run. Both running and yoga are meditative and cathartic practices, but running can become hectic. Combining yoga with running helps you remain calm during the run.
3. Repairs Muscular Imbalance
Running makes you a stronger athlete and posses stronger quad muscles. But there are specific muscle groups as hamstrings, and glutes that might remain a bit weak. Regular yoga practice helps you create balance and remove any hindrance to a great performance. Yoga for runners helps you deal with runner’s musculature.
4. Powers Core Muscles
You as a runner are sure to have solid core muscles that are present in the spine, abdominal, and trunk. The yoga for runners offers you an effective way to strengthen core musculature with specific postures.
It is time to know the five different yoga for runners poses that help in achieving peak performance in running with the correct application of all these poses.
5 Essential Yoga for Runners Poses
Given below are the five major types of yoga poses to help you enhance performance when doing a running session.
1. Downward Dog Pose
The Downward Dog yoga for runners pose targets the hamstrings, calves, and foot arches along with strengthening shoulders. You need to follow a few simple guidelines to perform this posture with precision.
Steps to Perform Downward Dog
1) Start on your knees and hands.
2) Align the wrists under your shoulders and knees under the hips.
3) Spread your fingers and press them into the palms.
4) Tuck your toes and lift the knees off the floor.
5) Now, straighten your legs and raise your hips into an inverted V angle.
6) Take in 10 deep breaths.
7) Try to keep the legs straight and sink the heels towards the mat.
2. Toes Pose
The Toes Pose in yoga for runners helps you prevent Plantar Fascilitis by working on the shins and arches of the feet. Kindly pay attention to the guidelines below to perform this pose without any discomfort.
Steps to Perform Toes Pose
1) Kneel on the mat with toes curled under.
2) Sit back on the heels. You can place a yoga block or pillow between the heels and glutes.
3) Take deep breathes up to 10 counts.
4) Point your toes, place your hands on the mat behind and lean back to lift the knee off the mat.
5) You are most likely to feel a nice stretch in the shins and arches.
3. Reclining Pigeon Pose
Reclining Pigeon is one of the best yoga for runners poses that help you release tensions and tightness in the hips. Pay attention to the guidelines to know how to perform this particular asana.
Guidelines to Performing Reclining Pigeon Yoga Pose
1) Lie on your back with knees bent. Keep your thighs parallel and hip-distance apart.
2) Cross the left ankle over the right thigh.
3) Next, reach your left arm through the space between the thighs and the right arm around the outside of the right thigh.
4) Now, clasp your hands below the right knee and flex the left foot.
5) Make sure to place a pillow or block behind the head.
4. Legs Up the Wall Pose
The perfect yoga poses to help you relieve tension in the legs, feet, and back is none other than the legs up the wall pose. It helps you stretch the hamstring muscles and improve glutes. Read the guidelines mentioned below to find out more about performing this pose with ease.
Steps to Performing Legs Up the Wall
1) Slide up beside an open wall space with hips close to the base of the wall.
2) Swing your legs up the wall and lie back in a relaxed state.
3) Rest between taking in 10 deep breaths to 10 minutes.
5. Low Lunge Pose
The Low Lunge yoga for runners pose is perfect if you want to stretch hip flexors, and strengthen the hamstrings and quads. Read on below to understand how to perform this particular pose with precision.
Guidelines to Performing Low Lunge Pose
1) Step the right foot forward between both hands.
2) Next, lower the left knee and keeping the right knee in place. You need to slide the left knee back.
3) Turn the top of the left foot to the floor and lift the torso in an upright position.
4) Keep both arms out to the sides and up overhead.
5) Now, drop the tailbone towards the floor and look upwards.
6) Hold for at least 10 breaths and repeat with the other side.
However, you need to understand that running always carries a certain risk of injury to the hip, leg, ankle, thighs, and specific area of the foot. Although the majority of trainers recommend you do a bit of stretching before starting the sprint but it is never enough.
You need to inculcate specific yoga for runners poses into your running schedule to reduce the risk of injury and maximize performance.
Yoga for Runners Poses to Prepare for Sprint
Let us look at some of the best yoga poses to prepare the body for a sprint.
1. Bandhakonasana (The Butterfly Pose)
The best yoga asana for providing good stretching to the inner thighs, hamstrings, knees, and groin. Running improves flexibility in the hips.
2. HastaPadasana (The Standing Forward Bend Pose)
Hastapadasana helps stretch all muscles in the backside of the body. It also tones the abdominal muscles and provides more strength to the spine.
3. Trikonasana (The Triangle Pose)
Running requires power in the legs and knees and it is here Trikonasana comes into the picture. It helps you stretch the hips, groins, calves, shoulders, chest, and spine. It is the best yoga for runners pose to gain physical and mental equilibrium.
4. Veerbhadrasana (The Warrior Pose)
The Warrior Pose is excellent for toning the arms, lower back, and legs. It helps increase stamina and provides balance to the body.
5. Poorvottasana (The Upward Plank Pose)
Poorvottasana helps stretch the hips and legs. You get more strength in your wrists, shoulders, back, spine, and arms. It is amongst the best yoga for runners pose you can practice.
With so many yoga for runners poses to help you perform better at every sprint session; it is time to take note of some mistakes you might commit while practicing Yoga for running.
4 Major Mistakes to Avoid with Yoga for Runners Practice
At times the sheer number of yoga asanas to prepare for a run are too much to handle and you might make a mistake. Given below are the four major mistakes you should avoid when doing yoga before and after a running session.
1. Hyper-Extending the Joints
Whether you plan on doing a post-running or pre-running yoga practice; chances are you might end up hyper-extending the joints. For example, while practicing any yoga for runners pose where the entire body weight rests on arms, it is important to keep the arms slightly soft and relaxed. In the long run, it helps to keep all joints safe from hyper-extending and locking into a fixed position.
2. Not Using the Core
Ignoring the core muscles is perhaps the biggest mistake you can commit while practicing yoga for runners poses. Not engaging the core muscles leads to a build-up of pressure on the lower back and hips. Negligence of the core muscles also leads to lower back problems, sciatica, and vertebrae.
Make sure you engage the core muscles by drawing the belly in and deepen the lower back muscles towards the spine. It provides total support to the lower back, stabilizes the hips, and provides more power to the core.
Remember, the more you engage the core during yoga practice, the better it will engage during intense yoga workouts before and after a sprint.
3. Forcefully Practicing a Pose
The very phrase – No Pain, No Gain is an old-fashioned statement that does not stand right in every scenario. If you practice yoga for runners poses then do not go by this statement as it will only lead to more pain and discomfort. You should keep in mind to practice each asana slowly and smoothly without applying any force.
Yoga experts recommend you utilize proper breathing techniques to guide the body into deeper practices. You can inhale slowly to relax the muscles and provide more oxygen. Do not force your body into practicing an asana when you are not prepared to do it.
4. Comparison is a Deal Breaker
Practicing yoga for runners is an inner practice and you ruin the experience of staying mentally and physically fit with comparison. The comparison makes your journey seem less relevant as compared to another person. You need to be open when it comes to performing yoga asanas before or after a running session. No matter how much time it takes to practice but never compare your progress with someone else.
Ignoring the Breathing
You might think that breathing is limited only to the chest, but practicing yoga for beginners runners requires you to breathe from the belly. A lack of proper breathing causes the body to tense up and activate the fight or flight response system.
Regular practice of yoga for runners helps you not only stay fit but get the dual benefits of two different exercise forms. You gain the ability to be more accepting without judgment and also improve mental faculties in the long run. Reaping the full benefits of combining yoga with running is possible if you do not make the mistakes mentioned above.
Q1) Is yoga good for runners?
Ans) Yes! Practicing yoga is of great benefit for runners. From strengthening your knees to lengthening your muscles, yoga can improve your running form. Hence, your progress shoots through the sky. Not just that, yoga practice keeps you away from any kind of injury.
Q2) Can yoga help with running?
Ans) You use your whole body when you run. On the other hand, practicing yoga improves your overall body. Therefore, it is clear that when you are mentally and physically fit, you perform your best. Whether you run or do any other physical activity, yoga practice is going to be in your favor.
Q3) What type of yoga is best for runners?
Ans) Running needs a lot of power in your legs and core muscles. Therefore, practicing power yoga can help you improve your running technique. Also, Ashtanga yoga or Vinyasa yoga can be practiced. The aim is to improve your endurance, muscle power, and stamina.