Adding yoga to your training can increase your flexibility, strength and focus. There are numerous benefits to hitting the yoga mat instead of the roads once a week.
The triad of good fitness is endurance, strength and flexibility. Too often runners focus on endurance and strength. They will run for hours in all weather conditions and times, proudly proclaiming their moral superiority for suffering at 5 a.m. while everyone else is in bed.
Hill repeats and bounding exercises along with squats and lifts squeeze out any remaining body fat from a runner’s physique. But what about yoga?
If You Want to Run Long, You Had Better Stretch
Any runner that has gone beyond a jaunt around the block knows that they need to stretch. They find articles on the Internet about the “Five Essential Runner’s Stretches” and make sure that they incorporate those items into their running routine.
While those stretches are crucial, they cannot substitute for an extended period of time dedicated to stretching, and that is where yoga comes in. Get in the habit of attending a class or, once you have learned some basic poses, doing your own routine and you just might avoid that next iliotibial band strain!
Yoga is an ancient form of physical fitness that involves a series of stretches or “poses” that manipulate, twist and strengthen every part of your body from the musculature to some of your internal organs. It also involves controlling the mind along with the body, forcing the Type A personality runner to slow down and concentrate.
Some forms of yoga emphasize rhythmic breathing to focus the mind and allow for greater flexibility to be developed. The twisting motions of some of the yoga poses are particularly beneficial to the back; an ancient yoga proverb is “flexible spine, young body.” The reason for this is the twisting motion of the spine increases the circulation of the spinal fluid, helping to lubricate the joints.
Meditate Your Way To Better Health
A good yoga session should start with some basic warm up exercises to soften up the muscles and get blood flowing through your body. The Sun Salutations are a set of standard poses at the beginning of a class.
Then, depending on the level of difficulty, the instructor may run you through anywhere from 10 to 30 poses working on all aspects of your body. Typically, a class concludes with some time for meditation and focus. This quiet time, where the participant focuses on their breathing can be wonderfully refreshing. Everyone needs some time for clarity, why not do it in a yoga class?
The breathing exercises that are part of the entire yoga class are particularly emphasized during the meditation part of a class. This focused, deep breathing can help increase the oxygenation of your blood stream, providing the body with a natural boost of energy.
It Is Also A Strength Training Session
One of the little appreciated aspects of a yoga class is that in addition to increasing your flexibility, often the poses demand balance and strength. This will not substitute a good hill repeat workout, but especially for runners, yoga can increase strength in musculature not commonly used in a 10 kilometer run, particularly the upper body.
In all, there is a lot of value in adding yoga to your exercise regime. You will increase your flexibility, your strength and your outlook on a hectic world. Get out there and enroll in a yoga class!