Sunday, August 7, 2011

Yoga for Runners

Not only am I an avid practicer of yoga, I am also a marathon runner. These two might sound completely opposite, but they have much more in common than you would think. Especially if you are the kind who likes to learn something deeper from what you do. Both activities provide many metaphors for life.

I have talked about the lessons of yoga, and how they apply to life. Well, the same is true for running. The insights I learn from yoga help my thinking and performance in running. Occasionally it is the other way around. Both benefit me tremendously in my daily life. The management of your mental chatter in these activities allows you to do the same in the rest of your day.

One of the greatest benefits of doing both yoga and running is physical. Things get tight with running. Yoga helps loosen muscles, stretch tendons and ligaments, and provides a nice full body massage. People are experiencing a decreased risk of injury when adding yoga as part of their total running program.

I have been having IT band issues this year. This is a very common injury for runners. I have definitely seen improvement with this after doing some hip opening exercises. The secondary benefit of hip openers is the tendon stretch — it has been working miracles for me. I actually really enjoy hip opening exercises now that I relax into them (runners tend to be very tight in the hip area).

The Runner’s World website has a link to yoga. The awareness is growing of the beneficial connection. I do fear runners will mentally minimize the benefits of yoga. They may be robbing themselves of a crucial tool that can have a profound effect on training and performance (not to mention injury prevention).

If you’ve only done yoga, or you’ve only been a runner…consider dabbling into the other realm. Running won’t be for every yogi or yogini. Yoga certainly won’t appeal to all runners. However, it can be such an experience to push yourself into new areas of the physical wonderland.


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