5 Reasons Why Every Runner Should Do Yoga

I just go back from running this afternoon in a very humid Central Park and I am beat! I did a one mile warm-up, 4 Yasso 800s (3:30, 3:34, 3:32, 3:30–so, according to Mr. Bart Yasso, I can run Philly in about 3:32. I’m gonna hold you to that, Bart!) and ran two and a half miles home to my apartment. Between that, my long run on Sunday and studying, I think I’ve had about enough for the day.

Hold up. Not so fast.

Oh yeah, I need to get my yoga on before the day is out. My body is truly asking for it. My hip is achey, my hamstrings are undoubtedly tight (sprints do that to you) and I’m sure that my back could always use a bind or two. Yoga has truly saved my running life!

Here’s the skinny on why I do yoga and why every runner (AND NON-RUNNER!) should invest his/herself in a yoga practice:

1. It will make you more limber. More limber=longer, lighter strides. Active stretching is the most effective way to increase and maintain length in muscle fibers. Those 5 minutes you spend stretching when you get home are nothing compared to 45 minutes of active stretching in a vinyasa yoga class.

2. It will help prevent overuse injuries that happen because of muscle/tendon tightness (which eventually lead to inflammation, ie. tendonitis). When we run, everything tightens up to prevent our joints from wobbling about. And that’s a good thing. But, we need to combat that tightness with stretching to avoid a nasty bout of tendonitis or shin splints.

3. It opens up your hips. The hips bear the brunt of every step we take and so our glutes and rotators end up being super-tight as a result, which leads to problems with piriformis, gluteus medius and a whole host of lower back issues. Oh yeah, you know all the talk about ITB syndrome? Yoga helps with that, too. You’re starting to think this is a good idea now, aren’t you???? Keep reading…

4. It will make you stronger mentally. As runners, we pride ourselves in being able to power through long miles with mental toughness. Ever tried to hold a bind in your side angle position while your hip flexor and quad are burning and tell yourself, “I can do this” when you feel like you’re going to fall over? Yeah, that’s hard, too. They compliment each other nicely that way.

5. It will make you stronger physically. Cross training is a vital part of every athlete’s preparation. Yoga hits the upper body, lower body and core all in one. It’s a one-stop shop for your total body workout and all you need is a mat!

There are free yoga classes everywhere you look. Studios that train people to become yoga instructors often have “community classes” that are either free or donation-based where their students practice teaching (under supervision, of course). Every lululemon store offers at least one free yoga class every single week at the store. Lots of community centers offer free or low-cost yoga for yogis of all levels and the teachers are more than happy to help a beginner through the class.

Why, just the other day, Ms. Tampa was telling me she visited my most favorite yogi guru, Rodney Yee whom she felt gave her such amazing special attention because she told it was her first time at his studio. See? Just speak up and help is on the way!

Yoga has changed the way that I run. I have to tell you, as awesome as I feel after a great run, I feel just as amazing after a tough (and/or fulfilling) yoga class. It has taught me to breathe through things and to test my limits. I’m grateful for having found it when I was in college and rediscovered it here in NYC. Truly, it’s a gift you give yourself.

Ok, I’m off to do my yoga. You? Go out and run!

But first, tell me: What cross-training activity/sport changed your life or your running life?

5 thoughts on “5 Reasons Why Every Runner Should Do Yoga

  1. Y O G A.
    in my opinion, there is no better activity that compliments running, and just being, as well as yoga does.
    i also love pilates, and believe it is extremely beneficial to running and life too.
    lately i have also been doing strength training in the gym 2x a week. i especially notice that the squats/lunges are helping me a lot.
    oh aaaand, i love a good spin class :o)

  2. See, I like yoga…but its so slow. What do you do for Yoga? Do you have a DVD, class or a routine you got off from the internet? My goal (which I just wrote about at my blog) is to do yoga at least once this month because I know it’s great for my body. But, putting the mental energy and trying to slow down for an hour and a half sounds like complete torture to me. Weird- I’d rather run for an hour and a half instead of do yoga…lol.

    • I learned from a vinyasa instructor in college and then took a lot of classes at another vinyasa studio here in the city, Yoga To The People. They have free podcasts on their website and iTunes and I use them because I can’t always get to class. When I can, I go to NY Yoga and Yoga To The People because I enjoy the flow of a vinyasa class and the atmosphere at each of the studios is one of focusing more on your inner practice than your outward practice. I also have used Rodney Yee’s videos at home. I hope to attend one of his classes out in the Hamptons sometime before the summer is out! I recommend going to a class first to learn the basics and what habits you have (and how to correct them) before you do an at-home practice.

  3. Pingback: TGIFriday Faves. | thedancingrunner

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