Yoga is one of those things I hate to love. I’m not very good at maintaining focus and winding down. I’m a person that needs to be in motion and constantly “doing” to maintain homeostasis in my body and mind.
But as a runner, there’s no doubt in my mind the far-reaching implications of having yoga as a tool in my arsenal to keep my body safe and strong. I encourage my clients and friends to incorporate yoga into their routines to ensure their bodies are primed for the demands of run training. Today I’m going to tell you a little bit about why yoga is so helpful to a successful training program.
Incorporate Yoga to Achieve Balance, Strength, and Focus
The first three points I’m going to discuss are all interrelated. Balance, hips and glutes, and a strong core are important components to a supplemental training program to protect, and perhaps rehabilitate, from injury.
Through various poses, you can really improve your balance without giving it much thought. Yes, it’s tough to balance when you first begin. But after just a few sessions you’ll see major improvements to your overall balance, which in turn will help you achieve proper running form.
Hips & Glutes
Yoga is an exceptional way to work on strengthening hips and glutes. Strong hips and glutes will help you stave off injury by helping you maintain proper balance and firing those all-important balancing muscles.
A strong core is not to be underestimated. Core muscles are responsible for stabilizing and transferring force. There are many more muscles involved in the core than just abs. Included in the definition of core muscles are the abs, obliques, glutes, hip flexors, piriformis, and hamstrings to name a few.
All of these muscles play a critical role in stabilizing us and transferring force. So for runners, these are really the key groups to work on cross training days. Yoga helps with these muscle groups by holding poses for a few moments, using balance poses, as well as strengthening poses.
Most serious runners spend a large portion of time working on core muscle engagement and strengthening. Research has shown runners with high core stability have a lower risk of injury. If you’re coming back from injury, yoga can help strengthen your core and work on any muscle imbalance you may have. And if you’re considering incorporating strength training to ward off muscle imbalances now and in the future, yoga is an amazing way to do so.
Lean Muscle Mass
Not surprisingly, yoga helps create and maintain lean muscle mass. Contrary to popular belief, a distance runner does not need to be skin and bones to be successful. Runners need muscles to propel ourselves forward and to keep our joints and tendons safe. Yoga helps build lean muscle mass that ultimately helps us run faster and farther.
Range of Motion & Increased Flexibility
Yogis are probably best known for their effortless flexibility. I know when I’m watching yoga videos I’m in awe of some of the poses and distortions yogis are capable of. Many yogis and dancers are hypermobile and use it to their advantage. But you don’t have to be hypermobile to enjoy the benefits of a yoga practice.
Any amount of yoga can help increase your range of motion and flexibility which is definitely a good thing when it comes to running. If you’re inflexible or your range of motion is restrained, your gait may suffer thus resulting in imbalances and possibly injury.
Yoga helps us stretch and move in ways that don’t reflect our every day body movement. Many poses, by nature, help increase our flexibility and range of motion.
Relaxation & Mental Focus
Running is tough. If it weren’t, many more people would do it. What’s tougher than running? Racing. There are lots of recreational runners that will never toe the line. And that’s totally cool, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. But if you’re a recreational runner looking to make the leap to racing, don’t let anxiety or fear of the unknown hold you back. Yoga can help center you and help you focus. Professional runners and elites use yoga for this very reason. If they have a big race coming up, what better place to focus than on the mat?
Once you start focusing on the mat, you’ll be able to bring your mental focus and relaxation skills to the starting line. Where you once have stood fearful or anxiety-ridden, you’ll become a disciplined runner ready to take on the world.
Fashion is Fun
Now that I’ve told you all about why you should incorporate yoga into your training regimen, here’s the fun part. Fashion. I’m not a huge fashion-junkie but I know cute and functional when I see it. And prAna apparel is just that. It’s cute, it’s functional, it’s supremely comfortable, and it’s sustainably made. The materials they use are from sustainable sources and the processes they use improve the garment industry. Plus they treat their people fairly.
I own many pieces from prAna and the two I’m wearing in this post, the Juniper Pant and the Mika Strappy Top, are particularly amazing. I guarantee I’ll be living in these all summer long.
Ready to take your yoga practice to the next level? You should look good while you work, right? Use code S4P17RFR to save 15% off your purchase at prAna.com. This offer is valid until March 28, 2017 and is good on men’s and women’s lines.
Don’t forget to link up with Lora, Susie, Debbie and me for the Running Coaches’ Corner link up. We share all the best running tips, tricks, and workouts! And we love reading what our linkers have to share.
TALK TO ME!
Do you practice yoga regularly?
What’s your favorite yoga pose?
This post is sponsored by prAna. All opinions, reviews, and ideas are my own.