I used to think yoga was boring. And, honestly, it can be. Recently I’ve stepped up my yoga game as part of my Unbeatable Mind training and taking it seriously has helped me get more from my practice as well as start to enjoy it. I’ll always be a runner but a little something else never hurt. Here are some of the big benefits of yoga for runners.
Strength – Yoga can make you stronger. Without looking like a body builder or becoming muscle bound and losing your ability to move quickly, practicing yoga will help strengthen every muscle and bone group you have. Because yoga never uses one muscle group independently of another you get more bang for your buck with each pose than you would sitting in a gym’s machine. Increased strength in the core, arms and legs means better endurance, more efficiency and faster race times.
Mobility – Look at the hip extension of an elite marathoner moving at race pace. Now look at yours. Mobility, or the ability to move a join through a full range of motion, is incredibly important. The more your hip can open the faster you’ll get where you’re going. Yoga for runners improves mobility at all joints, increasing ease of movement, reducing stiffness and potentially erasing some of those regular aches and pains you have before warming up.
Prevent Injury – A big benefit of yoga for runners is getting muscle groups to lengthen and strengthen in balance. When doing downward dog, my arms, wrists, lats and deltoids are strengthening while my hamstrings, calves and Achilles are stretching to create stability in that position. This helps eliminate the muscle imbalances created by pounding pavement for miles and miles each week that eventually lead to injuries.
Improved Breathing – If you can’t breathe, running gets really hard very quickly. Hello, speed work in humidity! Adding some yoga for runners to your regular routine will help increase lung capacity and teach you how to breathe properly using your diaphragm. Filling your lungs completely instead of breathing shallowly and quickly means more oxygen gets to working muscles and more toxic carbon dioxide is removed, keeping your heart and stress rates lower. Better breathing means better running!
Whether you use it to warm up, stretch out or as a cross training workout all alone, there’s lots of good information on yoga for runners here.
What are your favorite yoga for runners poses? How often do you practice?