Runners are often reluctant to try yoga; the most common fear is that they are not flexible enough. Good news, NO yoga experience necessary and is suitable for every body type. You can start yoga at any age, and those who are the stiffest have the most to gain. Runners have a tremendous amount to gain from adding yoga to their fitness regimens.
Running can lead to injury because of its repetitive nature. The benefits of yoga can help restore balance and symmetry to the body, making it the perfect complement to running. Why yoga can be good for runner’s is it can deal with specific issues, such as improving flexibility or helping with an injury. Yoga opens up a new world for strengthening capacity and the use of muscles you never knew you had.
Many runners notice greater flexibility when they start yoga, which is one of the reasons they continue a yoga practice. Yoga stretches the muscles that are tight, which in turn increases the range of motion in related joints. Increased flexibility decreases stiffness, results in greater ease of movement, and reduces many nagging aches and pains.
Many forms of exercise deplete the body of its energy stores. Not yoga, it oxygenates the blood and creates more energy, leaving the body and mind feeling restored and energized, and helps the body actively recover from the physical demands of running.
Lung capacity is of great importance for runners, because it creates the ability to maintain an even breathing pattern through all phases of running. The better the lung capacity, the more oxygen is circulated through the system, which is very helpful for running long and strong. The breathing pattern used in running and other forms of aerobic exercise involves quick and shallow inhalations and exhalations. This uses only the top portion of the lungs, leaving the middle and lower portions untouched. Yogic breathing involves slow, deep inhalations and long exhalations, making use of the upper, middle, and lower portions of the lungs. The breathing techniques in yoga has been shown to increase lung capacity. A greater lung capacity increases endurance and improves overall athletic performance.
Yoga provides a workout that includes every muscle and all the joints. Yoga uses all muscle groups, including the small muscles in the hands and toes, the large muscles of the legs and torso, the superficial muscles such as the calves and hamstrings, and the deeply layered muscles that are not visible. When examining a person in the downward dog pose, you can see clearly that the superficial muscles of the back are stretching. What is less obvious is the lengthening of the intrinsic layer of paraspinal muscles, creating space and decompressing the vertebrae. All of the body’s systems beyond the muscle groups are worked in yoga, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, and endocrine systems. As well as, the internal organs are massaged and oxygenated through yogic breathing and movement in the poses.
If you are a runner like myself you need to consider the benefits of yoga and take the plunged. I also find that yoga helps with posture which is also an important aspect of running.