Research shows that yoga increases coordination, flexibility, and strength, and has many health benefits. At the same time, meditation and deep breathing reduce anxiety and focus the mind on achieving heightened awareness levels, resulting in a higher quality of life.
It is crucial to incorporate regular yoga into your exercise regimen, and as a runner, you can get the most out of your body when you combine yoga with running. Here are some of yoga’s benefits and best poses for runners.
Strength & Flexibility
Regular yoga practice strengthens important muscles in your body, including both used and underused muscles. Performing yoga poses leads to strengthening your core, hamstrings, quadriceps, and hip flexors — all muscles that help you as a runner reduce inflammation and mitigate the effects of injuries.
Runners require a tremendous amount of flexibility to move with ease and freedom. Yoga is an excellent way to keep your body in a “hold” position for prolonged periods, leading to elasticity in connective tissues, including muscles, ligaments, and joints. That way, you run with more freedom and ease.
Body Balance & Controlled Breathing
Yoga is a perfect tool that creates an outstanding balance between your body and mind. It teaches you how to take care of your body and utilize that balance of physical exercises, resting recovery, and healing. Hatha is an essential component of yoga that focuses on mastering the art of breathing.
Becoming aware of your body and controlling your breaths nourish and guide your posture or Asana practice. When you have conscious inhalation and exhalation, you become more aware of body sensations.
Faster breathing energizes you, slower breathing calms you, and learning to control your breathing is beneficial. Whether you run long-distance or sprint, you will know when to stay focused and alert or bring about a relaxed mental state.
Mental Strength & Spine Health
Yoga helps you cultivate increased focus and improved concentration with the ability to learn and accept your mind/body and overcome ego. It allows you to control your emotions during discomforting moments, and learning to work through poses perfectly reflects your running endurance.
Besides, meditation techniques and deep breathing in yoga bring mental clarity, eliminate worries, reduce anxiety, and encourage a good night’s sleep, which prepares your body and mind for intense exercises, including long-distance running, jogging, and sprinting.
Discomfort, aches, and pain are common concerns for many runners. The constant impact through your legs to your back can lead to spinal strain, pressure, and discomfort. Yoga is a versatile health approach that offers you various poses to strengthen your spine and stretches your back to help prevent problems like degenerative disc disease, lumbar spine pain, and scoliosis.
Best Yoga Poses for Runners
Incorporating the following yoga poses in your daily or weekly routine can strengthen weak spots, loosen tight spots, and make you a stronger, better, and effective runner. Continue reading!
Downward Dog is an excellent yoga pose for runners as it stretches your calves, hamstrings, and foot arches. It also strengthens your shoulders and other body muscles, allowing you to better prepare your body for running. View the full tutorial for this pose here.
Low Lunge is another best yoga pose for active people, including runners and athletes. It focuses on different body muscles, such as quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors. Not only does it stretches your muscles, but it also strengthens them. View the full tutorial for this pose here.
Pigeon Pose opens the hips and stretches the psoas for a delightful, and at times challenging, pose. It is also a slight backbend when practiced traditionally, but if you lean forward and rest your forearms on the floor in front of you, instead of leaning back, you will feel a deeper stretch through the hips and glutes. Be sure to practice equally on each side. View the full tutorial for this pose here.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
You might think this pose is too easy and skip it, but don’t! This inversion pose stretches the quadriceps and releases tension and pressure from the lower back. This pose is a wonderful compliment to high-intensity workouts and long runs, and will actually soothe and calm your nervous system. Try practicing Legs Up the Wall Pose as part of your nighttime ritual before bed for a better night’s sleep. View the full tutorial for this pose here.
Standing Forward Bend Pose
To all of our bendy friends, this one may seem simple, but don’t be fooled. Standing Forward Bend Pose serves many benefits like stretching the quadriceps and lower back. Additionally, it relieves tension and pressure from the neck. Practice this pose whenever you need a little refresh or relaxation or are having a stressful day for a nice dose of energy and to lighten the load. View the full tutorial for this pose here.