I’ve tried yoga in the past, but I am dreadfully terrible. I know yogis say that everyone should work at their own level and there is no judgment in a yoga class, but I can’t help but feel inferior among the flexible yogis in class. I look around the class and see others bended into parsvottanasana or displayed in a beautiful headstand while I crying in pain in pigeon.
I’m inconsistent with my yoga practice, always favoring running, weights or AirFit in lieu of getting my asana on. However, in my August PopSugar box, I received a three month subscription to MyYogaWorks, so I figured it was a good time to pick up my practice again…only in the privacy in my own home.
First, Oh.My.Goodness! I LOVE MyYogaWorks! I do not receive any benefit from telling you about them…I just truly love their online yoga classes. I simply signed up with my free promo code and I was able to take unlimited classes from the privacy of my own home. On Sunday, my daughter and I took the family yoga class, which is designed for parents to do with their kids. I then took a quick 15-minute PowerUp class. Today I took a 30-minute “Unshrug Your Shoulders” class. I took the class after a 7-mile run and I felt so much relief after the 30-minute session. I hold a lot of tension in my neck and shoulders, so I benefit greatly from that class.
As runners we often put yoga last on our list and we prefer to hit the road than the yoga mat. However, there are great benefits of yoga for runners.
- Prevents injury – As I spoke about in my article on weight lifting, running can cause imbalances. Mackenzie Lobby (2014) with Women’s Running says more than 50 percent of runners get injured every year. Many of these sports injuries are caused by imbalances. When you run, each time your foot strikes the ground 1,000 times each mile. The force of the impact is three to four times your weight. Yoga can help repair the imbalances and bring relief to the pounding.
- Improves breathing – Focusing on your breath is a key component of yoga. Pranayama, breath work, used in yoga teaches you how to breathe correctly. Deep breathing can help in running because it can help you in the tough miles, finishing a race and/or pre-race jitters. Running is critical for running because it helps increase lung capacity and creates an even breathing pattern throughout all phases of running.
- Improves strength – I was disappointed when I went to do the chaturanga today and I have difficulty holding the pose. In the amount of time that I’ve taken away from my yoga practice, I’ve lost strength. However, I’m sure I can gain the strength back with consistent practice. Yoga can improve core strength and is great for the abdominals and arms. Check out this great article on how to do the chaturanga correctly and build strength.
- Enhances relaxation – I’ve been feeling fatigued lately, which I think is a result of a great amount of stress at work and in school. I’ve been having a difficult time relaxing before bed because my mind is racing with everything I need to do for work and school. Practicing yoga can help reduce stress, reduce fatigue, improve concentration, improve sleep, relieve physical tension and clears the mind.
- Boosts flexibility – Yoga can offer runners greater flexibility, thereby releasing tight muscles, increasing range of motion and decreasing stiffness. This can then reduce aches and pains. Running can also enhance strength in ways that running can not. Overly tight muscles can be weak muscles, because the muscle cannot contract and relax and lengthen when needed. A healthy muscle needs to move through the range of motion. Yoga can also strengthen a range of muscles, whereas running only focuses on the lower body.
Do you like yoga? Do you add it in your exercise routine?