Fast forward 4 months later, and yoga is now a big part of my life, and I realise that running and yoga complement each other.
Yoga has brought me so many benefits, physically and mentally. The impact it has had on my running has been immense, before yoga I did not listen to what my body was telling me, not paying any he’d to stiffness or niggles.
Yoga has taught me to listen to what my body is telling me, how it is feeling in any particular moment, it has added discipline to my stretching and recovery after my runs. From a physical point of view the strength and flexibility I have developed on the mat; namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors, is unquestionable and this has enabled me to run more efficiently and stay injury-free.
So should you try yoga?
I say yes, yoga is for everyone from the mum to the athlete and there is a class that will suit every individual’s need. From yin yoga to vinyasa, there is an array of classes to choose from. My tip would be to find the local yoga practices in your area and give them all ago until you find one that meets your needs.
So what lasting benefits has yoga brought me?
Yoga has helped to correct my running form, I have overcome muscle imbalance in my body, strengthening my stabilising muscles, my core and lower back have never been stronger. Yoga has given me a progressive, effective method of stretching out and realigning my body before and after a tough run. Yoga has vastly increased my proprioception (my body’s awareness of itself interacting with space ie: uneven ground) and also my innate reactions to correct for these moments. Also, I am a lot more aware of how my body feels at any particular time, and what I need to do to adjust it, even mid run.
One of the deepest benefits yoga has brought me is a new found mental focus, and awareness of self. While practicing yoga, a big emphasis is placed on focusing on your breath and mindfully awareness of your postures. I have brought this focus outside of my yoga practice which has affected the way I think and focus in everyday life now.
Rolling it up
Now that the intensity of my training is back to previous levels (prior to the injury), there is a trick in how I am practicing yoga. It is not logical or practical to mirror an intense running routine with an intense yoga routine. Your yoga practice should have a converse relationship with your training: Currently as I am ramping up mileage and churning out hard workouts I am sticking with relaxing and slow stretching classes. When my training eases up again most likely come this winter, I will increase the intensity and frequency of my yoga workouts.
Sage Rountree (a yoga instructor, triathlon coach) says it best in her book The Runner’s Guide to Yoga, “Runners are conditioned to push through pain, but bringing that competitive attitude to yoga can be a recipe for disaster.” “Focus on yourself, not what the person on the mat next to you can do,” and realise there’s plenty to gain from a less-than-perfect practice.
So many runners are hard on themselves when they have an off day, whereas in yoga you’re encouraged to accept the body and mind that you have on that day and push it as far as it will go. This is a valuable way of thinking that has brought a new found ease to my running. I would like to finish by saying that runners should start to think this way too, and accept the body and mind that you have on that particular day, don’t worry about your pb’s or what you have done in the past – simply appreciate your running, and enjoy it each and everyday.