You can google it, ask about it, give it a chance. No matter where you go, you will hear about the physical and mental benefits of yoga. Maybe somebody told you about their endless bliss with their leg behind their head. Or maybe you heard about those nice 100 degree studios. Either way it all comes back to why? Why yoga?
And for this specific blog post, why yoga for runners?
The most obvious and relatable one for runners is the physical benefits. I am a runner myself, ranging from track days, marathons, to simply getting outside to enjoy the weather. It was through running that I was introduced to yoga. I loved the cross-training benefit. Yoga provides abdominal strength, flexibility (yes your hips do move in more than one motion), and recovery.
In a yoga practice there are standing and balancing postures, backbends, and of course abdominal exercises, all of which prompt stability, balance, posture, and control. For runners you want to utilize these exercises to reinforce the way your pelvis, abdominals, hips, and lower back work together. The stronger your core, the stronger your posture – especially distance runners!
“I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible.” Short answer: That’s why you practice yoga. This isn’t about touching your toes. Yoga reduces muscle tension, strain, and inflammation. As runners you need to keep your lower body flexible, i.e. calves, hamstrings, quadriceps, etc. for injury prevention. Yoga is a practice, and just like running, the more you do it, the better the results.
Post run yoga is helpful in reducing pain and stretching tight muscles, meaning a faster recovery! The beginning of the yoga sequence should flow; not for speed, rather a range of motion. The goal is to get your blood flowing so that you can settle into restorative poses near the end of the practice.
You been asked it, you’ve pondered it – why do you run? Whatever your answer, it may be why you’ll enjoy yoga. Study after study has identified that yoga increases body awareness, decreases stress, improves concentration, and calms the nervous system. This won’t happen your first yoga class or your third one for the year. And to be even more honest this isn’t something a teacher is going to hand you. These benefits are your practice. Just like why you run to clear your mind after a busy day, sweat because it feels damn good, or spend time with a friend – it’s your run.
“But I’m not good at yoga”
If you get anything out of this post, please write on your yoga mat and sneakers…GOOD IS A RELATIVE TERM! At the start of your yoga practice set an intention; how do I feel right now? Or what do I want out of my yoga practice today? When you go out for a run, conscience of it or not you set an intention. “I am forgetting about that deadline” or “I am going to conqueror that hill today”. And while you’re running or practicing yoga, you will totally forget your intention. And why is that? Running and yoga are challenging and shift your attitude. Keeping your intention strong is an attitude, its saying yes to you, that’s right, good enough, YOU! And that is way more powerful than having your leg behind your head.
You’ve read my perspective, so now what?
If you’re open to give it a shot, I invite you to monthly yoga for runners at Philadelphia Runner Manayunk store. This class is free and occurs on the first Wednesday of the month at 6pm.
I also invite you to my home in Roxborough/Manayunk, every Tuesday 7pm. I’ve recently left the yoga studio scene to get back to my intention for teaching yoga. I want to make yoga accessible, relatable, and affordable. 7 years ago yoga cost $10-12 a class and now the business of yoga is $17-25 a class. Personally, yoga is not about business or branding. For more information on this class and address, check out Yoga with Elyse.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. There are thousands of blog posts, books, videos, etc out there so it is very humbling to share my experience with you.
Whatever you do after this, be all in! Why? Because why not!
Written by Elyse V. Elyse is a Philly based social worker & yoga teacher. She is acting on a self pledge to share yoga beyond the studio. Elyse teaches/has taught at elementary schools, homeless shelters, treatment programs, her own home, Philadelphia Runner, office settings, etc. Her inspirations encourage letting go of preconceived notions and shift to a positive, hopeful mind for the best possible outcome. Elyse teaches yoga as a clear, intentional everyday, every interaction practice.