I recently completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training, which was a big goal of mine for a long time. My yoga journey began as practicing for exercise, just how I started my running journey. What I’ve come to discover is that doing yoga regularly also helps me mentally. Marathon running, especially the long arduous hours of training, is 90 percent mental. Keeping up with my yoga practice doesn’t just strengthen my body, it also gives my mind a chance to slow down and quiet, a tool that I bring to each 26.2 I run.
As far as the physical practice goes, yoga is a fantastic supplement for most runners. I’ve never been a fan of the gym, so when I graduated from college I decided to try a few different activities. Running obviously captured my heart, but I also dabbled in cycling, Crossfit, and yoga. Yoga has consistently proven to be the perfect addition to my training regimen. Here are five reasons why:
1. Strength training. Many runners simply love to run, but without any strength training you put your body at risk of injury. The strength and core work involved in a power vinyasa yoga class will give you the same benefits as doing squats, lunges, and ab work. All of which make your glutes, legs, and core stronger!
2. Stretching. You do not have to be flexible to do yoga. I wish I could repeat this a million times! Tons of runners aren’t flexible, myself included. However, the stretching that happens in a yoga class will help with flexibility and mobility, in turn preventing injury and providing major relief to sore muscles and joints. After a race or long training run, a yin or restorative yoga class is the perfect cure; your hips and lower back will thank you!
3. Mindfulness. One of the tools in yoga is drishti, meaning gaze. This is perhaps the number one tool I’ve taken from my yoga practice and put into my running. Drishti goes beyond the literal meaning of where you set your eyes and extends to setting your mind on something you want. In training, I set my drishti on my marathon goal. During the race, it might be on staying present and focusing on one mile at a time instead of stressing about what’s to come.
4. Better breathing. Yoga is all about breathing through each pose. Without breath you can’t move. The same practice applies to running; if you can’t breath through your workout you won’t be able to finish it!
5. Community. One of my favorite parts of yoga is being a member of the community. The yoga community is very similar to the running community, fun, friendly, and supportive. The best part? There are many yogis who don’t run, so you get a built in cheering squad on race day.
I’d love to hear from YOU! Do you practice yoga regularly? If so, what type? Send me a Tweet with your thoughts to @LindsayLM…I’d love to chat!