As a runner, I feel like it's one of the best forms of exercise. It's fairly inexpensive, I can do it anywhere, and it strengthens and tones my legs and booty. It also works my heart and lungs, increasing my endurance for other forms of exercise like biking and swimming, and it prevents me from gaining weight. With all those benefits, running also has some disadvantages. My hamstrings and hips are much tighter, which sometimes causes pain in my lower back. I'm sure you fellow runners can relate, and although stretching can definitely help, let's be honest — I know most of us aren't stretching as long or as often as we should.
That's where yoga comes in. Ashtanga yoga is the perfect complement to your running routine for so many reasons.
To find out why,
- Ashtanga yoga classes are an hour and a half long, and in 90 minutes you stretch every part of your body. The room is also heated, so you're at less risk for pulling a muscle.
- Primary Series is the first series you will learn in an Ashtanga yoga class, and many of the poses (like these) target your hamstrings, hips, and lower back — the exact areas runners need to stretch.
- It's extremely challenging, and since many runners are tough and like to push themselves physically, Ashtanga yoga is a better fit than other types like Kripalu or Jivamukti.
- Throughout the 90-minute practice, you do Sun Salutations and vinyasas, which strengthen the upper body. This is very important since running primarily works your legs. Strength imbalances between your upper and lower body can make you more prone to injury.
- Yoga also strengthens your core, improving your posture when running.
- Once you learn Sun Salutation B in class, it's a great running warmup.
- Connecting your breath with your movements is essential when doing Ashtanga, and it's something you can practice on your runs too. By concentrating on each inhale and exhalation, my runs become something of a meditation.
- The sequence in an Ashtanga yoga class is the same no matter who the instructor or where the class. So if you're traveling, you can always pop into a studio and you'll be doing the same order of poses you'd be doing at your home studio.
Are you a runner who already practices yoga? Then I have a poll for you in my Yoga Stretch and Tell group.