If you hit the treadmill, trail, or road most days of the week, here are some reasons you should spend some time on a yoga mat.
An Easier Time on Hills
All those standing poses like Warrior variations, Fierce, and Goddess are yoga's version of squats and lunges. Within a few yoga classes, you'll notice that your quads, hamstrings, and glutes feel stronger while running, which means an easier time tackling inclines, declines, and uneven terrain.
Less Huffing and Puffing
Yoga teaches you how to take full, deep breaths and to connect your breath with your movements, making oxygen use more efficient. All that deep breathing on the mat will also increase your lung capacity so you're less likely to gasp and struggle to catch your breath while running, especially in high humidity, cold air, and when doing sprinting intervals.
For the Chance to Touch Your Toes
Most runners I know suffer from tight hips, hamstrings, and lower backs. The repetitive motion of running coupled with the fact that most runners skip out on stretching makes for inflexibility. Practicing yoga loosens those tight muscles, which not only feels good while you're doing the poses, but will make your body feel more open while running.
Continue reading for more reasons runners should do yoga.
No More Pulled Hammies
Practicing yoga won't guarantee the end of running injuries, but it's a great way to lower your chances. Since yoga helps increase flexibility and suppleness, it makes pulled muscles less likely to happen. And if running is your main form of exercise, chances are your lower body is super strong, but the rest of you isn't. This muscular imbalance can also lead to injuries, so doing yoga will enable you to strengthen the parts of your body that running doesn't.
Goodbye Aching Muscles and Skipped Runs
Within hours after a long, arduous run, muscle soreness begins to set in, and can last for days afterward, making even simple things like walking down stairs a huge undertaking. And going for a run — forget it! Doing some postrun yoga can help prevent that soreness so you can keep up with your running routine.
I Can Do This
The mental part of a yoga practice is really challenging. When holding a difficult pose like Rotated Triangle, you can't stop thinking, "When will this to be over?!" But you learn to welcome and breathe through the sensations that come up, no matter how uncomfortable. This is really helpful when running, especially if you're doing long distances. Instead of thinking about how many miles you have to get through or how tired your quads feel, you focus on stepping one foot in front of the other, enjoying the moment you're in now.
Yoga teaches you to notice subtleties of how certain muscles and even organs feel in poses, and this immediately translates to your life as a runner. It helps you pay more attention to how your foot lands on the ground, how you push off, how you connect your breath with each step, and how you hold your shoulders and swing your arms. This contributes to becoming a more efficient runner, but it also keeps you tuned into your body's needs. If you notice a muscle tweak in your lower back, your experience on the mat will remind you to listen to your body and back off a little.
Curious? Check out our must-do yoga poses for runners.