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Is Yoga Good For Running?

Doing Yoga Makes Me a Better Runner, but It's Got Nothing to Do With Flexibility

Yoga has been a big part of my life for almost 10 years, and it was the first form of exercise I ever truly dedicated myself to. I used to practice every single day, sometimes twice a day, until two years ago, when I started to branch out and try other pockets of fitness that I had previously been disinterested in, like HIIT workouts and weightlifting. I noticed that everything I had learned in my yoga practice over the years influenced every other physical activity I participated in, especially running.

Endurance sports are my least favorite thing to do. I don't know what it is about running, but I've never been a fan of it. Perhaps it's because people told me when I was a kid that I'd never be a great runner due to my short legs (mean, I know). Whatever the case is, you'd much sooner find me picking up a barbell than lacing up a pair of running shoes.

In the past several months, though, I've been devoting much more time and energy to running. My strength and flexibility have always been in pretty good shape, but my endurance was lacking. So I religiously started attending the precision running classes at Equinox, which are specifically and methodically created to help you get better at distance running (and make you sweat buckets). My first few weeks were pretty miserable. I wasn't used to doing that kind of intense cardio for a full hour, and there were many times when I simply wanted to quit.

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I soon realized that running was more of a mental challenge than anything else. You have to be OK with being stuck in an uncomfortable state for an extended period of time. When I really thought about this, though, I came to see that this was the same exact principle I'd learned and sharpened in yoga. So I took the resilience and mental fortitude it takes to hold Warrior 3 for what seems like forever, and I transferred it to my running sessions. This helped me push through the toughest of courses with a steady mind.

Furthermore, my yoga practice has made me acutely aware of my body, which I realize is a cliché phrase you always hear in yoga, but it's true. When I began the running classes at Equinox, I was able to take all the feedback from the running instructor and apply it right away. For example, as soon as he told me my right hip was tight, which was causing my right leg to lag behind, I immediately created a yoga sequence for myself that loosened up my right side and allowed me to even out my stride, helping me to run faster. Each time my instructor comes to me with a correction now, I feel confident that I can execute it in real time because I know how to isolate my attention to one specific part of my body . . . and it's all thanks to my yoga practice.

I may never be a champion marathon runner, but the more I apply my yoga practice to running, the easier it gets and the more I can enjoy every mile. And that's all that really matters in the end.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Kathryna Hancock
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