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Yoga and Running: Opposites Attract

Yoga is great for stretching and toning your muscles, and increasing flexibility, but as far as a great cardio workout for your heart, it doesn't quite cut it.

That's why running is the perfect complement to yoga. It's practically the opposite of yoga on the exercise scale. Nothing gets the blood flowing and your heart pumping like a good run. On an average mile run, your foot will hit the ground 1,000 times. The force of impact can be 3 to 4 times your weight, so it's no wonder that many runners complain of lower back and knee pain, tight hips and hamstrings, and sore feet.

Running works your lower body brilliantly, but it leaves your upper body in the dust. This imbalance is what can cause so many problems for runners, so that's where yoga comes in. Yoga works your upper body (another reason I love vinyasas) and stretches out tight muscles. It also increases flexibility, which can prevent injury, so you'll be able to run for many years to come. Running and yoga can work as a team to keep your muscles strong and supple, and your bones in alignment.

Although both can be quite meditative and relaxing, neither one is a substitute for the other. Whether you focus more on running or yoga, try to strike a balance since the two compliment each other so well.

Fit's Tips: If you are a die-hard runner, try to remember to make time for stretching before or after your runs. You might even want to throw a weekly yoga class into your routine. On the other hand, if you are more into gentle exercise like yoga and stretching, you've got to remember to work your heart too. Add 20 minutes of heart pumping exercise (it doesn't have to be running), 2-3 times a week. Incorporating cardio and yoga will make your body and mind stronger and more balanced.

Join The Conversation
LindaAnderson LindaAnderson 6 years
As a runner, I definitely understand the fact that my body takes too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of my muscles. For me, yoga is the perfect balancing act to restore, elongate, and loosen my muscles. In fact, without opposing movements, the body will simply compensate to avoid injury by working around the instability. When I’m off balance, I definitely feel it! The beauty of yoga is that its internal focus centers my attention on my own body's movements rather than on an external outcome. Runners can use yoga practice to balance strength, increase range of motion, and train the body and mind. In addition to physically counteracting the strains of running, yoga teaches the cultivation of body wisdom and confidence.
lintacious lintacious 9 years
Yoga is not for me at all. However, I found pilates to be an excellent alternative and a great complement to my running.
Superhamster Superhamster 9 years
i was an avid runner but recently i tried to introduce yoga to my usual fitness regime.. i somehow feel that there was a improvement in my posture and my body felt more streamlined.. this totally changed my perception about yoga being a mere "stretching" sports.. i certainly recommend everyone to try yoga.. especially Ashtanga Yoga :) *thumbs up for yoga!*
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I should do more yoga. I love it; it really helps me loosen up. I tend to focus so much on the cardio that I forget about the benefits of yoga.
mtiger mtiger 9 years
Can anyone recommend a great yoga DVD? I run/walk 3 times a week now...and I'd like to do yoga two days a week. Any ideas? I'm a beginner, so I want something challenging but not advanced.
lil-l lil-l 9 years
I agree 100%. I do both, and enjoy them both!
ashley1 ashley1 9 years
I've just started training for a marathon (taking place next year) and i have found that yoga helps strech my tight leg muscles. i ran about 2 months (on average 15 km per week) before adding yoga to my fitness routine and i LOVE it!
Dannie037 Dannie037 9 years
i've always wanted to try yoga...this post has inspired me to just go ahead and do it already. especially if it'll help my on my long runs!
go4it go4it 9 years
I totally agree with this post. i was a die hard runner for a long time. i added yoga in about a year ago, and not only have i lost a ton of weight, but my running time/distance have improved with leaps and bounds. anyone who is struggling to lose weight needs to try it out. it's not instant, but once it gets going, you will be amazed at what your body can do.
UrbanBohemian UrbanBohemian 9 years
These are the only two exercises my sister does. It certainly works for her!
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