1) Helps to identify muscular imbalances.
Runners who have visited a physiotherapist at some point in their running life have probably done the test where you squat on your right leg with the left raised and then switch and do it on the other side. What this does is tell the physiotherapist whether one side of the body is doing more work than the other side, which may be the root cause of an injury. Ideally, runners can figure out their own muscular imbalances before winding up in a physio office. One of the best ways to do this is by practicing yoga.
Within a yoga class, one will often be squatting and balancing, forcing attention to how the body works and moves. You can tell where to focus your strength training for increased symmetrical stability. It’s symmetry that’s key. If you wobble equally on each side, you’re likely not at a huge risk for a gait injury, but working on balance will make you less susceptible to pesky ankle sprains.
2) Works on breath control.
Though very different activities, running and yoga share an emphasis on breath control (known in the yoga world as pranayama). In both cases, intent to breath evenly can be a focus which helps to tune out distractions and make for a better experience.
3) Hones focus.
You can take many elements off the mat and bring it to the start line. Our bloggers from City Yogis offer some tips for controlling your breath and calming your nerves. We recommend trying these techniques out before workouts, not for the first time on race day, so you can see what works best for you.
4) Strengthens muscles.
Unlike running, which taxes certain areas of the body more than others, a well-rounded yoga class will engage all the different parts of the body. Particularly valuable to runners can be the glute-strengthening postures, such as chair pose, and core-strengthening postures.
5) Encourages appropriate flexibility.
Excessive flexibility does not enhance performance and should not be the goal of any runner. So, if your enter goal is to be able to fold yourself into a human pretzel, you should probably find another sport. However, if you have an area that is persistently tight, like a tricky hip flexor, or calf that acts up, making a morning or evening ritual of going through a few postures can provide a lot of relief.
6) Prevents injury.
Yoga for injury prevention ties into the piece regarding identifying and rectifying muscular imbalances as well as working on stretching out problematic tight areas. Yoga is a great activity for rest days. It allows you to move your body while giving your joints a break.
7) You already have the gear.
Running gear is yoga gear is cycling gear is hiking gear, pretty much. You can show up to any yoga class in running tights and a sweat-wicking T-shirt or tank and fit right in.
8) It’s a good excuse to buy more gear.
If you’re adding a yoga class into your weekly schedule you can definitely justify buying that pair of tights you’ve been coveting, right?
9) There is a vibrant community.
There are plenty of similarities between running an yoga. Though both yoga and running are personal activities, the experience is often heightened by the presence of others performing the same motions.
10) It’s good for the ego.
Runners are often (read: almost always) competitive. We like to be faster, go harder or do better than those around us. Yoga classes offer the important experience of letting this go and realizing it’s not about being better at it.