Is Yoga Good For Runners?
There are multiple ideas contained in the question of yoga being good for runners.
- Is it a good idea to both run and practice yoga?
- Will yoga make me a better runner?
- What are the benefits of yoga for runners?
- How does yoga keep runners healthy & free of injury?
Throughout this guide, I’ll delve into why yoga is a great companion for running and specific parts of a yoga practice to focus on to become a better, healthier runner.
Is it a good idea to both run and practice yoga?
As mentioned above, about 1 in 7 yoga practitioners are also runners. So clearly, they believe that yoga provides a benefit, if merely by their sheer numbers.
From my experience, running is infinitely more enjoyable with a regular yoga practice.
I ran for twenty-five years, and for the first fifteen, I was a traditional runner. I put in miles about 4-5 times a week, primarily for fitness and to feel good. When I competed, I upped my mileage, was conscious of my nutrition, and wore a bulky first-generation heart rate monitor to avoid “junk miles.
What can I say? I love running.
However, looking back, I realize I could have done things differently that would have made running more fun from the start.
That’s where yoga comes in.
For a decade, I both ran and practiced yoga, often on the same day. And something remarkable happened. My running became almost effortless. That may sound like hyperbole, but yoga taught me how to relax my body, so running felt easier. Through yoga, I learned to breathe, which blew my mind because none of my coaches ever brought it up.
One more thing–I became a better runner.
The Science of Mixing Running and Yoga
Your results will vary, but my experience of combining running and yoga has been very positive. The science also backs this up. Despite all of the claims about yoga as a flexibility practice, which it is, it’s primarily a strength-based practice.
Yoga for Running Injury Prevention
Intuitively that makes sense. A car with 200,000 miles on it is more prone to breakdown compared to one with only 50,000. But what if you took care of the high mileage vehicle and drove the other car fast and furious all the time. Now which one is more likely to fail?
I bring this up because there is a lot you can do to prevent running injuries. How often you run is only part of the reason you might get injured. How you run and what else you do to support your running are more important, like adding yoga.
Running injuries focus heavily on legs, including the knees, IT band, shins, calves, hamstrings, and feet. Knowing this, you can adopt a preventative strategy and prepare your body for running by doing strength and mobility exercises. If this is your goal, choose a type of yoga with these components. (See Best Yoga For Runners below)
If you are interested in how yoga prevents injuries, you can read this article I wrote on it.
Think of yoga as a way to balance your body. It strengthens areas neglected by running, like your upper body, and provides variable movement to counteract running’s repetition.
Benefits of Yoga For Runners
Instead of repackaging the entire litany of yoga’s benefits, which you can read about here, I find it more helpful to tailor the benefits of Yoga Dubai for runners.
That is, what yoga benefits are going to impact your running most.
- Yoga Teaches Runners to Breath Better
- Yoga Teaches Relaxation: The Key to Running Effortlessly
- Yoga Teaches How to Be with Discomfort
- Yoga Teaches Runners to Breathe Better
- Yoga is considered a breath-centered practice.
While breathing is currently a hot topic and the subject of much debate for the last 50 years, yoga has been working on breathing techniques for a few thousand years.
Granted, yogins weren’t trying to achieve a PR in the mile, but their work was incorporated into the modern yoga practice, and that serves us all. breathing is arguably the best-known yogic breath. Here is what it can teach you as a runner.
- You can learn to control your breath.
- Breathe in and out through your nose.
- Slow down your breathing and make it rhythmic.
- Coordinate your breath and movement.
Breath is often an afterthought in both running and everyday life. But changing the way you breathe can make birthing easier, reduce the effects of stress and anxiety and yes, make you a better runner.
Here is the missing piece in breathing that gets overlooked even by yoga practitioners: Relax into the breath.
That takes time to feel, but what it looks like is letting your breath be integral to your experience of movement Yoga Teacher Certification. Instead of feeling like the breath is layered on the movement, it feels like the breath is propelling you forward.
Far from being woo-woo, learning to do this is possible.
Breath Exercise for Runners
Try this simple exercise. You’ll need some way to time yourself, like using your phone.
1 For 1 minute, breathe as you usually do and notice how it feels.
2 For the next minute, breathe in through your nose and out through your nose only, counting down for each breath. Notice how it feels.
Next, try the same exercise under stress. Bend your knees and reach your arms out. We call this utkatasana, or what is commonly called “chair” pose.
3 Again, for 1 minute, try to breathe in your normal way and notice how it feels.
Now stand up and take a moment to recover.
4 Finally, bend your knees and reach your arms out once more. This time, try the Ujjayi Breath, breathing in through your nose and out through your nose slowly on a count of 5-4-3-2-1. Notice how it feels. A characteristic of Ujjayi Breathing is that it relaxes you, even when you are doing strenuous work. That may not have been your initial response to the exercise if it was new to you, but this is what happens over time.