Serious running isn’t just a good workout, it is a way of life. Which is why you have to forgive us runners for sometimes forgetting that there are actually other forms of exercise that we could—and should—be doing.
Take yoga, for instance—an exercise that falls on the far opposite end of the spectrum in terms of cardio intensity, but is actually a very good complementary activity to an intense running routine. If you are someone who runs on a regular basis, here are some reasons why you should consider taking up yoga too.
Yoga is great for improving your body’s overall flexibility, which can come in handy when you’re running. This improved flexibility will allow your muscles to stay loose, which can have a positive impact on performance and help you avoid injuries. Yoga is great for working the muscles in your shoulders, back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves, all of which can get very tight with regular running. Adding yoga to your workouts can counter that tightness, which will make you feel a lot better before, during, and after a run.
Yoga doesn’t just improve the flexibility of your muscles; it can also make you stronger. It is a good all-body workout that can help strengthen your core and allow you to build muscles in areas of the body that are neglected by running alone. Yoga builds lean muscle mass that is less rigid, so it won’t impede your ability to run efficiently either.
Running is an intense cardio workout that is as good for your lungs as it is for the rest of your body. That said, not all runners are efficient at maintaining their breath control, which can have a negative impact on their performance. But yoga puts an emphasis on controlling your breath with a focus on developing intricate control over your lungs. This translates well to running also, allowing you to apply the same techniques out on the road or trail. Once you’ve mastered the ability to breathe properly, your running routine will likely get a postive boost.
There is no question that yoga can help improve your balance. Many of the poses that are a part of a yoga routine require concentration, strength, and fine muscle control. Holding those poses for a prolonged period of time will naturally result in better balance, which translates into better agility when running too. This is especially true for trail runners, who often have to deal with uneven terrain or slick and muddy surface conditions.
Great for Rest Days
Every runner knows the importance of rest days. They help your body bounce back and give your muscles a chance to recover their strength. But many runners don’t like to be completely inactive on their day off, which makes yoga a good alternative. Not only will a yoga routine help loosen up stiff muscles throughout your entire body, its slower-paced nature will still give you the rest you need to get ready for your next run. Plus yoga is good for improving blood flow to sore muscles, helping them recover much more quickly.
Because yoga involves a lot of stretching it can naturally help you avoid some of the more common injuries that come along with running. Most runners experience pulled muscles, soreness, and other issues at some point because of overuse, but yoga can play a role in overcoming those issues or avoiding them altogether. The jury is still out on whether stretching helps before a run, but the regular stretches that come along with a yoga routine have benefits that go well beyond the yoga mat.
Finding a State of Zen
Yoga isn’t just about making you physically stronger; it’s also about improving your mental state. It can help you clear your mind, stay focused, and push yourself to overcome obstacles. All of those things can make you a better runner as well, allowing you to stay calm and focused while pushing through those tough miles. That can be an invaluable tool to have at your disposal, particularly if you run longer distances or compete in races.
In addition to improving your abilities as a runner, yoga happens to be a great workout in and of itself. This makes it not just a great complement to other forms of exercise, but a key component to an overall healthy lifestyle.