I’ve loved yoga for years. It’s always been the perfect compliment to my running. However, I wasn’t as faithful to my practice in the past year or so. I kind of fell off the mat. In that time frame, I also became plagued with running injuries. I was focused on the run and didn’t have time for anything else. I knew I needed to get back to my mat but the final AHA! moment came when being evaluated by a physical therapist for my Achilles injury back in October.
She said I was tight. And that I had muscle weaknesses.
No one calls me tight or weak!
Right then and there I vowed to get back on my mat in a studio. A home yoga practice wasn’t working for me. There was just too many distractions. Around the same time, I was asked to be a part of prAna and FitApproach 30 day yoga challenge, #TakeTheLeap. I love Instagram challenges and prAna so it was a match made in heaven. Or more appropriately, a match made on a yoga mat. By the way, you can still get 15% off your total order from prAna’s new spring collection with code psps15HFM at checkout.
Since reconnecting with my mat, I’ve reaped the benefits, mentally and physically. I never want to fall off my mat again!
1. It will make you more limber. Active stretching is the most effective way to increase and maintain length in muscle fibers. Those 5 minutes you spend stretching when you get home are nothing compared to 45 minutes of active stretching in a Vinyasa yoga class.
2. It will help prevent overuse injuries that happen because of muscle/tendon tightness. When we run, everything tightens up to prevent our joints from wobbling about. And that’s a good thing. But repetitively being tight is not a good thing. Your muscles and tendons need to be pliable to keep you moving comfortably for years to come.
3. It can correct muscle imbalances & injury prevention. If you run and don’t do anything to maintain strength and flexibility, chances are that you will end up with a running injury sooner or later. You want to maintain range of motion and stretch out the muscles that get tight from running. Yoga can correct muscle imbalances created from high impact training, by aligning the joints, improving bone density and stretching and stabilizing the body to prevent pain and injury. Particularly in running injury prone areas like the IT band, hips, hamstrings and knees, calves, Achilles tendon and feet.
4. It can help you recover faster. Practicing a few yoga poses after a run when your muscles are warm will help to make you feel a whole lot better the next day. Tense muscles don’t receive blood, so use yoga after your run to keep your muscles open for movement enabling oxygen. HERE are my favorites.
5. It increases your oxygen capacity. When’s the last time you took a deep, meaningful breath? Most of us are shallow breathers. It’s the “normal” thing to do. A regular practice of yoga can increase your ability to breathe more deeply which results in more oxygen being supplied to our blood system. Your muscles need oxygen to fire optimally.
6. It will make you stronger mentally. Every runner needs mental toughness. Not every run will be perfect and rosy. There will be times when you want to quit. Your legs will be tired. Ever had to hold a yoga pose while your legs are burning and shaking? It’s the same thing. I’d like to think that the reason I held it together for my recent 99 laps on an indoor track, were all a part of my mental strength building thanks to yoga.
7. It will make you stronger physically. Yoga hits the upper body, lower body and core all in one. It’s a total body workout that only requires your body weight.
Disclaimer: As part of the #taketheleap challenge, I was given an outfit courtesy of prAna. All opinions are my own.
Do you do yoga?
How has it helped you in running, fitness or life?
If you don’t do yoga, why not?