By Rhonda Harrison
Runners frequently turn to yoga as a form of cross training. As runners progress in their training, most begin to notice that their flexibility worsens as their personal records improve. Yoga training is a perfect compliment to a runner’s training program because a regular practice gives runners benefits that they can’t get from just running.
The stress of pounding feet on surfaces means that the hip and knee joints quickly become stronger, as the muscles of the lower body grow to support a runner’s body. But the strength comes with a price as it usually decreases flexibility in these areas that power a runner’s stride. Practicing poses such as Downward Facing Dog, Triangle, and Staff Position can help runners get back their flexibility.
A common complaint amongst runners is chronic back pain. This is another area that receives constant pounding from running. By practicing poses that lengthen the back, such as back bends, Triangle Pose, forward bends, spinal twists, and Downward Facing Dog, runners can work on relieving the pressure between disks in the spine.
Yoga training provides even more benefits for a runner’s mental health. Running is often referred to as moving meditation, and without direction, a runner’s mind can quickly tend towards rumination and worry. Yoga’s focus on mental discipline and the focus on the present will help runners from dealing with a racing mindset. Runners tend to obsess on their stride and heel strike, worrying if they are getting the optimal amount of power from each step. By learning body awareness, and becoming conscious of where parts of the body are moving at every moment, runners can evaluate without judgment where their feet are moving as they run.
Runners can choose from different types of yoga practices in order to develop different aspects of their training. Hatha yoga helps decrease blood pressure and heart rates, and deepens the spiritual aspect of running. Others may wish to strengthen their muscles and bones, which and practices such as Bikram and Hot Yoga can tone muscles while improving a runner’s flexibility. For runners rehabbing an injury, gentle yogic practices provide a steady and proven method to promote healing, while improving their health.
Yoga provides an excellent compliment to a runner’s training program. Common asanas help develop the body in ways that will improve a runner’s stride, and do so in a safe and healthy way. The mental aspects of a regular yoga training session give runners an opportunity to use their minds in ways that can help this form of moving meditation.
© Copyright 2013 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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