A guest post for yoga for runners, from our friend Maria Terzi, a yogi and a runner.
Having already acknowledged the benefits of yoga, the healing and restoring effect that I could receive and as I also have been running fotr the last 3 years, I realized that from this combination, a perfectly balanced co operation of activities, would come as a result.
So I started to recommend to fellow runners, to try yoga practice along with their running. Some of them responded, some answered that they were not balanced enough or that their body was not flexible or even that they were bored and couldn’t find spare time to dedicate.
Yoga is addressed to everyone but mostly to those who are in need and certainly some of them are runners.
There is a variety of yoga methods and as a full practice, one can have an intense routine if strength is needed, or someone can choose deep relaxation (nidra), breathing techniques (pranayama) and meditation.
However it’s important to learn and develop the knowledge about how our body works!
This healing practice comes to help runners throughout all three layers: Body, Breath, Mind.
Increasing strength, flexibility, balance, endurance
Runners that keep practicing systematically with certain tough exercises and hard performances that promise to offer power, lead their body to muscular stiffness and common injuries.
Those hard working muscles tend to shorten and contract. Without stretching, the body starts to work in instability.
Tension and stress gathers to the muscular system, joints and ligaments, causing pain and discomfort.
The results of this imbalance are sometimes shown after long terms of time.
The body starts to make more effort, muscles overwork, the weak ones grow weaker and the tight muscles tend to be tighter.
Through asanas (yoga postures) muscles expand, the entire body co-ordinates with the breath, leading to a calm action for the runners advantage.
One needs flexible and elastic muscles to work as a natural shock absorber. Some muscular teams that support and stabilize the entire bone structure should work together.
Practicing in balance or even experiencing the lack of it, a runner can benefit with a self receptive way and learn how to adjust the body weigh in a way that there won’t be any damage as the feet hit the ground.
As the runner’s body increases in power, plasticity and litheness, so is the range of motion.
Breathe – Stamina – Energy
Besides the asanas and all the body work, Yoga is about breathing too. There are breathing techniques (pranayama), that through them a runner can handle breathe in a way than the breathing capacity within the body can be developed and increased.
It’s wrong to restrain breath just to the upper body (chest, sternum). It can be channeled towards the lower belly, making more space. If breathing becomes conscious, it comes as a reward, currying large amounts of oxygen, causing blood stimulation for the muscles to work in a better way.
Most of the (pranayama) can also help to raise and save the energy resources. In that way we can power each and every day with specific, energizing breathing and a clear mind so that endurance will continue to grow.
Significantly, most of the breathing exercises, can be used while we run!
Avoiding, Reducing Injuries – Healing
Alignment is what we should always keep in mind and correct in our daily training, every step of the way, as we stride on to the road or over the trail.
Even a mindful runner may stand against an injury. Pain is a runner’s tragedy.
Our body is a group of puzzle pieces, and if one of them is broken, there’s going to be an impact to the entire body system. For example, injured knees can affect the hip alignment. Weak ankles or unequal pelvic bones can cause tension in the anterior ligaments. Hip flexors usually tighten due to the consciously forward movement while running, causing lower back pain.
A yoga practice that is focusing in the right aliment can be therapeutic.
Additionally, most asanas (postures), have an impact in the central nervous system and mobilize all the good “soldiers”, to heal through the fascia tissue.
Meditation – Calmness – Awareness
Runners often spend too much energy with inner criticism. Long running distance = busy mind!
Meditation helps focusing using our breath at the present time. We can find that powerful, quiet, force, within. Developing awareness, increase self confidence, learning to be observers without judgmental thinking. To build up the greater knowledge to understand how our body works and response, learn to listen and answer to the message send.
Relaxation can keep a runner focused and mindfulness helps save energy levels.
We don’t forget:
- Our body has instinctive knowledge; learn to listen and coordinate.
- Don’t ignore the messages that the body sends, take a break when rest needed.
- Always keep balance.