Running is the best exercise for your body as it offers an array of health benefits. Running is also good for your mental health. Every runner should consider yoga as their perfect running partner. Yoga offers a chunk of health benefits by improving a runner’s physical, physiological and mental levels. Yoga makes their cardiovascular systems more effective by improving aerobic and anaerobic endurance.
Let us understand why we recommend yoga for runners and what are the benefits of indulging in a pre-run yoga pose. Besides, we will acquaint you with the best yoga poses for athletes.
Why is Yoga Important for Runners?
1. Uplifts Your Performance
To maintain your full-body strength and mobility, you should practice yoga along with your running exercise. Running is an exercise that makes you a little bit off-balance. Many runners often feel weakness or tightness in their hamstrings due to a sedentary lifestyle. If you run in this condition, then it may lead to a leg injury. Thus, a runner should practice yoga to improve his/her endurance, stamina, and strength.
2. Improves Your Flexibility
Yoga improves your flexibility that will bring more stability while running. Many runners often experience tightness in their piriformis muscles, quadriceps, hamstrings, and IT band. Yoga releases the piriformis, quadriceps, and hamstring muscles. Thus, every runner should opt for yoga along with running.
3. Expands Your Body Awareness
Several experts believe that yoga will expand your awareness regarding your body while running. Yoga is ideal in identifying where you are putting unnecessary strength or holding onto tension. A runner should identify an unhinged step or should know how to release tension in the shoulders and arms.
4. Develops Your Breathing
While running, yoga improves your breathing. Yoga approaches put stress on breath and, more importantly, diaphragmatic breathing. Once you learn all breathing techniques, these will improve on those moments of high adrenaline when you usually hold your breath.
5. Strengthens Your Mindset
Yoga is important for your mental health. Yoga helps you to deal with stress, boredom, and discomfort without any reaction. Under these scenarios in running when you want to quit or stop, yoga makes you calm and improves your mindset which will help you to keep going.
7 Yoga Poses for Endurance Athletes
Here, we are going to mention the top 7 yoga poses for runners.
1. Downward-Facing Dog
This traditional and classic yoga pose improves your strengthening and lengthening. This posture is ideal for your feet, ankles, calves, hamstrings, glutes, and lats.
- Keep your wrists directly under shoulders and knees under hips
- Now, push back yourself with your hands
- Straighten your legs and curl your toes under to lift your hips into the air
- Spread fingertips and press down through hands
- Use your quadriceps to take some of your body’s weight off your arms
- Move shoulders away from ears and keep your head hanging heavy
- Keep your tailbone high and try to drip your heels to the ground
- Keep hand, feet, shoulder, and hip-width apart.
2. Mountain Pose
This is the best pre-run yoga pose. Mountain pose is ideal for improving your confidence and focus. This is a warm-up before a run.
- First, you need to stand with your two big toes touching the ground. Make a gap between your heels.
- Press the thigh bones back while bending the tailbone forward.
- Pull shoulders back and unstiffen your ribs
- While lengthening your body, press down through your feet
3. Forward Fold
If your hamstring muscles are tightened, then you must consider this forward fold posture to improve your flexibility.
- First, stand up straight with feet hip-width apart
- Now, bend your hips and start exhaling (keep your back as flat as possible)
- Bend elbows and hold on to each elbow with the opposite hand
- Let your head hang heavy
- Press heels into the floor and raises your sit bones
- Raise lift and lengthen your torso while breathing
- While exhaling, sink deeper into the pose
4. Bridge Pose
If you are suffering from back pain, then the bridge pose will assuage your lower back tension and pain.
- You need to lie down with knees bent and feet should be flat on the floor.
- Bring feet close as much as possible
- Place your arms on the floor, exhale, and raise your hips into the air
- Fasten your hands together under your pelvis and stay on the top of your shoulders.
- Raise your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor
- Keep your neck long and tilt your chin slightly away from your chest
5. Lizard Lunge
This is perfect yoga after running. This posture stretches your quads, hip flexors, and hamstrings to improve mobility and prevent injuries.
- First, you need to start with the Downward-Facing Dog pose.
- Keep your right foot up and place it on the outside of your right hand as if you are in a lunge position.
- Lower your left knee to the ground and press into your hips
- Ensure your front heel is directly below or slightly in front of the knee. Try to avoid putting excess stress on your knee.
- Gradually lower your forearms onto the floor (keep your back flat and head should be aligned with spine)
- Straighten your left leg while pressing up on the ball of your foot
6. Tree Pose
Try to practice tree pose to improve running form and running mechanics.
- First, stand up tall with feet hip-width apart
- Keep your hands in front of you in a prayer position
- Slowly move your weight onto the left foot and elevate your right foot above the floor
- Keep the bottom of right foot on the inside of the left thigh (Your pelvis should be straight and your toes pointed down)
- Now, pressing your palms together, stretch your arms up over your head.
7. Half Pigeon
If your hips become too tight due to running, this pigeon pose can fix them.
- Start in Downward-Facing Dog and take your right foot up to right wrist
- Lay your right shin and knee on the floor
- Straighten back leg down onto the floor (your legs should look like the number seven)
- Based on your flexibility, move your legs as much as possible from the groin
- Now, keep your shin parallel to the front of your mat
- Make an alignment with right knee along with right hip and flex right foot
- Walk hands forward as much as you can and lower your forehead onto your mat
The Bottom Line
Yoga and running should go side by side to maintain your overall fitness. Yoga makes a better runner in every way possible. By including yoga in your running regime, you can prepare your body for a run, recover from a run, and maintain a good running posture.