Transform Your Yoga Practice (And Your Body!) With Sprints
When you’re a yogi, you don’t usually think about other types of workouts.
What if I told you there was another way to train that would strengthen your practice? One that would also make you stronger, more balanced and doesn’t take more than 15 minutes twice a week?
No, I’m not selling you anything. I’m talking about sprints!
Sprinting is a great way to get stronger on your mat while increasing your strength, endurance and balance out on the track. Here are five reasons why you should be sprinting to improve your practice:
1. Core Strength
You see those track stars with the killer abs? They don’t get those doing tons of crunches.
The core is the source of all power for any movement we make. When we sprint, our core must work extra hard in order to produce the velocity of the limbs as well as keep the torso stable (so you don’t end up in the stands).
If you’re sprinting correctly, your core, back and shoulders will all be sore afterwards. To do this, keep the following in check:
- elbows bent at 90º at all times
- hands in a loose fist
- don’t let your shoulders hunch, keep push your heart forward like it’s leading you
- long strides (think cheetah over trotting pony)
- make an arc with your arms as you run while focusing on driving your elbow forward until your hand reaches the jaw (your right jaw with your right hand, and left jaw with your left hand). Then, drive your elbow back like you’re elbowing someone behind you, until that same hand comes in line with the same-side hip.
Most people think they need to do long runs in order to build aerobic endurance, but actually, sprints build both aerobic and anaerobic endurance, meaning you’ll be able to do other things (like the hardest power vinyasa classes) much more easily.
To get the full benefits from sprinting, you really have to go for it. This isn’t a missing-my-bus jog. This is an oh-my-gosh-there’s-a-bear-chasing-me sprint! You want to go so fast that your body actually can’t keep up with the speed your mind is telling it to go by the end. Failure is your friend here, yogis.
With this kind of challenge, your endurance will change for sure, and so will your physique.
3. Lean Strength
Because of the types of muscle fibers that are worked and the hormones that are raised during and after sprint workouts, it’s rare that you’ll see a successful sprinter who doesn’t have a good amount of lean muscle.
Think of all the arm balances you could do with a little extra strength in those puppies! Consider how much longer you might be able to hold your Warrior 3 without having to hit standing split early!
It’s all possible, and sprinting can be just what it takes to elevate your strength to the next level.
In addition to the lean muscle, the long-term fat-burning potential of a sprint workout is higher than any other cardio-based workout out there. With less weight to lift, and more strength to do it, you’ll be hitting that single arm handstand in no time. ;)
4. Body Balance
Speaking of handstands, the way sprints work your whole body makes them extremely beneficial for the balance of your body’s musculature.
Most of us live sedentary lives at desks or in cars for the majority of the day. Because we are meant to be active, these sedentary lives create imbalances in our bodies, causing pain and injury.
Sprints work you all over: back, shoulders, abs, butt and legs. When you sprint correctly, all of these parts of your body start to work in harmony on the track and beyond.
When your body works together, the risk of injury decreases, and your stability and synchronicity increase. This is the factor that makes tree pose, arm balances and binds so much easier: body parts that get along.
5. Comfort With Discomfort
I've got to be honest with you: most people don't do sprints because they feel like death while you’re in them.
If you’re doing them right, sprints are the most difficult workout of your week, even if it’s only for 10-15 minutes.
That said, these workouts give you the chance to push past your comfort zone so that you may rise past your limitations. When you actively seek the uncomfortable, you create a mindset that is conducive to change.
Without discomfort, change cannot be achieved. If we want something that does not come naturally to us, we will probably have to get uncomfortable in order to get there… and probably multiple times until it becomes comfortable.
Given that you’re reading MindBodyGreen right now, you’re likely looking to grow in every area of your life. Pushing forward with workouts that are outside your comfort zone with a non-yoga workout like sprinting, and also challenging yourself to go to your limits, opens up your perceived capabilities.
If you can push yourself to new limits out on the track, you will be able to push yourself that much further on your mat as well. Open up your practice, and run with it.