5 Reasons All Runners (Or Anyone With Tight Muscles) Should Do Yoga
Yoga has more going for it than just the comfy pants. Here's why, if you're a runner, you should be doing yoga:
1. You'll build flexibility.
This one's kind of obvious, but your goal isn't to look like the bendy model in a Lululemon catalog. Yoga can mitigate excessive tightness that affects your gait or range of motion and increases injury risk, especially if it's more pronounced on one side of your body.
2. You'll breathe better.
In yoga, you learn to breathe from your diaphragm, which oxygenates your blood better than shallow breaths. Carry that over to running for an extra boost with every inhalation.
3. You'll train your brain.
The ability to remain present and avoid dwelling on discomfort can help you avoid panicking or tensing up when a run gets tough.
4. You'll learn about your body.
Doing every pose on both sides helps you reveal potential injury-causing imbalances in strength or flexibility you might not have noticed while running.
5. You'll get strong all over.
Yoga requires upper-body strength that running does not. Additionally, poses that require balance strengthen hip and core muscles that protect the lower body from misalignment and injury.
So now that you know why you should do it, here's how to make your yoga habit actually happen.
If you're a total noob, begin by trying out a few key poses like pigeon, revolved low lunge, and legs up the wall at home. Supplement with a five-minute meditation to build focus and mindfulness—several apps offer guided options.
Sample the offerings.
You can take an in-person class—if you're starting out, choose one marked for beginners—or try one of the many routines offered online. If you don't love a style or instructor, keep searching until you find your match.
Yoga isn't a race, so don't try to compete with your classmates. Focus on what you're doing, and ignore everyone else—except the instructor, who can ensure you're doing the poses correctly. When in doubt, opt for a shallower stretch—you don't want to hurt yourself.
Avoid overdoing it.
You can do restorative yoga pretty much whenever you want, but avoid power or advanced varieties the day before a hard or long running workout or race.
Adapted and reprinted from How To Make Yourself Poop: And 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know, by Meghan Kita. How To Make Yourself Poop: And 999 Other Tips All Runners Should Know is available wherever books and e-books are sold.