Yoga for Runners

Kudos to the many MBS members who participated in the annual Rock n Roll Marathon a few weeks ago. For the runners, this race is often the culmination of months of training, working with personal trainers, or joining running groups to get ready for an extraordinary test of endurance and will. Whether you ran the 10k, Half- or Full Marathon, or even just watched, this mammoth event inspires many of us to get off the couch and strap on some running shoes.

We are starting our running training early this year with a special workshop series, Yoga for Runners. Timed to prep athletes for the Run the Alamo Marathon in March, this 6-week series is led by experienced runners and mobility specialists who will guide you through routines to improve your efficiency, breathing, and time. For those of you still thinking about maybe trying a run later in the year, this course will get you into some good habits and prepare your body for the hard work ahead.

Here are 5 reasons yoga benefits runners.

  1. Yoga teaches you to be the boss of your breath. Your body naturally demands more breath during prolonged running. Training in yogic breathing teaches you to increase your breath capacity by engaging the more efficient abdominal and thoracic breathing apparatus in the body–your respiratory diaphragm–and reduces the amount of shallow neck and upper chest breathing that leads to tension and pain in the neck and back.
  2. Yoga prepares your tissues for what’s to come. Yoga offers movement to all the joints and muscles of your body. As the muscles become responsive and flexible, proper yogic alignment ensures this increased mobility happens safely. As a result, you will have less pain and soreness. 
  3. The body craves balance. Running creates musculoskeletal imbalances by repeatedly using a specific group of muscles in the same way over and over again. The repetition of the same movements creates a unilateral type of strengthening that leads to one set of muscles becoming stronger, while the opposing group of muscles is left behind. This leads to a biomechanical imbalance–which in turn leads to injury. While running moves in one plane, yoga utilizes multi-directional movement. This allows the body to lengthen the tight muscles created during running as well as strengthen the opposing muscle groups. 
  4. Yoga stimulates the proprioceptive nerve tissues in your body that help to map where you are physically in space. This mapping is critical to facilitate better balance and smooth movement over all of the terrain you may encounter on your run.
  5. Yoga teaches your body how to relax skillfully and down regulate your nervous system for optimal physical recovery between workouts. The sense of physical well-being sensed in the body after a run may feel wonderful but it’s actually a sensation induced by the stress response in the body known as fight or flight. Those endorphins and other neurotransmitters make us feel good and, for the short term, diminish pain, but after a run your body needs recovery time. Yoga stimulates the parasympathetic branch of your nervous system that is critical for rest and recovery. With optimal rest and recovery, your next run is primed for success because your tissues have had time to heal in a way that is constructive and effective.  

Learn more and check out the series on Thursdays beginning January 24. Sign up here!