You can practice running or yoga for an hour every single day for a month, a week, a year or a lifetime and while your focus might be on the physical results, something more creeps in when you aren’t looking.
While the two practices tend to believe they teach very different things, I think they’re more similar than devotees would care to believe. And of course it’s often claimed that “every sport benefits from yoga, but no sport benefits yoga” I once again must disagree and today we’re going to look at how the two combine to improve our breathing, hips and mental strength! BREATHE STRENGTH
Breathing is a central focus of both running and yoga.
The right breathe in running provides oxygen to your muscles for endurance and preventing cramps. The right breathe in yoga provides focus and body awareness…hmm sounds like both would be great in either situation!
Called pranayama in yoga, the focus is to deepen, lengthen and extend the breath, which is then paired with movement (the linking between breath and movement is typically how a vinyasa style yoga class is defined, as the connection between these two elements creates flow and continuity).
In yoga, it’s taught as the Ujjayi breath- a full, rich, yet smooth diaphragmatic breath in which the inhalations and exhalations are completed through the nose and are done so in equal length.
With practice, this style of breathing can help extend the breath for a longer duration, allowing for improved endurance due to the greater amount of oxygen, and because of its rhythmic and calming nature, it also helps to reduce stress and provide almost a meditative like quality, which can certainly enhance the running experience.
In running, we focus on in through the nose and out through the mouth as though blowing through a straw. Read more on how to find the perfect breathing style for running and combating allergies for better breathing.Learn how the yoga-running connection is about more than flexibility #runchat Click To Tweet
Over the last few years, I’ve harped on hip strength repeatedly here as a means to prevent injuries. We know that yoga can provide great opportunities to strength our hips, increase flexibility and range of motion.
As a yogi or runner, we are provided opportunities to become more in tune with our body and paying attention to those feelings allows for great ease in both our workouts and everyday movements.
Many of the movements in these routines are derived from yoga:
These allow for greater focus on the hip joint and on stretching the muscles in that area of the body which is not only important for runners (who often have misalignment in this region), but also for just about every person who spends the majority of their day in a seated position, such as at a desk or when driving a car (which causes the hip flexors to tighten and shorten). In addition to greater flexibility and improved range of motion, yoga has also helped me to develop greater core strength and awareness of how my body moves. Runners may need to work on a lot of things (like touching our toes) when we start yoga, but our endurance and dedication to slow and steady progress make us GREAT at the practice of yoga.
One of the greatest things I’ve learned through my running journey is to be open-minded and to embrace every opportunity, concepts which I regularly impart upon my athletes. Yoga provides runners with a different opportunity to practice mental strength – the kind that requires you to be ok with slowing down and stillness.
Taking the first step (pun intended) and attempting yoga, as something so different from running is part of cultivating a mental strength that will flow over to better running.
During yoga class, teachers help remind us how to release what is not serving us, how to thank our body and be calm in the face of discomfort. Those lessons make it easier to both run farther and harder as we absorb them subconsciously. One of the things which you hear most frequently from runners and yogi’s alike is that the practice changes you. #MilesChangeYou is a mantra I’ve been sharing on Instagram for awhile because I hope to encourage new and non-runners to see beyond the calorie burn.
During a 30 day yoga streak, here area some of the things which reinforced so much of what I’ve learned through running:
1. Breathe…when it’s tough just breathe
2. Alternate from high intensity to low intensity
3. Standing still is not easy
4. Pull your shoulders back and stand proud
5. Tighten that stomach
6. Quality matters
7. Every teacher is not the perfect teacher, but there is something to be learned
8. Sometimes you need to do your own practice
9. It’s called practice, not perfection for a reason
10. You’re never too old
11. There is always time for things you want to do
12. Any space is big enough to connect with your inner self
13. Let your heart shine
14. Don’t compare yourself
15. Flexibility is about more than your physical muscles
16. Sometimes being still is the hardest workout
17. Smile it makes the difficult seem more fun
18. Appreciate your body for what it can do
19. Gratitude…have it for everything
20. You can get injured doing anything if you refuse to focus on the details
21. Be present
22. Focus on one thing at a time
23. We are all connected
24. It’s not all or nothing, it’s a little bit every day
25. Be willing to change to see change
26. Even lift shifts can have a major impact
27. You will fall because you try and because you try you will succeed
28. Don’t push or strain, instead just keep leaning in
29. The goal is ever changing as you are ever progressing
30. Your body can guide you, if you are quiet long enough to listen
How often do you practice yoga?
How has running or yoga changed you beyond the sweat?
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