Whether you teach yoga classes, run or both, this article is designed to help you understand how yogic exercise can be applied as a therapeutic method for those who enjoy running. Runners are hard on their bodies, including the knees, hips, spine, and hamstrings. Yoga training provides wonderful healing relief for runners, allowing them to have optimal performance when their feet hit the pavement. In addition, yoga visualization and breathing techniques can help keep runners focused and motivated when they hit the road.
There are many yoga postures that can benefit runners after a long run to stretch the muscles and provide greater flexibility and range of motion. A typical yoga asana session also helps to prevent injury or strain in runners. Instead of thinking of yoga as an opposite workout compared to running, think of it as a beautiful companion to provide contrasting stretching and strengthening to enhance a runner’s overall performance.
Several stretches can help runners prepare the body before a run, to ensure the muscles they will work the most are supple and ready to work. Pigeon pose targets the leg and hip joints, ensuring they are well lubricated for the coming run. A wide-legged forward bend will loosen up the backs of the legs while engaging the core and straightening the spine. Grasp both hands behind you and lift the hands up as you fall forward to provide a shoulder stretch. Finally, a low lunge will stretch the calves and hamstrings while stabilizing the knees.
During the Run
Visualization and breathing can give runners motivation, stamina and the will to finish a tough run. Runners can try visualizing their selves crossing the finish line or they might try saying a mantra as they run, such as, “I am strong and fast,” or “I can finish with ease.” When the going gets tough, runners can concentrate on breathing deep and steady, taking their mind off their body for a bit. When cramps inhibit running, breathing deeply into the pain will also help alleviate the cramping in just a few breaths.
After a run many muscles are worked and tight, providing a great opportunity for a stretch while the muscles are still warm. Triangle pose, Standing or Sitting Forward Bends, Pigeon pose, Happy Baby pose, Downward Dog and Head-to-Knee pose target all of the muscles in the legs and provide a satisfying stretch to prevent soreness and injury.
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