Running is an excellent workout for runners. Whether as cross-training or an active recovery day, yoga helps to bring fresh nutrient-rich blood to tired muscles and change up the normal workout routine. Yoga's focus on deep stretches and core strengthening movements are just a few of the positive attributes of this practice for runners.
How runner's can get started doing yoga
Add a few poses to the beginning or end of your workout
One of the easiest ways a runner can add yoga to his or her practice is to incorporate a few minutes worth of poses before or after workout. After performing your usual warm up, holding 1 or 2 poses for 3-4 breaths will provide you a taste of what yoga has to offer.
Many runners often use their warmup as a time to 'lock-in' and focus. Yoga can be a great contributor to that process by forcing you to focus on your breath and balancing yourself.
If performing yoga after a workout or run, a variety of poses can aid in helping tired muscles recover faster. There are 5 beginner-friendly poses listed at the bottom of this article. These poses will help with tight hamstrings, tired hip flexors, and any other weak areas.
Reach out to your running friends
Even if you prefer to run solo, there's likely a Facebook group in your city that can point you in the right direction. Most runners tend to cross-train in other fitness areas like yoga, cycling, weight lifting, swimming, etc. A quick search will yield some good results or head on down to your local running store and ask around.
If you do run with a group and someone within the group happens to be a member at a local studio, he or she will likely have a 'friend's pass' they can use to bring you to a class for free or at a discounted rate!
If you do decide to attend an in-person studio, make sure you check out their schedule beforehand. Most studios often have several different types of classes going on each day for a variety of skill levels. Most runners will enjoy a Bikram yoga or Vinyasa-style class.
Find an online class
If an in-person or local class isn't your jam, there are plenty of online options you can do from the comfort of your living room. There may even be runner-specific ones. YouTube is an excellent free-resource.
How runner's should use yoga in their workout routine
Add in a cross-training day
Many athletes focus on working out at least 6 days a week, but with varying intensities. It's not a good idea to go 100% every single day - that's a recipe for overtraining and injury.
For most endurance runners, 80% of their miles are based on easy runs, while the remaining 20% are tempo style runs. On off days, some runners choose to rest entirely by doing little to nothing, while others may add in a light weight lifting, swim, yoga, or bike session.
If you've already hit your mileage for the day or week - yoga is an excellent, low heart rate activity. Regular yoga practitioners do it and so do professional athletes. It helps to prevent injury, promote recovery, and keep your momentum going without adding too much stress to the body.
Do a short night-time routine
A short night time routine that incorporates deep breathing will help your muscles relax and potentially promote better sleep. Spending just 10 minutes can make a significant difference on how well you sleep and how you feel when you wake up in the morning
3 Science-backed Benefits of yoga for runners
- Yoga has shown have a significant, but small, positive physiological and psychological effect on competition runners, based on a 2006 study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
- Long-term yoga practice has shown to reduce the effects of back pain, a common issue in runners, based on a 2020 study published in the Journal of Holistic Nursing Practice.
- Yoga has shown to increase brain function in a variety of individuals, including runners, based on a 2019 study in the Journal of Brain Plasticity.
5 yoga poses all runners should do
- Downward Dog
- Crescent Lunge
- Pigeon Pose
- Standing Forward Bend
- Cobra Pose