Finding a way to balance yoga and running has been on my mind a lot lately, as I have with a little reluctance started to brave the winter weather and get a couple of miles in here and there again. The goal being, number one to feel great, and two to run the Snowdon Trail marathon in the summer.
Plenty of people claim that yoga and running don't mix well, I've even heard yoga teachers make this sweeping statement! I find this a little frustrating as for me it totally depends on a gazillion different factors such as your lifestyle, your body, your fitness background and your goals. Sure maybe if you have super tight hamstrings it will be harder to touch your toes, but maybe you couldn't care one bit about touching your toes!
There's two main perspectives to consider for me here:
1. You're a dedicated yogi looking to start or improve your running
- If this is you, take a little bit of time to asses your body, or see a professional for a thorough opinion before starting your training.
- Diversifying your workouts means you are less likely to pick up repetitive strain injuries from your yoga practice.
- Adapt your yoga practice or switch classes if necessary. If you are pretty bendy, or have very mobile joints it will be worth adding more strength and stability into your yoga practice rather than focusing heavily on flexibility.
- Don't worry too much about running having a detrimental effect on your practice (something I have been guilty of in the past - well Hey there ego!). You won't necessarily lose flexibility through running if you are balanced in your training.
- If you're main workout of the week is a yoga class then great! However adding in some cardiovascular exercise such as walking or running, will be beneficial to your health in the long run.
2. You're a runner wanting to start or improve your yoga
-Yoga helps you to tune into your breath and calm the monkey mind tendencies I think we all get on those longer runs.
- Many runners suffer from tight hip flexors, calves and hamstrings, which can lead to unwanted injuries. Stretching them out in a yoga class will help keep you injury free and improve your stride.
- Yoga improves your postures and makes you more aware of your body, which can be beneficial in improving your running form.
- Similarly to yogis running, you will need to be mindful of over stretching, therefore finding a yoga teacher that explores mobility, strength and stability as well as flexibility.
- Some runners tend to be competitive, try not to bring this into your yoga practice as doing to much to soon could lead to injury. Build it up slowly, just as you had to do with your running.
In conclusion, through research and personal experience, I have found dynamic stretching to be so much more beneficial than static or passive stretching. I'm not saying ditch your yin class, aka heaven, rather, before your run focus more on warming up with dynamic stretches e.g. forward lunge rather than a passive stretches e.g. a forward bend.