We are excited to be offering you a Yoga For Runners workshop with Mona Godfrey where you can explore more about how yoga can really enhance your running performance.
Join her on Sat 8 Apr, 13:15-15:15
Book for just £25.
Read more below on how Personal Trainer and Running Coach Yasmine Say has seen nothing but improvements since taking up a consistent yoga practice.
Has your running performance plateaued? Rather than cranking up the mileage, why not try a different approach: yoga?
I’ve been a long-distance runner for over 10 years, and like many other runners I dismissed yoga as one of those ‘hippy exercises’ that just didn’t suit my style of training. Then someone recommended that I try yoga to improve my running technique and in particular, my breathing. I felt like my race times and overall performance weren’t improving as much as I’d like, so I decided to give yoga a try in a bid to get my flexibility back. Fast forward a few years and now my regular yoga practice every week has helped me remain injury-free and improved my running performance. I now recommend it to every one of my running clients as a useful, if not crucial, addition to their training programmes.
So how does yoga help runners?
There's more to yoga than just helping people become more flexible. Yoga does improve suppleness and strength, but it also helps improve balance and coordination, breathing capacity and mental focus.
One of the main issues my clients face with running is their breathing. Shortness of breath, loss of control or lack of good breathing technique are all common assumptions that one is simply unfit. By practicing pranayama (yoga breathing) over several months, you will certainly notice more efficiency in your breathing when running. This means you will be able to work harder for the same heart rate, and could exercise at a higher intensity before hitting the lactate threshold, more commonly known as ‘the wall’.
Yoga breathing also increases your lung capacity and function, even in asthma sufferers. When running at a higher intensity, there is a tendency to breathe too strongly from the chest (low efficiency), which eventually leads to shortness of breath. Yoga breathing, particularly during your final rest or savasana, trains you to belly-breathe, where you can maintain a more controlled, deeper inhalation and exhalation.
Although running is a symmetrical activity, unlike, say, golf or tennis; it largely involves only the lower body, and only in a forwards motion. This can create imbalances in the body - for example, the muscles that move the legs sideways become weak (illiotibial band) while those that are overused become tight (the hip flexors and hamstrings). The continual pounding in running can also compress the spine and lead to a tight chest, shoulders and upper back muscles.
Yoga helps runners by redressing the balance. After all, the body was not designed to move only in a forward motion. We have corners to turn, obstacles to overtake and varied terrain to run across. Yoga aids this by flexing and extending the entire body in every direction - forwards, sideways, backwards and in rotation - so you get a more balanced workout as well as getting the opportunity to identify potential problem areas caused by running, such as over-tight hamstrings or weak glutes.
If nothing else, practicing yoga encourages you to spend more time on stretching; something that runners so frequently neglect. So if you still aren’t convinced, then here are my top 4 yoga poses for runners to practise at home:
- Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose stretches the entire back of the body, from the calves to the shoulders. It also improves blood flow to the entire body and improves circulation in the legs. To advance this pose and open up tight hips, open up either leg to the side drawing the foot towards your glutes.
- Upward facing dog (Urdhvamukha Shvanasana)
This pose opens up the chest and releases tension in the upper body built up after a run.
- Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakoptoasana)
Also known as the king of hip-openers! This pose allows you to stretch deeply into the glutes, groins and psoas (a long muscle on the side of your verterbral column and pelvis).
- Legs up against the wall (Viparita Kirani)
A recovery pose for runners that relieves tired or cramped legs and feet, and helps avoid blood pooling (that sluggish feeling in the legs after a run). It also gently stretches the back of the legs.
For more tips on how to improve your running and fitness, find me on: