I incorporated Yoga into my running about a year and a half ago and have found it quite beneficial and complementary to my running training. The benefits include improved flexibility, balance and core strength. Also, Yoga is great for restorative aspects, helping the recovery of the body after hard runs.
Many people are turned off from yoga for a variety of reasons. Excuses include the following.
– I’m not flexible. Response: Neither am I. However, the great thing about yoga is that you can still get the benefits of yoga regardless of your flexibility. I’m as inflexible as they come, but over time, improved flexibility will come and you will feel your muscles begin to elongate and be more supple. The key is to not push yourself to advanced poses until you are ready.
– It is boring. Response: Yes, I agree, sometimes it is. About 1 hour is the max for me when doing yoga, but I only go this long on occasion. Normally, my sessions between 15 to 30 minutes and find a variety of different sessions to keep it more interesting.
– I don’t have time. Response: I understand, we’re all busy and throwing in another exercise is sometimes just not feasible with our schedules. However, I really believe investing 20 minutes in a yoga session three times a week with provide substantial return on investment in terms of reducing your susceptibility to injury from running, improved strength and overall fitness. Also, there are a lot of good resources online to allow you to do this from the comfort of your own home, giving you the flexibility of when you can fit a session in.
– It’s weird and cultish. – There are people who practice yoga for the spiritual aspects. As a Christian I try and stay clear of this type of yoga practice. I do it purely for the physical benefits and meet my spiritual needs through my Christian resources. There are a lot of yoga programs out there that don’t focus on the spiritual side.
I usually do some yoga daily. On my non-running days I will do about a 20 minutes session that improves balance, flexibility and strength. Usually when I’ve had a really hard run and I’m feeling my body begin to breakdown, I’ll do a 40 minute restorative session. And every night before bed, I try to do a 10 to 20 minute relaxation session, which I feel improves the quality of my sleep.
There are a number of great resources out there to practice yoga. Of course you could take on-site classes with an instructor, but I prefer online resources. I like the online sources because it provides me the flexibility to work it into my schedule anytime and anywhere, I’m able to still practice while on travel and it is very cheap or free in some cases. Also, the equipment is minimal, basically a yoga mat, block and strap and you are ready to start – probably cost you about $20 – 30. Below are the online resources I normally use.
My Yoga Online -This site has a large variety of yoga levels and programs. The instructors are of high quality. However, there is a fee to get access to programs, but still much cheaper than taking on-site courses.
Yogamazing – Lots of free programs and can be downloaded onto your iPhone. There’s a really good 20 minute yoga session for runners that I often do.