Yoga for Runners

by Christine Bishop and Friends

HMRRC members were surveyed recently to find out how popular yoga is with runners.  The responses ranged over the entire spectrum with many saying they either feel they should do more or they intend to in the future.  To follow are several comments along with pictures from different members that may make you want to run out immediately and buy a yoga mat.

Sally Drake

I took up yoga about 5 years ago when dealing with running injuries. Thanks to several amazing instructors at The Hot Yoga Spot, it quickly became far more than cross training. Yoga is now a daily practice for me and has had a profound impact on my life as an athlete and a human being. In terms of running, yoga has made me much stronger so I am no longer dealing with injuries or nagging over-use aches and pains. It has also given me a lot of insight into why I was running so much and letting myself get so exhausted and stressed out about it. I am much more balanced and enjoy running more. I have many favorite poses. For basic recovery I love Downward Facing Dog. It is a full body stretch and particularly good for the hamstrings, calves and Achilles: all areas runners need to tend to. For balance and strength I love Warrior 3 Pose. Working on one leg poses helps correct imbalances and Warrior 3 is a powerful mental pose requiring intense focus. For a more blissful, fun experience I love headstand. Headstand is a constant work in progress for me but I love the feeling of being upside down-it’s such a relief on tired legs! Waterfall pose is equally effective after a hard run. I encourage all runners to open their hearts to a yoga practice. The benefits of a yoga journey are innumerable and powerful.

Dick Vincent

I do yoga and have been practicing for over 20 years.  In 1996 a friend took me to my first yoga class. I was always having issues with my hamstrings and glutes and yoga seemed to help tremendously.  It also gave me balance for running.  Yoga is a combination of flexibility, strength, and balance and it helped my core stay strong and my range of motion improve.  As runners we don't necessarily need great flexibility, but we do need mobility, and that offered the answer.  It also brought an inner awareness that I don't dare try to explain.

I now have a yoga streak that will be 4 years in October. I promise myself a minimum of 20 minutes a day although most days I go longer.  But having that daily check in keeps me honest.  Otherwise I might go a month without practicing.  Most of my practice is a home practice but I do suggest people go to a studio at least somewhat regularly.  A good teacher/studio will help with alignment and technique that is very difficult to ascertain without a knowledgeable instructor looking in.

As to favorite stances, there are many I like.  The basic sun salutation (which is more of a move than a single pose and is done here by Sally Drake) is excellent.  Down face dog for feet, calves, Achilles.  One I love is called "the World's Greatest Stretch" and there are numerous versions of it.  Here is the basic stretch.  Simple but very effective.

Danielle Kollarus-Maslowsky

I was introduced to yoga (prenatal) about 10 years ago when I was pregnant with my son. I was at a point where running was no longer an option and I needed something to do - so it worked! The magnitude of the practice started about 6 years ago when I took a power yoga class with Tammy Friend (she is in picture below). To my surprise, I fell in love with hot yoga on so many different levels. After 6 years as a yogi I am more flexible, have improved my balance and built more muscle strength, adding one more ingredient to my healthy lifestyle. It's also part of my routine in keeping my back strong and injury free (I have a herniated disc L4-5 S1) so I can continue to run and stay active! It's not only the physical aspects I get from my mat. Yoga is a way to center myself and build awareness for transformation. Spiritually Baptiste yoga (which is my favorite) helps provide a different perspective on life and I have a new sense of gratitude, empathy, compassion and forgiveness. Yoga is a great compliment to running and in my opinion, a compliment to life. I practice one time per week (would love to do it more often) usually at the Hot Yoga Spot in Clifton Park. My favorite pose is downward dog and I enjoy the challenges of learning new poses and getting deeper in stretches. After some yoga classes I leave and having the same "high" as after a good run or race. "The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly." Gautama Buddha

Cadie Cargile Pangie

I started yoga while injured from running. I knew I needed to work on my flexibility and strengthening my stabilizing muscles, since doing the same thing over and over again (which was just running) was injuring me over and over again. I decided to try yoga since it not only focused on flexibility, but I was limited to non-impact activities with my running injury.

I started yoga thinking it would be EASY and not a great workout. I quickly learned that I was not in shape for yoga -- not physically or mentally! I lacked any sort of flexibility, my legs shook and burned in almost EVERY pose, and I didn't have the mental strength to hold poses very long. Being a runner, I was of the mindset to go, go, go. I found it VERY hard to get myself to stay in one place and lean into the discomfort.

After practicing yoga for a while, I came back to running a stronger, more flexible, less injury prone runner. The physical benefits were what I was hoping for, but I was surprised with how much TOUGHER I was because of yoga. I found myself more able to control my breathing and emotions when I got anxious during a hard workout. And I found myself breathing into and embracing the pain of a run better than I had before.

Ever since I have started yoga, I have made it a part of my weekly race training. It has become part of my recovery day that I look forward to and it leaves me feeling better the next day than a complete rest day. I was once the runner who thought I didn't NEED yoga. Now I realize how wrong I was!!

Monthly Column

The Pace Setter has a monthly column called Yoga for Runners by Karli Taylor who is the creator of BarreFlow and is a fitness instructor at Spa Mirbeau, Fleet Feet, Elevate 518, and Jai Yoga School.  In case you want to kickstart your yoga career, you can click on her articles below.

Karli Taylor’s Archive

Balance For Runners: Tree Pose or Vrksasana

Strengthening Your Back: Baddha Hasta Uttanasana, or Ragdoll

Combating Runner’s Butt - Ardha Matsyendra

Exercises to Help in Stability – Ananda Balasana

Stretching Hip Flexors – Anjaneyasana & Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

Yoga for Runners Intro

Famous People Who Do Yoga

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, and his wife Sophie.

Can you guess who these yoga enthusiasts are?

Hint: Patriots Quarterback in air

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