I am not a runner. I don’t run outside. I don’t run at the gym. I don’t own running leggings, or a pair of decent running shoes. The only time I sprint is in London to catch a bus. So, despite being aware of it’s many benefits, I don’t run.
However, having Tala as one of my closest friends, I know about running, casually or extremely, socially or competitively.
I also know about running because I’m a yoga teacher.
Why would there be any connection between the two? Well, I see a lot of runners coming to class as they find the two disciplines marry well together.
Here are my Top 5 Reasons Why:
- The Breath: Sounds pretty obvious but breath is an integral part of both a Yogi’s and a Runner’s experience. The focus placed on breath in a yoga class reminds the practitioner about the significance of breath being intrinsically linked to our overall wellbeing. Not only does it allow us to keep a level head and a focused mind, but also the steadiness and increased depth of breath practiced in Yoga helps with the endurance of the runner. Whether it be an 84k epic run or a 2k sprint, ragged breath is not an option.
- The Hamstrings: The tight spot of any long term runner. Yoga classes, no matter the discipline, include forward folding. The asanas (postures) therefore not only increase flexibility in the back of the legs, but also work to open the hips and spine which the runner then finds contributes to better posture and alignment during running.
- The Meditation: Any non-contact sport where you move ‘alone’, that is without contact with others, like running, becomes a form of meditation. Many people refer to running, swimming, cycling and even surfing as an opportunity to get ‘into a zone’. Having a regular yoga practice in my belief helps improve the quality of your concentration. Using ancient techniques the mind is made stronger, and more accepting of difficulty. This, coupled with the breath, creates perseverance. Trying running for a London bus and you’ll know what I mean!
- The Contrast: As much as we can fall a bit in love with our preferred discipline, it’s good to move in different ways. We can be incredibly proficient at one movement cycle but put a cross fitter on a surfboard or a weightlifter in a dance class and they’ll be sweating faster than Tala runs 1k! Consequently, variety of movement is integral to our health. We shouldn’t strive for only flexibility, nor just strength, nor just cardio. Dedicating yourself to a practice is brilliant, and important, but being open to trying different movements, especially ones which are either less or more intense to what you do regularly, keep both the body, and the mind happy!
- The Overall: We are all looking, hopefully, to be the best versions of ourselves; physically, mentally and spiritually. Taking yourself out of your usual ‘running track’ comfort zone allows you to expand your mind as well as your body. You also get to meet new people, and who doesn't want to be able to do the splits as a party trick?!
So there you have it. My top 5 reasons why more runners should do yoga… and perhaps why more yogis should run! (I may have just convinced myself to try running… GULP!)
*Make sure you tell and yoga teacher if you have any injuries so that they can work with you safely and specifically.
Written for my good friend Tala's website... See Below!