By Faye Martins
Runners can gain many benefits by making yoga training a part of their fitness routine. Yoga training complements a running routine by providing deep stretches to the muscles that are commonly tight or overworked due to running. It will help prevent injuries while keeping some of the aches and pains associated with running at bay. The mental component of yogic exercise also fits nicely with running, as runners often use visualization, breathing and meditation to push themselves a little further during a run. Yoga teachers should be sensitive to the unique physical, mental, and emotional needs of runners.
Provide Deep Lower Body Stretches
It’s common for runners to have tight hamstrings or calves, as these are the muscles they primarily use during a run. Yoga instructors can help runners keep the muscles long and lean by focusing on lower body stretches. This will allow the muscles to maintain flexibility, which will help prevent future injuries or strains. Continue by providing an overall body stretch to help keep the body balanced. Some runners carry stress in the neck, shoulders or back, too, so it’s important to let all the muscles stretch and release.
Runners can use yoga training to work on breathing techniques to keep their heart rates steady during a run. When runners feel tired or have pain somewhere in the body, a few deep breaths can work wonders as the blood carries fresh oxygen throughout the body. Running itself is often a form of meditation for runners. As they hit their rhythm and keep going, the mind often feels calm and can release all thoughts as they enter. Yoga teachers can help runners remember the importance of visualization by introducing techniques and practicing them. Sometimes all it takes for a runner to get through the most difficult part of the run is a focused mind and a steady breath.
Teach Yogic Exercise as a Tool
Asana can be an excellent tool for runners to use before, during and after a run. Runners can benefit from all the effects of yogic exercise, including better posture, increased flexibility and improved lung capacity. Before a race, runners can use yogic exercise to expel anxiety or focus the mind and body. Yogic exercise inspires an all-over body awareness that can help runners constantly check in with their bodies during a run. Yoga instructors can remind runners that asanas and breathing are extremely useful tools to enhance performance.
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