Hello and happy Thursday! This week seems to have been super hectic for me so I will be glad when it rolls round to my Friday night yoga class tomorrow.
Speaking of yoga I have been a reader of OM Yoga magazine for a while now so I was super excited when I was contacted and asked to collaborate with them for some blog posts. While reading this months magazine this article in particular jumped out at me ~ Get Running Fit with Yoga. Running was always my go to sport when I was younger, I thought running endlessly would get me fit but it is only since putting yoga into the mix as well that everything has fallen into place.
Running is a great cardio workout but the stress and impact it puts onto your body and joints can mean muscular imbalance and injury. The repetitive motion taxes a few muscle groups - hamstrings, hip flexors, quads and calves, while under using others. This can result in loss of flexibility. This is where yoga comes in.
Yoga helps to re-establish balance within the body by lengthening tight spots, stretching and it can also help to strengthen the body from the ankles to the core. Poses such as high plank helps to tighten the core, using your core to rise up from upper dog into downward dog also builds strength. If you think about a handstand, it's your core that enables you to maintain the balance. This is beneficial to runners as a strong core means a natural upright 'running tall' position, aiding breathing and ensuring that shoulders are relaxed and the 'action' of running is correct.
I found that through my half marathon training breathing was key. You need to take long, deep controlled breaths in order to maintain pace, relax and enjoy what you are doing. Yoga works with the breath as the body flows through asanas (poses) and pranayama techniques can help runners achieve this controlled state of breathing. Controlled breathing helps to still the 'monkey mind' (that endless chatter in your head) and transcend into an almost meditative state. This certainly helped me during my final three miles of Bath Half when the negative thoughts started to creep in. By using positive, uplifting mantras I was able to push out those negative thoughts, keep one foot moving in front of the other and finish the race. Simple mantras which can be repeated to match the rhythm of your footfall such as 'I can do this' and 'I am strong' are always good to use.
I always warm up my body with yoga before a run and afterwards I cool down with simple sun salutations. I often use variations but low lunge, high lunge, runners lunge and pigeon pose are always great asanas to put into the mix.
The latest edition of Om Yoga is out now and is available to purchase and download straight to your tablet or phone just click on the link on the right.
Don't forget you can win weekend passes to the OM Yoga Show in Manchester here!