Runner’s World has a very nice article about how yoga can help runners. According to writer Deanna Michalopoulos, yoga can help you achieve a toned middle. Yoga helps with mindfulness, and mindfulness can make people control their eating better.
What does this mean for runners? Runners can benefit a lot from strong abdominal muscles. Firm, muscled abs go hand-in-hand with running strong, as it supports your torso, stabilizes your pelvis while you run, and gives you a better running form. It also prevents injuries.
On the other hand, runners with weak, flabby abs are more prone to have lower back problems and tend to tire easily.
Common abdominal exercises include crunches (best with an exercise ball), obliques, bicycle exercise, captain’s chair leg raises, vertical leg crunch, full vertical crunch, and yoga’s Plank pose.
According to the RW article, there are three ways that yoga can help runners:
Yoga helps you bear discomfort without reacting to it.
Runners experience this, especially in a long distance run. By being mindful, we know if the discomfort we are experiencing is normal and necessary—we need this to improve—or a sign that something is seriously wrong with our bodies. If it’s the former, yoga can also help us bear with it.
Yoga teaches you to de-stress—on the spot.
This can be done through correct breathing. With yoga as in running, breathing correctly is paramount. The best thing though, is that this will also help us in real life. Stressed over something? Take a deep breath. Afraid of losing your temper with a colleague? Take a deep breath!
Yoga coaches us to change.
Yes, yoga (and running) pushes us to change. When we first started to run, who knew we could finish a half-marathon well? Whoever expected us to finish a full marathon? Running (and yoga) gives us the confidence to push more, to do more.
So for those who are looking for a cross training exercise, why not try yoga? I am doing Bikram now, but I hear that Iyengar can benefit runners more. Hmm…for yoga practitioners out there, what do you think is better for us runners?