Yoga for runners requires little prior experience or 1-1 training to get started. Commonsense and intuitive respect for your body are what I consider as more significant.
Intuitive respect? I view this as responding to the feedback loops of your body. For example, as you go into a stretch and become restricted by tightness within the muscle you pause, avoid further pushing into the stretch and thus avoid causing an increase in discomfort. Of course, a return or increase in the stretch can resume following the same protocol. Simple.
Yogis will proclaim the true meaning of Yoga is far more than stretching and relaxing. Sure, I’m very aware of this and write this blog to further demonstrate that much of the Yogic themes of breath control and mindfulness are actually part of regular running (although such themes are not given the same status).
Over the last few weeks I’ve managed to restart the habit of regular short runs. I’ve since notice an increase in tightness within my body which becomes quite apparent when I begin my yoga practice. However, yesterday after completing my running session I followed an intuitive sequence of stretches with all the elements of a Yoga Routine – minus a yoga mat, philosophy & sanskrit.
- Lay on the floor – almost naturally slows the breathing
- Begin with relaxing into each stretch of all large muscles of the legs
- Progress towards the gluteals (buttock muscles) and lower back upwards
- Lay on your back – pigeon pose, alternate knees to chest etc etc
Now throughout this, I recommend ‘checking in’ with the areas of your body. Imagine travelling through the entire body from head to toe. This isn’t airy fairy, it’s a good way of noticing how your body feels with each move/stretch and can help you identify weak areas or those susceptible to injury. Ironically this type of mindfulness is easy to practice when running on your own. For me, even as a non serious runner, it starts with noticing running gait and impact through the ankle, then calves and knees. I continue with a ritual of taming the wild horse of my breathing into a steady rhythm. Thus better breathing requires an upright posture so I adjust my position from the waist up. I’d call the whole process a form of mindfulness and breath control.
As I mentioned earlier, the stretches shown are my favorites and in my experience beneficial for non runners too. In fact, many a desk worker might discover improved mobility! As always those with medical issues seek advice first and those unsure should progress slowly. Everyone can proceed intuitively with a deep breath, common sense and respect for their amazing human body.