The Cross Training Benefits of YogaCracking joints after a long run? So stiff it takes you a good 10 minutes to get out of bed? If you, like many runners, suffer from aches and pains due to the repeated impact from running it may be time to consider yoga to balance out your training.
Many runners consider yoga a mere pastime, believing it to be boring and far too slow to reap any significant benefits however combining yoga with running is a sure fire way to increase your flexibility and strength, leading to better running posture, breathing and stamina on your run.
People of all ages and backgrounds practice yoga for many different reasons. It is a discipline that requires physical as well as mental strength, so well-suited to endurance athletes like long distance runners who need to focus and train their minds to handle long distance races.
Yoga can be a great addition to heavy impact sports like running as it is low impact reducing the likelihood of injury and giving variety to your routine. However, this is not where the benefits of using yoga for cross training stop. As yoga is concerned with the body as a whole it is especially good for circulation maintaining strong blood supplies to all parts of your body. It also supports the alignment of your spine and core stability.
With a focus on strong stomach muscles, back and hips, the common ailments of runners such as 'runner's knee' 'shin splints' 'IT Band injuries' and muscles strains are much less likely to occur.
As well as such physical benefits as those mentioned above, yoga can bring harmony to a stressed out runner's world. Running at fast speeds, high impact with pounding tunes in your ears can lead to raised cortisone levels and tension in your body if not properly relaxed afterwards. Yoga has aspects of breath control and rhythm with focus on calming the pulse rate, reducing stress levels to regain control of your body and mind again. This can be an added plus to runners who in mid-run suffer from shortness of breath, stitches and many other breathing problems.
There are many different types of yoga ( to find out more about the different types see my other articles of yoga) so it is best to find out which one is more suited to you and your needs. For runners a low impact class like hatha for beginners is most suitable where basic moves like the 'downward facing dog', 'dog and cat', 'tree pose' and 'half shoulder stand' are incorporated.
So how will you incorporate yoga into your busy training routine? How about attending a class once a week in your local area? Or if you are unable to travel there are masses of DVD’s and books where you can teach yourself some of the basic moves and poses in the comfort of your living room. This can even become part of your post run recovery by adding 20 minutes of yoga to the end of your run.
The great thing about yoga is that it is cheap, easy to pick up and accessible. Anyone at any age can do it and the benefits are numerous! Have a go!
Gemma Carter who is a fully trained fitness and life coach. Visit her website at http://www.cartercoaching.co.uk