6 Running Tips for Yogis

Running in the morning

Call­ing all yogis seek­ing to round-out their prac­tice. The yoga-run­ning com­bi­na­tion is a pop­u­lar one; that’s why you often see tips for run­ners on how to incor­po­rate yoga stretch­es into their run­ning routines.

But what about run­ning tips for yogis? You might feel con­fi­dent with­in the four walls of your yoga stu­dio, but if run­ning is brand new ter­ri­to­ry, it could be a lit­tle intim­i­dat­ing. There’s no doubt that run­ning is dis­tinct­ly dif­fer­ent from yoga—but you might be sur­prised that a few of the skills you’ve picked up in your yoga prac­tice will help you in your run­ning. Here’s what you need to know.

 Breathe In, Breathe Out

If you’ve spent some time in a yoga stu­dio, chances are pret­ty good that you know how impor­tant your breath is in your practice—and out of your prac­tice, too. Breath­ing is just as impor­tant as run­ning. The deep, cleans­ing breaths you’ve learned about in yoga will trans­late beau­ti­ful­ly into run­ning. When you start to get wind­ed, your instinct might be to take short and shal­low breaths. If this hap­pens, recall your yoga breath­ing techniques.

Try tak­ing each breath to the top, then ful­ly emp­ty­ing your lungs. Just as in yoga, feel your body expand with each breath. Estab­lish the same rhythms you’re used to, like match­ing the length of your inhales to the length of your exhales. Prop­er breath­ing will pre­vent cramp­ing up mid-run—it’s a good thing!

Good Running Posture

Pos­ture and Align­ment Cues

Yogis are well-tuned into their bod­ies; they know that sub­tle cue adjust­ments can make a sig­nif­i­cant impact. Just as main­tain­ing strong pos­ture in your prac­tice is para­mount, it’s equal­ly impor­tant in running.

Prop­er pos­ture in run­ning trans­lates into more effi­cient ener­gy use and bet­ter injury pre­ven­tion. Keep your shoul­ders aligned over your hips, with a long spine and a lift­ed heart. Try not to lead with your arms. If you find your­self lean­ing for­ward or swing­ing your arms in front of you so that they cross over your body, try this tip: focus on bring­ing your elbows back behind you instead of reach­ing your arms for­ward. When one leg is extend­ed for­ward, the same elbow should be ener­get­i­cal­ly pulled back.

 Mind­ful Meditation

One of the great­est chal­lenges with run­ning is keep­ing your mind in check. Men­tal strug­gles are usu­al­ly more fre­quent than phys­i­cal ones: it’s often said that your mind will give up before your body does.

The solu­tion? Invite med­i­ta­tion tech­niques! The rhythm of your feet hit­ting the ground com­bined with your breath­ing pat­terns cre­ates the per­fect place of med­i­ta­tion. Just as in a yoga prac­tice, clear your mind, let your thoughts float out, and just be. Not only will time pass faster, but you’ll silence the nag­ging in your mind—plus, you’ll end the run feel­ing the kind of refreshed that only a sol­id med­i­ta­tion came pro­vide. Note—you’ll still need to be aware of your sur­round­ings, so med­i­tate with awareness!

Endure the Burn

Have you ever held a burn­ing War­rior Two, shak­ing and trem­bling and want­i­ng to come out of the pose, yet work­ing through it—persevering?

The endurance aspect of your yoga prac­tice will have ben­e­fi­cial spillover effects. You’ve learned to tolerate—or even crave—a bit of a burn, so you’ll you know that push­ing through tough phys­i­cal chal­lenges will even­tu­al­ly pro­vide long-term satisfaction.

When your legs are burn­ing and your mind is telling you to stop, engage your yogi mind: hold that run a lit­tle bit longer, sweat through the dis­com­fort, and watch change mate­ri­al­ize before your eyes.

 Switch Up the Style

You might favor a cer­tain type of yoga, but you can appre­ci­ate that prac­tic­ing dif­fer­ent styles will help make you a well-round­ed yogi—a restora­tive class is just as impor­tant as a hot prac­tice, just as a yin class can bal­ance out a pow­er­ful flow class.

The same idea applies to run­ning: you could run the same route and same dis­tance day after day, but you’ll become a more dynam­ic run­ner if you mix it up. Long, slow runs; quick sprints around the block; hill runs; drills—incorporate a lit­tle bit of all of these into your run­ning routine.

Balancing stonesA Bal­anc­ing Act

Some peo­ple say that run­ning can be counter-pro­duc­tive for a yogi: you’ll be tight­en­ing your­self in places you’ve worked so hard to open. But run­ning can com­pli­ment your prac­tice: tak­ing you from indoors to out, pro­vid­ing a dif­fer­ent kind of phys­i­cal exer­cise, and allow­ing you to tack­le new goals and challenges.

Adding run­ning into your rou­tine cer­tain­ly doesn’t mean elim­i­nat­ing yoga—in fact, you may find your­self expe­ri­enc­ing famil­iar pos­es in a whole new way. Run­ning and yoga can absolute­ly co-exist harmoniously—so why not give it a try?