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!
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.
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.
A 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?