Yoga is a GREAT cross training option for running. Yet, somehow, over 70% of those committed to running don’t practice yoga at all. I wrote a previous post on five key benefits of yoga for running – it’s here. This post dives more into HOW to incorporate yoga into your schedule, and reap the benefits for running.
Admittedly, it’s hard to “do it all” when it comes to running. Foam rolling, stretching, strength training, cross training, core work, mobility exercises, the right warm up, cool down, etc. We sometimes struggle to just get our run in, let alone any other supplemental work, like yoga, over the course of the week.
But, here’s the good news. Yoga strengthens. Yoga is stretching. It is mobility work. Yoga is cross training and it’s a cool down. Meaning, yoga benefits a lot of different areas for you, the runner.
If you’re new to yoga, or combining yoga with running, you may have some questions. Let’s tackle them!
How OFTEN should I do YOGA to benefit my running?
As with most things, it’s best to start out slow, and build up time and intensity. With that said, one-two yoga sessions a week is a great start.
Also keep in mind that you don’t need to do a long yoga session to reap the benefits as a runner. A session of 20-30 minutes can be just the ticket!
And, with so many apps (ie: Peloton), you can do a quick yoga routine when you can sneak it in your schedule. For example: yoga as a warm down right after a run. That’s what I did after a run at the beach a few weeks ago, and it was HEAVEN.
What TYPE of yoga is best for running?
The classic answer, it depends. But seriously, you need to consider your running schedule, and where you are in your training calendar.
A demanding yoga session on a heavy run day (ie: long run, track workout) is not the best combination. Rather, better to go perform restorative yoga (gentle yoga), Hatha yoga, or an easier paced flow yoga class if you’ve had a really demanding run.
On easy or rest (running) days, you can consider a more challenging yoga routine. Here are some options (with links to give a better idea of how they differ): Power yoga, Vinyasa (Flow) yoga, Bikram yoga, Ashtanga yoga, or Hot yoga. These types of yoga allow you to combine strength training with stretching, and mobility work. But, at varying degrees, depending on the type of yoga chosen. (Note that with Bikram and Ashtanga, the same poses are done each time.)
Be in tune with how you’re feeling as well. If fatigued, a more restorative yoga sequence may be in order. Have more energy? Then a more flowing, fast-paced or rigorous set of yoga poses may feel more satisfying. Lastly, many prefer an energizing yoga practice in the morning, and a calming restorative practice in the evening.
As a runner, what’s the best way to START yoga?
As said above, best to ease into yoga, and build your time, effort and number of sessions in a week.
Initially, it is wise to practice yoga on your rest or easy run days. I also recommend trying different types, to see which ones you enjoy, and benefit you most. But, keep in mind with the wide variety of yoga, there will likely be several types that benefit you. It’s a matter of choosing what is best for you on that given day.
Patience is key! Many runners are quite competitive. And many, not all, runners are quite inflexible, or have less range of motion because they run! Combine those two aspects, and you might be inclined to do too much, too soon – and injure yourself.
Personally, I have very tight hips and my flexibility is nothing to brag about. It’s tempting for me to push too much in a pose. Or, let frustration creep in when I see the instructor light years ahead of me. Don’t fall into that trap. Many yoga poses require a high degree of flexibility. Plus, they can take years to master.
Therefore, enjoy the process, and understand that progress with yoga (as with running) takes time. Focus on doing what you can within the pose now. Most poses have modifications that allow you to still reap benefits as you progress within the pose.
Rodney Yee, one of the most recognized yoga teachers in the world gives the following advice: “As you practice your first poses on your own, try to cultivate an attitude of playfulness and acceptance. If you approach your practice with a sense of curiosity, rather than self-judgment or competitiveness, you will find it easier to motivate yourself to practice — and you’ll be more present when you do practice.”
WHAT do I need to practice yoga?
Fortunately, not a lot! You do need a little space. A quiet, uncluttered area in your home that allows you to move freely. I practice in our bedroom. It’s quiet, and more easily allows for early morning, or before bed routines.
In terms of stuff: a mat, two blocks, a blanket and a strap. You can substitute a leash/belt for a strap, and some books for blocks. Lastly, comfortable clothing is best – whether loose fitting, or leggings, etc. Meaning, you can use your running attire, or other comfy clothes to practice yoga.
What is BETTER, an app or an in-person class?
There are some silver linings of the COVID 19 pandemic. We’ve learned we can get in a pretty decent workout at home. We’ve learned we don’t need to be IN a class to sweat. And, we’ve discovered there’s many apps we can access to improve our fitness at home.
I personally use the Peloton app, and love it. Of course, there are many other apps that have yoga in their mix (or as their focus). Here are some links to the five top rated in 2020 (according to Oprah Magazine): 1) Yoga for Beginners, 2) Down Dog, 3) Glo, 4) Pocket Yoga, and 5) Asana Rebel.
Some of the apps are free. Others do charge, but often provide a limited time “free” trial. Regardless, the prices are quite reasonable, especially considering the average price of an in-person class ranges between $10-20.
Live, in-person yoga classes are special in their own right, however. It’s likely that a blend of in-person, and at home will give you the most freedom and benefit. Lastly, this article provides more in-depth detail on the pros/cons, and even a quiz to see what’s best for you.
However, there’s one important component to consider for in-person yoga classes. Most are 60 minutes (or more) in length, and on a set schedule. You need adequate time to participate, and get to/from the class.
What questions remain?
Hopefully, I have answered your most burning questions about yoga and running? If not, comment on what questions remain! I hope you have found some information and inspiration to become a runner that regularly practices yoga. You won’t regret it!