Yoga for Runners

This is my latest article for the Stanly News and Press:

My friend and amazing runner, Mariel

I admittedly only run if I’m being chased by a dog, but I admire those competitive, focused people who run for fitness and health.  This weekend I attended my first half and full marathon.  I was there as a cheerleader for friends, not as a competitor, but I had a blast!  It was so inspiring to see people of all ages, shapes and sizes achieving a goal they have trained so long and hard for.

The human body is amazing and I love to see how the running community has grown to offer something for everyone.  Running is a great outlet for those who are driven to be competitive with others and themselves while strengthening the body on the inside and out.

I believe that Yoga stands on its own as a beautiful way to care for body and spirit, but it is also very beneficial for runners and athletes of all kinds.  Because the postures in Yoga open, stretch and strengthen every part of the body in almost every possible way, they are great counters to any repetitive activity as a way to avoid injury and offset overuse.

A Yoga practice is also valuable to runners and athletes because it allows them a space to focus solely on how they feel and honor and care for their body without any focus on achievement, goals or competition.  This can help the individual become more patient with their body during training or recovery as they begin to understand the benefits of listening to the body, rather than pushing it to its limits.

Mariel Wooten, a Boston qualifier who has completed nine marathons, says “Yoga makes me a better runner, pure and simple.  Without it, I lose flexibility and become more prone to injury. Without a doubt, yoga keeps my core strong and adds balance to my marathon training.”

As a Yoga teacher, I have seen my fair share of running injuries. A regular Yoga practice can keep the shoulders relaxed, the core stable, the hips open, the hamstrings and quadriceps flexible, the knees and ankles loose and the feet strong and stretched.  These things can help prevent hamstring pulls, sciatica, iliotibial band syndrome, “runner’s knee”, sprained ankles and plantar fasciitis.

For a healthier body, if you hit the pavement, the trails, the track or the treadmill, be sure to spend some quality time on the mat, as well.

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