Struggling to find your Zen? While a regular running routine undoubtedly helps stress levels—cardio boosts your mood, reduces blood pressure, and improves sleep quality—incorporating other workouts into your week can help provide an added boost. Yoga is one of many fitness activities that can up your running game, and here are some of the mental and physical benefits you’ll experience as a result.
Practicing yoga is a fantastic way to strengthen key muscle groups for running with minimal impact. If you’re training for a race, upping your mileage, or just beginning to make running a routine, incorporating strength training to complement your cardio is key to both progress and injury prevention. Yoga works not only superficial muscle groups, but also paraspinal muscles, which support overall lengthening and alleviate pressure from your back. Work your core in a Vinyasa, or try out our favorite Yogi move for killer quadriceps: runner’s pose!
Improving flexibility is another key to injury prevention. Some runners may think yoga isn’t for them because they aren’t flexible–but you don’t need natural flexibility to reap yoga’s health benefits. Push into a downward dog to stretch your calves, or fold into a forward bend to fire up your hamstrings. Try out a beginner’s class with an instructor that will help you position your body with proper technique. Many cities offer free outdoor classes in the summer, but you may have to bring your own mat (we like Jade Yoga Mats for an eco-conscious, no-slip option). Or check out this video from expert Cara Gilman to learn some fundamentals for practice at home.
Running is a high adrenaline, heart pumping exercise–not to mention that squeezing in a run before work, or the pressure of an upcoming race, may add unneeded stress to an otherwise pleasurable experience. Get better at focusing on why you run with the mind/body connection yoga facilitates. Body awareness–from learning yogic breathing, to being more attentive to form–can help you refocus to keep running a healthy, energizing part of your life.
Anima Sana In Corpore Sano
ASICS is an acronym for the Latin phrase above, meaning a sound mind in a sound body. Here at the Runkeeper office, we’re often found out on the roads or trails testing out new features, but we’ve embraced this motto and love mixing it up with weekly office Yoga and other group exercise classes. Our favorite teacher, Cara (mentioned above) introduced us to Jade Yoga. Their mats offer incredible grip and sustainability from natural rubber. You can find 3 different mats in the Runkeeper Store, with 2 different thicknesses depending on your cushioning and portability preferences. You can even find one that folds up the size of a block for easy carrying.