Yoga For Runners

Ok ya’ll.  I’m so excited about today’s post.  My sweet friend Maribel is popping in for a visit to talk about yoga for runner’s.  I started doing yoga about 3 years ago at our gym.  I was really intimidated…or as Maribel calls it, I was yogaphobic.  Like, really.  I had a lot of hesitations because I didn’t know much about it.  I always just thought of it as meditative, breathing loud, crazy stretching, non-“active”, weird.  Just being honest.  So, I had a good friend at the time who did yoga almost every day and she convinced me to go.  It’s nothing like what I had thought.  Can I just tell you that it changed me as a runner.  I’m not even kidding.

I haven’t been as faithful in attending a regular class since we recently switched gyms and since I’ve been upping my mileage and I can tell a huge difference in the way my body feels.  However, I have learned so many poses that even when I miss a few classes, I still have things that I know I can implement at home or before/after my runs.  Even Lila (2) can down dog like a champ.  It makes such a huge difference in how I feel.  So, with all that being said….take a minute to read what Maribel has to say.  I’m so proud of her.  She’s a busy momma of 2 girls and just received her yoga certification.  She’s such an inspiration to me as I pursue my own goals at this somewhat crazy stage of life.  If you are local, check out her classes!!!  So, welcome Maribel!!

Yoga for Runners….Why Strike a Pose?
I know your time crunched and maybe even intimidated about being the only person who can’t touch their toes, but I truly believe Yoga is for Every Body!  
Studies have shown that yoga crushes stress, eases pain and even improves running times. The strength and flexibility you develop on the mat–namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors–can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free.
The mental approach is also similar in that much of running is in the mind….It’s the same with yoga. When a runner is presented with a hardship during a run (perhaps a cramp or fatigue), they calmly deal with it, alter their breath, gait or pace. Likewise, in a challenging pose, a yogi goes inside, monitoring breath, releasing unnecessary muscular energy, and surrendering to the situation.
Yoga isn’t about being able to scratch your ear with your big toe. It’s about understanding how your body works, how certain muscles work against others, and how to engage and release muscles with control.
Try this at home…. 
After a long run…try “legs up the wall” pose.  You literally rest your weary legs up the wall while you recover and breathe.  Lift and release the base of your skull away from the back of your neck and soften your throat. Open your shoulder blades away from the spine and release your hands and arms out to your sides, palms up.  Stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes.  Be sure not to twist off the support when coming out. Slide down to one side, lower your pelvis to the floor. Stay on your side for a few breaths, and slowly come up to sitting with an exhalation.

Here is my Runner’s guide to find a suitable Yoga class for you:
Purpose:    Strength and Stamina
·       Try Vinyasa Flow or Baptiste – This style of yoga flows from one posture to another in an intelligent sequence.   Runner’s think of this as your “speed workout” where the intensity is higher and movements are fluid.  It’s a great cross training workout for everyday runners. 
Purpose:     Recovery, Restoration
·       Try Restorative Yoga or Yin – This style of yoga is geared more for improving flexibility and facilitating recovery.  A minimal amount of time is spent on your feet and knees.  Runner’s think of this as your “easy run” of yoga where your demands are less.  The relaxed, low intensity level of restorative yoga or Yin provides a great class for improving flexibility, without the demands of a workout, while also improving mindfulness and focus.
Here are a few more tips:
·       Start slow – If you are new to yoga, take your time getting acquainted with the poses.  Yoga has been practiced for many… many… many years.  Don’t think that just because you’re athletic, you will be able to do it all in the first session.
·       Yoga is not a competition – Focus on yourself, not what the person on the mat next to you can do. So many runners are hard on themselves when they have an off day or they don’t PR.  In yoga, you are encouraged to accept the body and mind that you have on that day and push it as far as it will go.
·       Don’t be afraid to modify or ask for modifications – Find a place with teachers you connect with and understand your needs as a runner.  Don’t be embarrassed or worried that the teacher will be upset. They won’t…it’s your time and your practice.
Still Yogaphobic?
No worries….I will be teaching a Yoga Foundations class on Aug 9th @ 9:30am in Craig Ranch Community Center.  Learn the basics of breath, postures and awareness thru a Vinyasa (Flow) practice.  We’ll focus on the fundamentals of yoga alignment and breathing while moving through a series of postures.  Bring your yoga mat and water bottle! 
E-mail me for details at maribeltobrien@gmail.com.  Mention Kelly’s blog and you can attend the class for FREE.  
Happy Trails…  J
Maribel O’Brien, RYT200

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