Jane arrived at her first yoga class feeling fit and ready for anything. Just 10 minutes into the Ashtanga-style yoga class, the keen runner and mum-of-two realised that while she might be fit and fairly lean, she wasn’t flexible. Not in the least. In fact, the 70-year-old yogi to her right was able to reach and hold yoga poses to a far greater extent than Jane, and she was surprised to see the amazing suppleness of the rather large lady to her left.
By the end of the 90 minute class, Jane was in no doubt that she needed to attend a yoga session at least once a week, if not twice.
She says: “I realised just how stiff my joints and muscles are during the yoga class. I could hardly even touch my toes at the class start but by the end I was able to wrap the tips of my fingers under my toes. So this was amazing progress.
“I had heard that runners have tight muscles, especially in their legs but I really didn’t realise how tight my muscles are.
“I know that it’s of benefit to runners to have nicely stretched muscles and some flexibility, especially if we want to avoid injury, so I decided there and then that I’d pursue the yoga thing.”
That was three years ago. Jane still attends a regular Ashtanga-style class and has definitely reaped the benefits.
She says: “I feel so much more balanced in my running style and stronger, too. I have much stronger core muscles and I rarely get injured from my running. I am now in my early 40s so I would be expecting to pick up regular niggles but the yoga seems to perfectly balance the running.”
The benefits of yoga for runners
- The range and number of yoga postures can help to correct muscle imbalances that result from high-impact training. Yoga can help to align the joints, improve bone density, stretch and stabilise the body to prevent pain and injury, particularly in injury-prone areas such as hips, hamstrings, Achilles tendon and the iliotibial band (IT band).
- Standing yoga postures correctly align the knee, strengthen the arches of the feet to provide better shock absorbers and maintain healthy connective tissue in the foot and shin.
- Standing yoga postures also improve balance, pelvic stability and leg strength.
- Dynamic and flowing yoga sequences develop a sense of rhythm between breath and movement. These sequences can also improve stamina and coordination.
- Yoga breath work and concentration exercises can improve body awareness and confidence – and lead to a more positive attitude to your running pursuits.
Why not book up a few yoga sessions at your gym or local yoga centre in the coming months and see if you reap the same benefits?