Since early December, I have been making it a routine to attend a lunchtime yoga class at my local gym. I’ve been incorporating yoga into my routine for a few years now but haven’t super been consistent about it since we did P90X. The main form of cross-training/strength training I did during Ironman training was yoga, mostly because it was convenient to pop in a P90X or P90X2 Yoga DVD and it also forced me to stretch for more than the 5 minutes (or sometimes zero) that I did post swim/bike/run.
I have absolutely loved this addition to my training. Since I tend to run hard both days over the weekend with my long run being on Sunday, Monday would normally be a rest day or a very easy cross training day to encourage recovery. The perfect part about the class I take at my local gym is that it is not advanced and is very stretch and meditation focused. It is perfect for post-long run recovery and I’ve found it’s an absolutely great way to start my week. I’ve never really used yoga for its meditative or stress relieving qualities but I’ve found myself getting quite zen during my weekly sessions. Something about laying or sitting in a quiet room filled with strangers? Who knows…
All runners can benefit from yoga. To get more specific, Runner’s World lists some awesome reasons to get your Ohm on (links below send you to a specific article on Runner’s World):
- Relieves tight hamstrings
- Can prevent/alleviate knee pain
- Helps you bounce back from a long run
- Speeds up recovery time
- Strengthens muscles and prevents injury
I definitely notice a difference in my flexibility from the beginning of the class to the end. Sometimes my leg muscles are so tight on Mondays that I can barely touch my toes at the beginning of the class. By the end, I can put them flat on the ground. I also like the upper body sculpting that I get from my yoga class. I always add a push-up after upward dog (before transitioning to downward dog) during the flow sequences.
Yoga also helps keep me mentally fresh and excited to train. Now that I am only running and not swimming or biking each week, it is nice to have a different activity to look forward to once a week. In fact, this past week I ended up at yoga twice because I enjoy it so much (and had extra time since I’m not running as much post half marathon). Now that I’ve added my weekly strength training circuit, I feel like I am a more well-rounded runner and I’ve set myself up for injury prevention and long term health.
Yoga is available in so many forms. You can join a yoga specific studio (this will tend to be more advanced but they have beginner friendly classes too), take a class at your local gym (likely to be on the easier side), buy a yoga DVD, or just do some yoga moves on your own at home. There are yoga DVDs specifically for runners or athletes out there too. Sometimes running stores put on free or donation based yoga classes as well.
Do you practice yoga? If so, for what reasons?