Every runner knows this feeling: The longer you run at a rapid pace, the more you run out of air. Immediately your body gives you the payback: the stitches start. In the worst case we get frustrated and stop running. It is often forgotten that you can train the right breathing technique as well as the mental preparation. Yoga exercises are excellently suited for this kind of training. They entail a balance and strength training through which your running training will be even more effective. They help you to maintain your balance while strengthening your core and thus make your running training even more effective.
This is how yoga helps you on long-distance runs:
Cardiovascular training through breathing exercises
Special breathing exercises improve the oxygen supply of the body.
They train the diaphragm, enable a steady respiratory flow and prevent stitches.
The oxygen surplus increases the performance.
Stability through the strengthening of the leg muscles
With a focused training of individual muscle groups, the muscles tend to be less strained and you can prevent injuries.
Mental preparation through meditation
Every run is also a mental challenge: by focusing on the actual goal and blocking out all any distractions, nothing stands between you and a successful run.
You can achieve success with just a few easy exercises:
1. Downward-Facing Dog
This pose exercises every single part of your body. The exercise quickly shows which of your muscles are shortened. In the Downward-Facing Dog the upper and the lower thighs can be opened up easily and the feet as well as the hamstrings will be stretched. Starting on all fours, one places the hands and feet shoulder-width apart on the mat, fingertips facing to the front and spread. The legs are placed parallel to the hands hip wide behind the body. Now push the bottom up towards the sky. The elbows and knees are stretched while the heels are lowered to the floor. The Downward-Facing Dog is a regenerative pose, that improves the blood flow through the body, because the head is located under the heart. The pose supports the regeneration of stressed muscles and helps against fatigue and exhaustion after the running session - a true allrounder!
2. Revolved Triangle
In the Revolved Triangle position, you are stretching your hips, loins and leg muscles as well as your upper body and the spine. Simultaneously, this pose strengthens your abs, back, knees and ankles. Through this pose your loins will open up and the long ischium muscles will be strengthened. The stabilization and stretching of the ankles improves your balance. Therefore this pose is the right exercise for runners. Get into a really wide stand, forming a “T” with your arms and the right foot turned 90° to the outside. Now grab your right foot with your right arm and stretch your left arm towards the sky. As in the case with most yoga poses, repetitions are needed, so that the body can get used to the movement.
3. Bound Ankle Pose
The so called Bound Ankle Pose is an ideal stretching exercise for runners. It ensures flexible hips and opens up the loins and the inner thighs. This pose reduces tensions in the hip and loin area, whereas it strengthens your back muscles. On the first try the pose might still feel a little bit uncomfortable. Try not to overstretch at the beginning, but slowly approach your goal. With a little practice the muscles will get used to this pose and the physical stress. You will notice how wonderful this pose opens your body and mind and thus positively affects your run flow.
4. Child's Pose
The Child’s Pose is a soft, pleasant stretching and relaxing exercise. The pose helps with back and neck tensions and positively affects the blood circulation of the brain. The Child’s Pose provides flexible and smooth ankles, stretches the instep and the shin and thus prevents a case of shin splits. Furthermore it increases the flexibility of the knee joints and opens the hip and the thighs.
It is recommended to alternate between strengthening and breathing exercises.
The “alternating nostril breathing technique” consists of the following steps:
- Sit in an upright position and close the right nostril with your right thumb. Breathe through your left nostril.
- Now close the left nostril with the left thumb and hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Take your thumb from the right nostril, exhale and then calmly inhale again.
- Then, close the right nostril with your right thumb and hold your breath again...
- ...until you open the left nostril and continue with this alternating breathing technique.
The alternating breathing technique, also called “Anuloma Viloma”, helps to increase the lung capacity, to concentrate and is said to be an excellent cardiovascular training for runners.
If we were able to make yoga appealing to you through this, we recommend consulting a professional yoga teacher in order to guarantee a correct performance of the exercises.
More inspiration can be found on http://www.rachelyoga.com/tips-for-practice/. On her website Rachel Scott is giving instructions on how to do yoga exercises at home. More instructions can also be found here: http://www.jbrownyoga.com/. On this website you can also find a load of motivation for your training http://www.runnersloveyoga.com/new-blog/.
With this in mind: Namaste /
There’s great strength to be gained from tranquility!
image source: iStock