Though in the past I’ve known some (not all) yoga teachers to frown at the idea of their students also being runners (shortened hamstrings, busy mind, overly goal-oriented) I’ve always found the two to be pretty complementary (for many of the same reasons!).
And I know I’m not alone. I see more and more runners from my club trying out yoga, and only this morning received a yoga for runners email from renowned running coach Greg Mcmillan. Setting up yoga classes specifically for runners has been a part of my plan from the start, but it’s good to know there’s seemingly a growing demand out there!
And why wouldn’t there be? When yoga supports your running ability by helping develop a strong upper body, lengthened and strengthened leg muscles, flexibility in the hips, a rock solid core, improved posture, a greater lung capacity and a stronger, more conscious and more resilient mind.
For me, running is what gets the blood pumping around my body, with the wind in my hair and the ground beneath my feet (I’m an outdoor runner, no gym bunny here!).
It puts me in touch with nature but at the same time connects me to myself. Allows me time to escape the world (see Introvert and proud) but also provides a social scene that I love. I solve many a problem, emotional and practical, out on a run and I feel cooped up and constrained when I’m not able to get out.
But yoga. Yoga is equally important. It calms my frantic mind and grounds me. It teaches me compassion, patience and persistence. It reminds me of the importance/relevance of what you put out into the world and (namaste) that there is the same light in all of us – something we would all do well to remember.
Both give me a lightness of mind. And yes, both keep me strong, and in shape. But, and here’s the crux, the consistent practice of both together gives me a strength, flexibility, fitness and lightness of mind that previously felt out of reach.
Yoga by itself didn’t provide the aerobic fitness and exposure to the fresh air that helps me feel alive. And running, by itself, left me regularly injured from sore, overtight and overworked muscles (even with an appropriate training schedule).
Yoga, without the running, can leave me overly dependent on myself. But running without the yoga, sees me hampered by a mind that repeatedly lets me down with negative self-talk and ‘you are not capable’ messages.
I never set out to do one for the other, rather it’s a happy coincidence that I have grown to enjoy them in equal measures (and that the results of one seem to enhance the results of the other). So I choose to do both. Because I love both.
If you feel so inclined I’d say give it a go. And if you’re already a runner and you’re not practicing yoga? I’d say you’re absolutely missing out!