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Yoga for Runners
On June 19, 2012 in
How Yoga Helps the Runner's Body
Ana Forrest once said, “I don't teach yoga to help people to transcend. I want people's spirits to reside in their body.” I’ve come to realize that’s how I, too, approach teaching my yoga class for runners class. We learn about our bodies and ourselves through our bodies. In many ways I have an easy task as a yoga teacher for runners, as good number of runners and athletes come to yoga for the physical benefits– to lengthen their hamstrings, stretch their calves, and strengthen their core. And indeed yoga as physical culture is a wonderful complement to running for better pace, form and injury prevention.
In a yoga asana class the arches of our feet and ankles are strengthened and become better shock absorbers by working barefoot. We correct uneven foot patterns through
(equally placed and weighted feet), while one-legged balancing poses align our feet, knees and pelvis while strengthening the inner quads. Our hamstrings and calves lengthen with each downward dog. Standing warrior postures are great for hip stability while they strengthen the gluteal muscles to prevent unwanted pelvic movements that can lead to pain in the low back or IT band. And, of course, seated poses, twists and restorative postures performed with deep healing breathing help undo muscular tension. They also help us regain range of motion that we lose through the repetitive and imbalanced muscle action that we develop from clocking up the miles.
Beyond the Body
Yoga for runners offers more than just practicing postures. Yoga asana practice teaches us a deep physical awareness and provides us with knowledge about how our body works like a machine. And if we know how something works we are better able to look after it, and know how to fix it when something goes wrong. Yoga’s emphasis on staying in the present moment also helps with running-- long distances in particular. Looking ahead to the marathon finish at mile 3 can lead to starting too fast and burning out. Looking back at how far you’ve come at mile eighteen can be draining.
Be where you are – it’s where you are meant to be or you wouldn’t be there.
Yoga can also help us get past disappointments in a goal-oriented culture and learn to appreciate the rewards of pure process. What’s the point of a sub 3:00 marathon time if you wrecked your knees forever to get there? The
teaches us that “the wise man lets go of results whether good or bad and focuses on action alone.” Yoga is skill in action! During a race, as yogi runners we can focus on doing our very best work rather than racing the clock only to be slowed by tension.
So to get back to my dad’s question: Yes, as Patanjali teaches us, “Yoga is the restraint of the fluctuations of the mind”, but that surely means the restraint of the useless, disruptive fluctuations that break our concentration on the present, and not silencing the cognitive abilities needed to listen and respond to reality and physiology. As yogis we learn to tell them apart. Through our practice we can develop strong and flexible bodies, good posture, and a clear, calm but attentive mind …and from there we can start to tune into the soothing, repetitive, rhythmic qualities of synchronized breath and movement, and enjoy the more peaceful, meditative aspects of running – whether there’s a medal at the end of it or not.
Marathon and Yoga Training Program
As a yoga teacher and marathon runner myself, I always incorporate yoga, pranayama breathing, and cross training into my schedule. I’ve now put together a marathon and half marathon training program that mixes running with some of Yogadownload’s practices for body conditioning, balance and preparing the mind – including some of the free 20 minute classes which are great for fitting in around your running. Please visit
for my program.
By Laura Denham-Jones
Laura Denham-Jones began practicing yoga in the mid-1980s and has been teaching for over 10 years. A keen marathon runner and triathlete, she teaches specialized Yoga for Runners and sports classes in London, UK. Laura has also written for several yoga and fitness magazines, and contributed to the books, Real Women Run and Triathlon Made Easy. Please visit
Start practicing with these classes:
Yoga for Runners
– Dawnelle Arthur
Yoga for Back Pain #2
– Jackie Casal Mahrou
Hip Opening Flow
– Lisa Richards
Stay tuned for Yoga for Runners #2!
Combining Yoga & Different Styles of Music to Create a Flow State
When we are considering different things to pair together, it is always a subjective matter. For instance, there might be people who love salted chocolate, while others want salt nowhere near their chocolate! The same can be said about adding music to your yoga practice. Some people love vibration support and melodic inspirations when they are flowing from one pose to another and find it improves their practice. Others revel in the silent internal waves of just their breath and prefer yoga without any music. There’s no right or wrong answer here, it’s simply a matter of preference. Regardless, music has become increasingly popular to complement a yoga practice and seems here to stay for those who like this combination. Because of this, there are people who are always looking for new excellent music choices for their yoga sessions. If you’ve been moved by music during a yoga class, you can appreciate the beauty of this combination. Music can add another layer to a deep, rigorous flow and can support you in the challenging moments of a class, or keep your mind from wandering. Many have opened to new music artists and styles of music from tracks they discovered that moved them during yoga. What Is Yoga?
3 Common Myths about Ganja Yoga
Cannabis-enhanced yoga is a thing. Whether popping up in classes across the country, being mentioned alongside other forms of athleticism in articles about CBD-fuelled fitness, or made into fashion with weed-themed yoga leggings, the pairing of the ancient practice and healing plant has become quite the conversation topic in yoga studios across the country. Many people are enjoying the anti-inflammatory, relaxation, and creative benefits of cannabis on yoga. As the first moderner to offer public enhanced-yoga practice, I am so happy to see the marriage of humanity’s oldest methods for relaxation and spiritual insight gain momentum and increased acceptance. Ten years ago, when I started offering a yogic setting for people to get high and do yoga, I googled and found no other mention of the two, other than Chris Bennett’s insightful writing on the history of yoga and cannabis in ancient spiritual practice in India. We’ve come a long way baby! (five thousand years or more, to be exact...).
The YogaDownload.com Top 10: Your Fave Online Yoga Classes
We have thousands of classes, whether you’re looking for a specific teacher or anatomical focus or just want to see what’s out there. These are the classes you gravitate to the most – your top downloads this year. Try them all to see what your fellow YogaDownloaders are loving!
5 Reasons Online Yoga Classes Enrich Your Yoga Practice
Online classes are not always given the respect they deserve. While they have plenty of differences than in-person classes, they nonetheless offer room for growth. My first experience with yoga did not happen in a studio or group setting. It happened with a Power Yoga DVD that I picked up from the store. Eventually I started going to a studio, but practicing yoga by myself with a DVD was my first step. Since then, I have enjoyed the wide variety of online classes available to explore other yoga styles and teachers. In every yoga class, online or in person, you learn something new. It ranges from the external, such as a pose cued by the instructor, to the internal, such as building self-awareness. I have been practicing yoga for nine years, and continue to learn new things from every teacher and class I attend. Online platforms bring the teachers, classes and learning experiences to you- you just need to be ready for them. Here are 5 of the ways online classes enrich you’re your yoga practice (in ways in-person classes do not).
7 Qualities of the Best Yoga Teachers
While there are many ways to be a powerful yoga teacher, here are some common traits of the truly excellent yoga teachers. A teacher loses their power when they become self-absorbed and the solid teachers know this. As teachers we must get over our selves and show up to serve others. We must truly embody and practice yoga to teach yoga authentically. Here are 7 key traits of the best yoga teachers: 1. Presence To be a powerful yoga teacher, we must be focused and present while teaching. How can we inspire our students to show up to the moment if we are distracted? As teachers of yoga we must breathe for and with our students, we must set the rhythm, the energetic tone, and hold strong in presence. 2. Adaptability
Yoga for Crossfit: Why it Improves Performance & 3 Poses
Yoga is not only a good way to relax your mind and body, it is also being praised for improving Crossfit performance. Yoga creates more flexibility and creates more mobility, which are beneficial for the rigors of Crossfit as well as reducing the risk of injury. While the practices are different in many ways, Crossfit and yoga actually have a lot in common, so if you practice yoga, it’s can be easier to learn to practice Crossfit, and vice versa. Benefits of Yoga for Crossfit: Here are a few reasons why you should consider using yoga as a part of your crossfit training regime. Yoga has many gentle poses that develop your core which is an important part to Crossfit. Being capable of balancing and holding the body with the core is essential. When you regularly practice yoga, you promote strength, endurance, and flexibility and have a greater awareness of how to use your core effectively. You also find your inner strength which is important in Crossfit training. You practice cultivating calm, in challenging moments in yoga, and that can really help during Crossfit. Yoga can help us have more fun in Crossfit. Studies have found that yoga allows you to become more self-aware and improves your energy levels, helping you to enjoy life more fully. Sometimes in Crossfit, training and progress becomes such a focus point that we forget to be light and have fun. Yoga can help here.
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