Follow your bliss

Posted on May 24, 2012

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My yoga fix is pretty much a daily occurrence now. Even if it gets to end of play and I’ve deadlines looming, I strive to get to class because I know how it makes me feel.  BLISS.

On which note, the lovely Noura from Yogalates Bliss sent me an article the other day on why yoga is so great for runners.  Much of this I know … much of this I’ve written about before and certainly, not a week goes by without me converting another runner to their own daily downward dogs and sun salutations but all the same, always worth repeating.  So without further ado … below a reminder of why running and yoga go together like a chilled Sav Blanc on a cool summers night.

  • Both involve using the mind, body and breath in unison to test, and often to surpass, the boundaries of what we think we can do. A long stay in Warrior 1 pose requires the same levels of endurance as an ultra race, hands down!
  • Yoga builds both mental and physical strength, especially in the core and hips, which helps with smooth, injury-free running. The core is especially important for trail running with its many uneven surfaces.
  • It improves flexibility, particularly in the hips and lower legs. Ever met a runner without super tight hips?  Me neither!
  • It helps your attitude, teaching equanimity whether things seem good or bad. The ability to both attach and to detach body and mind is a brilliant tool to master.
  • It sharpens your focus, increasing your ability to sustain effort even in the face of increasing intensity. This is especially beneficial for long distance runners.
  • When it comes to injuries, they tend to stem from imbalances. If a literal imbalance, as in the case of a physical fall, yoga’s balancing poses can help and if a muscular imbalance i.e. between the quads and the hamstrings, the hip flexors and the glutes or the legs and the core, yoga poses work to correct these imbalances so that the whole body functions optimally.
  • Yoga also helps us become very self-aware, able to tune in to our body’s needs so that we become efficient at striking the right balance between training and rest … and in doing so, avoid overtraining and burnout.

As for how much and when? You need to work with what you have in terms of time and other commitments.  I go to a class most days because I cottoned on to Tim Ferris’s 4- Hour Workweek formula long before he did! Others who still belong to the rat race might just be able to squeeze in five minutes before and after each run. And they too will still reap the benefits. Within a matter of days, you will feel the mental benefits and improvement in your breathing patterns … and within a matter of weeks you will feel the physical benefits too.

Over time, you’ll discover what type of postures you enjoy most and that suit you whether they be core-focused to specifically enhance your running, back bending to counteract too much leaning forward, restorative poses to aid in recovery or meditation, to work on the mind.

For those who have tried a class but found it frustrating or intimidating … you must remember that it is entirely your own practice.  Don’t even look at the person next to you … focus entirely on yourself and how you feel.

And if all else fails, remember my post a few weeks ago about yoga and its positive effect on anti-ageing? I for one, have been diligent with my daily head stands since and will continue to do so for the rest of my 20’s!

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