The beauty of yoga is that it can be combined with many other physical activities, such as running.
Yoga in combination with running can bring about a quick recovery, and improve mental strength and discipline when running, so yoga can be an amplifier.
The standalone practice can replicate the benefits of running, in terms of growing muscles and staying physically fit.
Many runners are advised to supplement their practice with yoga, especially restorative yoga.
But many don’t know about the hidden benefit that yoga can provide as yoga is often associated with a feminine practice that’s purely meant for relaxation, even though yoga is ideal for both men and women and can provide a balance between strength and recovery.
Runners would especially benefit from restorative yoga after a running session, but it can also be done after. It all depends on the runner’s goals since yoga in itself can be a great warm-up exercise.
Below I’ll outline some of the reasons why yoga and running work so well together, and if you’re an active runner, you’ll benefit from adding yoga to your plate.
Running in itself can be challenging, but so is yoga, regardless of what most portray yoga to be. Yoga has a calm side but it can have an intense side.
Yoga is more notorious for building mental strength and discipline, giving you an easier time continuing your run later down the line. Sure, running in itself when you don’t feel like it alone can be enough to train your discipline, but yoga is many times specifically built to train your discipline.
Running for the long haul can be a mental process and many will benefit from the extra boost in mental durability they get from yoga, since a major part of the yoga exercise is mental, whereas running is more of a physical thing, even if it also can do wonders for us mentally.
After all, the minor psychological aspect of running that keeps someone from sticking with running and stops can all be influenced by yoga by strengthening this discipline. That’s not to say that you have to use yoga to become a consistent runner, but it certainly helps by amplifying the habit.
Mental strength is crucial with running and pretty much everything else you do because you’ll have moments where you want to throw the towel, but discipline could be the difference between becoming a top runner or being a quitter.
Prevent Pain Beforehand
If you choose to do yoga before you run, it can be a great warm-up exercise and better prepare you for a long-running session.
Yoga is after all meant to increase your flexibility which always comes in handy when you go for a run. The warming up can also help runners in preventing possible injuries and staying on track longer, and by extension also mitigating possible pains caused by consistent running.
Yoga promotes our pain tolerance both on a physical and psychological level. Of course, you can always stop running and take a pause, but it helps to be equipped right from the start to get the most out of your running, and yoga helps you do just that.
While running, flexibility is important as it allows us to move more freely and reduces the risk of moving a certain way which risks causing any injury.
Even if the flexibility may provide a minor additional benefit to running, over the long haul it can help you become a better runner by having a wider range of movement and being better equipped for unexpected movements your body might do while you run.
You can take more risks with running, even if running in itself isn’t a risky activity, but the risk is prone to happen anyways if you put yourself out there where there’s a chance the risk could play against you.
The flexibility prepares you for that and because of the increased freedom of movement you might enjoy running more.
Keeping You Energized
Yoga can keep you more energized throughout the running session and keep your breathing in a pattern that helps you resist more from the challenges that might come up.
With a consistent, deliberate breathing pattern you might delay the depletion of energy you’ll get later down the line and it can help you stay on track longer, and you might feel like the scope of your limits with running get expanded because of it.
It’s almost like a secret trick that can put you ahead of other runners because your breathing could be the difference between running out of energy sooner or later.
There are certain yoga exercises and poses that help you keep your energy consistent as you run or do anything else that can be taxing to your energy.
This can also come in handy for your subsequent running sessions where you can borrow the energy that’s already built within, thanks to yoga, rather than relying on external substances to complete your running session.
It’s common to rely on caffeine or even energy drinks, but it’s ideal to rely on natural water and your own built-up energy that, in this case, you can build from yoga and become less dependent on external substances for you to complete a running session and more reliant on your own energy that amplifies the more you practice yoga.
Yoga may also help you keep your energy even after the running where you might’ve run out of this energy had you not done yoga.
Physical Strength and Running Faster
In the process, you can improve not only your mental endurance but your physical endurance as well, because certain yoga exercises can stimulate the growth of muscles, and yoga alone can be used as regular exercise.
Yoga can also make you run faster by strengthening your core, and there are other indirect factors that influence your running speed and quality that come from yoga.
Now, since yoga isn’t predominantly used to build muscles but can do so indirectly, the time of building muscle from yoga vs. physical strength training can differ, with strength training achieving this purpose faster.
But yoga can influence your running in ways you might’ve not thought were possible until you experience what it’s like to break that ceiling of limit that we put on ourselves. And needless to say, any runner can benefit from a boost in physical strength, mental endurance, and faster running.
Yoga borrows certain elements from mindfulness that can make you more focused on the running and thus, enjoy the running even more.
Once running becomes a habit, It’s easier for the running to become this autopilot thing and our minds can wander to different places when we are running.
There are some yogas by default that practice mindfulness and the more this mindfulness stays with you, even outside of yoga, and becomes part of your day-to-day, the easier it is to enjoy the process of running, rather than the running session passing by just like a mindless teeth-brushing session.
This is more of a bonus thing than anything else, but many omit it since many live their days on autopilot, and this mindfulness added to the equation can make the running more purposeful and by extension, more enjoyable. In that sense, yoga can help us.