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yoga for runners

yoga for runners

Before I started Koala Clip, I dreamed of traveling the world teaching yoga. I became a certified yoga instructor in 2010 and taught yoga locally at studios before my kids were born. 

I have always used yoga to complement running.

During my first marathon, I was regularly practicing yoga 3 times a week, on top of running all the miles necessary to complete a marathon. I didn’t get injured once that training cycle. I find little niggles come up when I’ve let my yoga practice slide. During my training for my second and third marathons, I let yoga take a back burner. I prioritized speed workouts over my yoga. I went from taking 3 classes a week to doing a few in a month. Both of those marathons were not successful. I encountered problems that led me to have to take time off from training to being so serious that I didn’t even get to the starting line of one.

Since then, I have made sure to not let it fall to the wayside again. Now between the kids and running Koala Clip (and a pandemic), I fit yoga in my day through small increments. I no longer have time to hit 75 minute classes several times a week - but rather prefer to do 15 - 30 minute classes a few times a week. I fully believe a runner and athlete can gain the benefits of yoga through small consistent practices. Yoga is more than just stretching. It can build strength in your body, cultivate your mind, and really be great for warmups before a run or workout. 

If you have never done yoga, it can be hit or miss as an athlete. If you don't know what to expect, you may end up injuring yourself rather than benefiting your training.  Below I’m going to outline the main different styles of yoga.

There are common styles though taught pretty universally throughout the world. Here are some key terms to know:⁣⠀

* Vinyasa - this is the most popular form of yoga done today. Vinyasa refers to moving through sequences of poses or movements to breathe. These classes integrate movement with breathe. For example exhale move into down dog, inhale step forward, exhale release your hands to ground, inhale reach up to the sky. Some classes will move faster (one breathe, one movement), other classes will hold the poses longer. This type of class can be used as a dynamic warmup before a run or a great post-run workout and stretch session. ⁣⠀

* Power Vinyasa - is a more athletic version of vinyasa. This class is a workout. Great way to build strength but should not be jumped into my new yoga practitioners. Some of these classes are performed in a heated studio. Taking a heated class is a way to do some heat acclimation training if your race is in a hot climate and you live in a cooler less humid location. ⁣⠀

* Bikram or Hot - Bikram is a hot yoga that is performed in a studio heated to 95 - 100 degrees. It follows the same 26 poses and takes 90 minutes. This is not vinyasa though. Instead you go into a pose and hold it, then move on to the next pose and hold that. Hot yoga is basically the same thing as bikram but gets around a trademark issue. Be prepared to sweat and go only when you are in a recovery or low phase of training.⁣ For athletes, this type of class offers an intense stretch and you should be aware of your flexibility before attempting.

* Yin or Restorative - these classes are all about holding poses for long periods of time to let muscles relax and stretch. The classes are slow, use a lot of props and great if you are looking to unwind post-long run or have a deep stretch. ⁣⠀

So what kind is right for you? 

It depends on your goals. 

  • Are you going to yoga to stretch out after a run? Then a nice vinyasa class is probably the right call. 
  • Do you want to use yoga to increase core strength and balance? Try an advanced vinyasa or power vinyasa class.
  • Do you want a slow class that is relaxing? Then try Yin or restorative.
  • Or a more rigorous class that uses music and gets playful? Vinyasa is your thing then.
  • Do you want to sweat so much it’s dripping in your eyes? Bikram is your thing.


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