5 ways yoga can help improve your running

No longer reserved only for the mat, practise your yoga skills to ramp up your running routine and keep you injury-free.

From honing in on your breathing and alignment, to the correct stretching and focus, there are several yoga skills that will take you from flow to go during your cardio workout.

Here are five ways to harness the power of yoga to improve your running skills.

Stretch it out to both warm up and cool down

Start and finish on the mat. Mindful stretching before your workout will help prep the mind and warm up your muscles for their cardio journey ahead. Complete a few rounds of sun salutations, breathing deeply as you flow through the sequence.

Target the areas that you’ve worked out during your run. Downward dog will lengthen and open the hips, quads and calves as well as the arms and upper back.

Try forward fold for your hamstrings and calves, and reclining pigeon for a passive glute and hamstring stretch.

And we wouldn’t shy away from savasana (pose of total relaxation) at the end, either. You’ve earned it.

Mountain pose to improve your posture

Good posture is essential for good running form. Yoga sessions have strengthened your core, and given you the ability to keep your upper body in check throughout your run. As with mat work, the mountain pose is going to be your most important asana (posture) on the track.

It will keep you upright, focused and aligned. Check in on your posture when you can, especially when you’re beginning to feel fatigued or distracted, and ensure you’re in the efficient column-style pose.

Make sure your feet are aligned with your knees and hips, your chest broad and chin tucked. Relax and let your shoulders drop.

How yoga can improve your running

Connect with your breath

Yoga has equipped you with the ability to connect with your breath and to go further into your poses.

Adopting that approach in your running will help lengthen your stride. Apply the same method as you do on the mat: when it’s tough and you’re pushing yourself, hone in and regulate your breath.

If your breath is shallow and fast, it’s time to take your pace back a notch. This greater connection to your body helps you listen to the messages it’s sending you while on the go.

Anchor your focus to drown out distractions

Your drishti, or point of focus, doesn’t have to be a fixed point like it is in yoga. For running, your drishti can be used for objects on the run, then reset once you pass them.

Try looking forward towards a tree in the distance, and keep a gentle focus on it while you run. This will help stop other distractions and allow you to connect with your mind during your run, and in turn allow your body to flow naturally.

Visualise and then set your intention

Setting an intention before exercise is a way of adding purpose to the hard work ahead. Consider a question that has been on your mind, a stressful thought or a new challenge as the focus for your workout.

Similarly, repeating a mantra is a powerful way to help you remain in the present. Keep it simple to begin with – such as “lighter, faster, better” – repeating one word with each step throughout your run.


In search of… The Power of Yoga with Jo Stanley

Written by Jenna Meade

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