Yoga is one of the best techniques for balancing your mind, regenerating inner strength and mental recovery. It has been practiced for many years and it is closely connected to fitness and healthy life. Now, let’s see some of the things yoga can improve.
Yoga provides us with the perfect opportunity to “clean mental house”. Dynamic flow sequences demand our full mental presence to carefully attend to the way our bodies are moving in space. This true awareness of how we are working on the yoga mat can translate into an enhanced ability to tune in to our pace, our form, and the inevitable twinges and niggles that come up as we run. And as we slow down and bliss out in yoga’s deeper restorative postures, we can begin to relax our attention on our physical bodies, and watch where our minds may wander. Here we work to manage the inevitable mental chatter that can “undermine the expression of our best self within.” This is the self that we want to run – and live – with every day.
In yoga we use the breath to harness the mind to the body. We learn to coordinate the breath with physical movements, and to focus our breath in the parts of the body that need attention. Runners can translate these lessons to the roads and trails, using a new-found awareness of their breathing patterns to run with maximal efficiency and to fuel peak performance.
A routine practice of yoga postures can help us strengthen our big performance muscles, as well as the smaller stabilizers and the core. As a bonus, we may begin to uncover and correct imbalances in our musculature – a key in injury prevention.
When we are runners, we don’t need to be Gumby too. While a fluid and full range of motion in our running stride demands some flexibility, we actually benefit from a certain amount of stiffness in the hips and core. This core and hip stability prevents us from “sinking into the ground” with each step, and helps to “take the energetic rebound from the ground and roll it into forward motion” (see Sage Rountree, The Runner’s Guide to Yoga).
Tuning in and finding balance
A regular and attentive yoga practice teaches us to carefully tune in to our bodies and what they need in the moment. We begin to know intuitively when we can push harder and when to reign it in, finding our own optimal balance between training and recovery, work and rest. The ability to take a few days off is sometimes harder for a runner than to put in the miles, but it is vitally important for prevention of burnout, illness and injury related to over-training.