Today, where yoga is more popular we cannot help but notice its increasing and diversifying presence in sports, fitness and wellness centers, rehabilitation centers and many health institutions. Recently yoga therapy is used as an official method of treatment in health centers with the permission of the Ministry of Health.
Yoga is more and more present and in the regular training’s of top athletes in the world and in our country. It is especially used by marathoners and ultra-marathon runners, racing on the extreme distances, precisely because such discipline requires not only physical training but also mental and spiritual balance and persistence. According to foreign magazines and the top tennis player Novak Djokovic used the relaxation exercises of yoga and meditation to improve his sports performance.
Yoga and running are useful as combined sports. Properly performing yoga exercises enriches our running training’s by activating and stretching muscle groups that have been neglected. Other benefits of yoga are greater flexibility and strength, balance, deepened breathing, larger lung capacity, reduced blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improved VO2 at maximum, ensuring the prevention of injuries and numerous other benefits.
Moreover with the help of yoga we enrich our physical and psychological well being and manage to successfully harmonize with the environment in which we live.
Yoga balances the nerve system
Hatha yoga consists of carrying out certain body positions (asana), breathing technique (pranayama) and deep relaxation (yoga nidra). Yoga exercises engage the maximum number of muscle groups that drive internal and external body parts.
In yoga asana while keeping in that position we let the organism adapt and utilize all the benefits that this position offers. It also reduces stress hormones and balances the endocrine and nervous system.
Breathing techniques are helping us by running to achieve greater supply of oxygen and increasing the capacity of the lungs.
Deep relaxation aims to infuse greater dynamism to us as well as increased ability to harmonize with the environment and perform the collective life stream. The results achieved with running at the same time can be extraordinary.
If you are in a situation where your muscles are tense, you have limited freedom of moving, if you feel chronic pain, your body requires more energy for all activities, including running. With the help of deep relaxation we gather energy that we use later for the exercise or higher goals. If you are doing yoga properly after training you will always feel an abundance of energy and life dynamism.
Brain without thoughts
During running the runner very often enters the zone of meditation where the entire experience gets in relaxed state of peace in motion. Thoughts are calm emotions awaken and thus internal latent power is woken. The great challenge is to stay in this center, despite an increased physical activity. Running is then more calm proces and remains separated from the body. At this moment, we can use a maximum of vital energy and resources.
How running helps yoga?
Running offers stamina and strength primarily on the legs which is extremely useful for longer retention in the standing position. Increasing strength will gives us greater freedom of movement and fully enjoy our activities.
Movement cultivates cardiovascular strength, while yoga cultivates the ability to control the heartbeat mainly through breathing. Practice breath maintaining in difficult positions even more challenging where it is used in a run.
Yoga as prevention from injuries
Running and yoga are a very good combination of strength and flexibility. Runners very often can be quite tense leading to a reduction in the volume of movement of joints. As we age immobility causes many diseases such as arthritis, gout, back pain, pain in the knees, varicose veins, and more. Yoga preventing these disorders and provides longer lifetime.
Many runners fail to balance at the beginning of their racing training which subsequently leads to consequences – chronic pain and marginalized injuries. With time running takes a toll on the functioning tendon and connective tissue which can cause tightness in the chest, shoulders and upper part of the neck as well as weakness in the hips and legs.
Runners complain of back pain in the knees and foot pain. Pain that runners feel does not come from running more than the imbalance while running and can worsen. Damages of the body of runners are often the result of excessive stress or fall.
Yoga prevents damage of the knee and corrects the deformities of the spine and hips. It encourages conscious attention to balance, body position and alignment thereby improving training and establishing successful prevention of injuries. Hatha yoga perfectly coordinates the muscle control that are particularly suitable to practice running.
Through regular training we can strengthen all muscle groups that support and stabilize the skeletal system. These trainings enrich at bring freshness in racing training routine.
Stretching the hip flexor muscles allows greater scope to raise your knees and thereby increase speed. Flexion (bending in the front from the hips) easing tension in the lower back and at the same time strengthen the abdominal muscles, which are the source of power.
Yoga helps us to discover problems before they become established. Also, body aches can alert us to a problem that has not yet manifested itself and in this case we use yoga exercise as prevention.
Hatha yoga exercises and strengthens the legs and feet protecting joints, knees, hips and spine. Hatha yoga puts into work every muscle, joint, ligament, tendon, nerve, blood vessels and the entire skeletal system.
Intuition protects the body
If you do not have developed intuition we can easily overlook the signals of the body. Yoga helps to detect the problem before it got serious so we can react to the body and the messages it sends. We should not ignore the signals from our body because our body aches can alert you to a problem that had not yet manifested.
This is important especially in running because then the body produces a lot of endorphins. This chemical can mask the feeling of natural pain that occurs in the body due to injury or illness. Through the practice of yoga we learn that every day is different just like every movement. Our energy level is in daily fluctuations so it is important to have a sense of their reserve.
Include yoga positions in the warm-up and stretching after the workout!
Consistent and mild yoga practice can cure chronic injuries. Our body is always on our side. No matter how many steps we make it has the intelligence to stay and maintain balance. To prolong your career as a runner, yoga is a fantastic complementary sport. It is important to master yoga with an expert guidance of an experienced instructor in order to avoid the possibility of adopting the wrong techniques. As a runner you got to pay attention to these things.
Conclusion and my personal opinion
Running after yoga is truly fantastic experience where the body becomes much easier, more fluid, mind more calm and the satisfaction in the effort even more complete.
Although today yoga is used used mainly for stretching after running I sincerely recommend you to try it. You will be tired but the running will become much easier and you will have more energy.
Staying in the positions (asanas), a pleasant stretch with deep and rhythmic breathing can be just as fascinating as when while running the thoughts and mind calm down and we feel joy despite hardship and true inner contentment. Then it happens one moment where we overcome our own borders.
The feeling of freedom and true satisfaction awakens in us growing desire and need to act more deeply in harmony with nature, to increase the capacity of our own life, activities, capabilities and adaptability of various life situations, developing and fostering a motivation (through activities of running, as well as through active passivity in yoga) we are able to break free of all fears, prestige, desire to compete and still make maximum use of our own potential. In all this is a real art to establish the correct balance.
Some asana advices for runners
Pasarita Padottanasana – bending on the front with spread legs
Stand up straight with legs spread so that your feet are parallel while the finger slightly inclined inwards. Hands on hips, spine is in a straight position. Take a deep breath and with exhale bend at the same time tighten your stomach and put the body in a parallel position with the floor. Gently lower your palms on the floor, inhale and exhale with palms placed between the feet and start to bend the back and the head to the floor. This position stretchs the inner thigh muscles, hamstrings, muscles on the hips, ankles (foot and lower leg), Achilles tendon, facilitates blood circulation and relaxes the back and head.
Utthita Trikonasana – position of a spread triangle
Stand up straight and gaps 4-4.5 foot length. Open the chest and stretch your arms at shoulder height with palms facing down. Turn right foot in relation to the left at an angle of 90 degrees. Take care that the heels are in one line and hips outwards. Extend your legs at the knees, breathe deeply and exhale with the rest heavy laterally. Pull your upper body and place the right hand on your right shin, ankle or side of the face (as long as you can and fetch for it does not bend the knee). The left arm was stretched out so that the palm in line with the left shoulder view facing the palm of your hand while the spine and neck extended. This position strengthens the legs, knee joints, activates the foot and hip flexibility, expanding the chest to facilitate deeper and easier breathing while moving.
Virasana – position for stretching of the tights
Get on your knees so that your feet are hip-width apart. Straighten your spine, inhale, lift a bit and with easy exhale sit between your heels. If your position is too difficult set an object (block, thick book or folded blanket) between the heels. Straighten your back, relax your shoulders and place your hands on your knees with the palms facing down. If possible put your knees in position where they are touching, cam and feel how your tights stretch.