Runners: which yoga actually benefits you?

I wanted to write this blog after a runner said he and his running friends got more injuries when they did yoga! As a runner and a yoga teacher there was no way I was going to let that comment pass without clarification. So my reaction was ‘dude, you are doing the wrong yoga with the wrong teacher’.

‘dude, you are just doing the wrong yoga with the wrong teacher’.

So let’s get to the bottom of this. Runners, which yoga classes actually benefit you?!

There are many different reasons to go to yoga, and therefore so many different types of yoga. Some people go because they want to be good at yoga. They practice to get to the perfect looking, most challenging yoga poses under their belt. So they work on strength and deep flexibility so practice classes and postures that give them this, like gymnastics.

So this is where the problem lies. It is not necessary, or even beneficial for a runner to be able to do the splits or look awesome doing an advanced posture. A runner might want to, but this is not the yoga that we talk about when saying yoga can support and improve your running. A runners muscles and joints need some tension to help the rebound of every step, to keep the joints safely in tact, to offer power.

What is relevant is that the runner body is a strong, long spine, relaxed shoulders, strength but no restriction in the hips, all these things working together correctly as a chain to transfer energy and stress through the body, space in the ribs for deeper breaths, meditation and focus. Whilst a runner doesn’t want overly flexible joints or muscles, they will want stability and space for the joint to function properly. It’s a fine balancing act! And this is what a dynamic, core strength yoga class is absolutely fantastic at doing.

By creating body awareness through yoga a runner is also able to make changes to techniques more easily. The compression and release and challenging the length of muscles, and spaces in-between through dynamic yoga flows helps circulation, healing and thus injury prevention/ quicker recovery.

I could go into more detail here, but I’m saving that for the next article.

For now runners, be selective with what yoga classes you’re going to add to your training. Something like my Core Strength Vinyasa, Strength, Mobility + Flexibility or even HIIT+Yoga are great options for you. But there are plenty others out there more suitable. Pick something dynamic, pick something strength based, or if you’re in a regular class don’t focus on getting deep in postures focus on getting engagement, control and stability.

Of course if the aim of going to yoga isn’t to improve your running, but is to rest your overused muscles then I urge you to try Restorative Yoga. It is everything your body is craving. And will probably really challenge you in a different way.

Keep your eyes peeled for my next article on how different elements of yoga more specifically help your running.

Helena xx