I work with a lot of runners and people are consistently getting faster, for longer, with fewer injuries, following a basic training principle:
Move easy, everything you’ve got, in every direction you can.
Yoga is great cross-training for pretty much everything. By moving easily and exploring yourself, you get to know what you’ve got, and you can become very good at working with it. Naturally, people often ask, “What yoga poses are best for running?”
The short answer is that it’s less important what poses you do, and more important how you do whatever you do. Things like hamstring and hip openers are good. But as an athlete, you want a couple of things:
You want to be able to move easily.
You want a good balance between stability and mobility.
Pushing and stretching into yoga poses over time tends to make people hyper-mobile in vulnerable joints — including knees, hips and shoulders. That’s easy to avoid, simply by moving easily and not pushing into poses. This brings us back to the initial training principle: move easily, everything you’ve got, in every direction you can. The poses aren’t the goal. You’re the goal.
Stay relaxed and easy in your body. Rather than running headlong into challenges like tight hamstrings, move gently around them. Breathe deeply, and let your mind and body relax — in their own way, in their own time. When you find something that feels good to linger in, then linger! Again, no need to push into something tight.
You’ll gain much more by staying easy in your joints rather than locked stiff. Explore in every direction you can. Lean gently and breathe deeply wherever you feel like leaning and breathing.
Using your yoga to learn about your body and discover through your own movement how to work easily with what you’ve got, you’ll become much faster. You won’t be working against yourself, so you’ll also go for longer without tiring. Putting softness into your strength, injuries will be less frequent, and will heal more efficiently.
Has yoga helped you with running? What works for you?