If you’re thinking about adding yoga to your workout regiment you may be asking yourself some questions. What do I need? How long should I spend doing yoga? Would it be better to do yoga before or after workout? Or should yoga be its own form of fitness, done on an entirely separate day?
What is Yoga?
Yoga is a mind and body practice. Combining physical movements and holds with mindfulness and breathing practices, yoga is an exercise where you engage your whole self in many ways.
The benefits of yoga include increased flexibility and inner peace. Breath control can be useful in many ways for athletes but can be particularly helpful for relaxation techniques. The meditation portions can aid you in visualization, such as walking yourself mentally through a race or other important event. Also, many people find meditation helps them to relax before bed.
What Do I Need to Get Started?
Truthfully, you need very little to get started practising yoga. With just a simple yoga mat, you are ready to roll. You may realize that a slightly higher quality yoga mat offers more cushion. You should also consider the size of the mat. Some taller people prefer a bit longer mat, and if your yoga mat will double as space where you can do core work, you may want a wider mat.
In addition to a mat, you may find a few other things to be helpful.
✓ A yoga block will help you in the beginning if you struggle with flexibility. As you bend and stretch, a block gives you a place to put your fingers for balance.
✓ Another tool to help you as you increase your flexibility is a yoga strap or belt. This is especially useful as you try to pull your toes toward your body.
✓ Most people do yoga barefoot, but some prefer yoga socks. They help keep you from slipping on the mat.
✓ If you are doing yoga post-workout in the privacy of your own home, you may wish to invest in a diffuser and have some music that will help encourage relaxation and mindfulness. While certainly not necessary or required, they will help you to set the tone.
Yoga For Runners Post Run
Yoga Journal recommends some specific poses for runners to try after their run or on a rest day. The authors caution that in the beginning, the moves will feel awkward and uncomfortable; but practice makes perfect! Yoga, like anything else, gets easier over time.
The moves recommended to do post-run include:
Downward Dog stretches hips, hamstrings and calves as it works to also strengthen quadriceps and ankles.
Upward Dog stretches back, neck, shoulders, chest and abdomen.
Low Lunge is excellent for tight quads, hamstrings, hips and groin, and will work on your entire, lower body range of motion.
Reclining Cow Face is used for a deeper lower body stretch, and will work hips, glutei, hamstrings and thighs.
Spinal Twist aids spinal and overall body mobility.
Reclining Pigeon also works quads and hamstrings, as well as forcing you to open up your hips and increase hip flexibility as well as range of motion.
If you aren’t sure what to do for post-run yoga, try some of these!
- For Runners – Cool Down Sequence YouTube Video! This is roughly 20 minutes.
- If you are looking to start with something shorter, try Yoga For Runners: Seven Minutes Post Run
Yoga Before Your Run
Most runners can point out some creaks and pains perceived to be running related. People who regularly practise yoga often point to it as something that helps them to avoid these problems. How can pre-run yoga help you? Yoga helps with balance, flexibility and will get you warmed up in a hurry.
Light yoga can help you feel stretched and ready to pound the pavement, believe it or not! We are not talking about a full thirty to a sixty-minute yoga class here, save that for a rest day. Rather, use yoga for 10 minutes or so as you prepare your body physically and mentally to run.
Practising yoga stretches and readies the muscles.
Try this Seven Minute Pre-Run Yoga Routine on YouTube!
Yoga As a Stand-Alone Workout
Although yoga can be used both before and after workouts, it can also be used as a stand-alone workout. Especially useful for a rest day or non-impact day, yoga is a great workout.
If you are looking to take a class in a yoga studio, look for something geared toward beginners when starting out. The last thing you want is to end up feeling frustrated or not wanting to return. Some yoga classes are extremely taxing on the body and you need to work your way up to that.
If you are looking to do yoga in your own home, there are some great videos out there.
- Full Body Flow: Yoga With Adriene (20-minute video)
- Yoga For Beginners (20-minute workout)
- Easy Yoga For Beginners: Gentle Body Flow (20-minute video)
As you get acclimated to yoga and are ready for it, you can consider experimenting with hot yoga or longer yoga classes.
Before? After? On Non-running Days?
If you’re wrapping up reading this article and you are still confused, that is to be expected because there are no simple answers. If you ask a practicing yogi, “Should I do yoga before or after my run?” They will answer, “YES!”
If you ask, “Should I do yoga on non-running days?” Guess what? The answer will again be yes.
The truth is, you can’t go wrong with yoga. It is a wonderful way to stretch, relax and become more aware of your body. Yoga will increase your flexibility and force you to work on your breathing. Yoga will make you mindful and make you relax in ways you didn’t think possible.
Try it before, after and on a rest day. You may find one works better for you than others. Or, you may just find you love all of the options!