Running and yoga practise might seems like they are worlds apart but they actually make for the perfect partners. In this article we will look at the lesser known ways in which yoga can help your running flow flourish!
“Yoga is not about touching your toes. It’s about unlocking your ideas about what you want, where you think you can go, and what you will achieve when you get there.” ~ Cyndi Lee
The peak of training brings everything together – the body and the breath working together in a seamless flow. This process is essential for an effective cardio workout like running. A faster pace of yoga, with poses that are not held for too long, equals more cardio flow!
By practising one breath to one movement, it really helps to cement the idea about the breath moving the body (rather than the other way round). This connection to your breath and body gives you skills for staying present when things get tough, whether it's on the mat, on the road, or in your daily life. Staying present in the moment gives the runner the mental edge in a race. They can concentrate for the complete duration, staying calm, focused and positive.
Worrying about a poor start after its done or thinking about how far there is still to go to the finish line is pointless if you’re not there. The real challenge is to keep the mind on the present moment. Using the breath and having a goal which you’ve previously visualised helps to keep you on track.
Your first step for reaching that goal: seeing it in the mind’s eye. A study from the Cleveland Clinic, USA found that simply imagining contracting specific muscles – without actually doing it – every day for a period of weeks resulted in a significant increase in the strength of those muscles. Based on this alone, it is worth spending time visualising yourself achieving your goals.
Mantras (a word, phrase, sound or set of words) are used in the science of meditation. They are used in a precise and technical process that meditators follow in order to attain their goal. The goal is to give the mind an internal focus, or point of concentration, so that it does not continue its normal, scattered pattern of mental activity, ie. to quiet the mind.
The idea of using positive phrases can also be used in a less technical way to boost running performance. It can give you a positive focus throughout a race and not let the ‘monkey mind’ of negative or irrelevant thoughts take over.
You might think of a phrase which fits with your running rhythm and has some meaning to you. For example, you can repeat, “Light, smooth, easy” or “I am. I can. I will.”
“The very heart of yoga practice is abhyasa – steady effort in the direction you want to go.” ~ Sally Kempton