One Runner’s Perspective on Yoga (With Pose and Video Recommendations)

I’ve vacillated over the years as to whether or not I enjoy yoga.  At times I have found it engaging and calming, at other times I have gotten easily bored and found myself impatient to get through a session.  But after years of toying with various kinds and commitments to yoga, I think I have finally discovered my happy-yoga zone.

Now, while I enjoy variety in my fitness – I strength train, I get excited about plyometrics, high intensity interval training is a good time, and so on – I am first and foremost a runner.  At this point in my life, I am confident in that last bit, which means that all of my other fitness endeavors need to work in support of and fit in around my running.

This is how I’ve found the right fit for yoga in my life.

photo credit: BrittneyBush via photopin cc

photo credit: BrittneyBush via photopin cc

Once I discovered a yoga practice that makes me a better runner, I was hooked.  Engaging in yoga sessions that stretch and strengthen the muscles I need to run feels healthy, relaxing, challenging, and worthwhile all at the same time. And, because I know I’m never going to be a super-yogi, but I am already an endurance athlete, I can connect this practice to part of a larger picture which keeps me present and motivated in my practice.

So, what’s important for me in a yoga practice, then?  Here is a run-down:

  1. It is just one component of a larger fitness calendar.  I don’t want to do yoga everyday.  I just don’t.  I generally have one yoga day a week and it is enough to stay on top of my abilities without taking up more time than I am able and willing to give it.
  2. Yoga that really focuses on strength, power, and movement keeps me much more engaged than slower, gentler forms of the activity.
  3. I am always more engaged when I am challenged.  Give me balancing poses (I love warrior three), along with various levels of progression that I can work towards, and I am a happy woman.
  4. Sessions that target muscle groups I use for running are what I’m really in to.  Building flexibility and strength in my hips and ankles, for instance, is really important to me so bring on the moves like pigeon, warrior two, and crescent.  I connect with purpose in these poses and feel their immediate, as well as long term, benefits.

While I do selected yoga poses and stretches sporadically throughout the week as I feel I need them, I have two at-home videos that I have really come to enjoy.  I generally do one of these on my rest day from running and higher intensity training.  They are:

  1. Bob Harper’s Yoga for the Warrior yoga for the warrior

I’ve written of my love for Bob Harper before.  And, I do love him.  People who think that at home videos can’t give you the kind of workout you get in a gym, clearly have not tried Bob’s Total Body Transformation,  Ultimate Cardio Body or Pure Burn Super Strength, among others.  Since discovering Yoga for the Warrior, I have been silently hoping Bob will release another yoga DVD because this one is so good.  It’s definitely yoga for people who want to focus on strength; it offers a variety of poses and movements, and still manages to bring the peace and calm that is synonymous with yoga.  I can’t recommend this one highly enough.  Really.

  1. Kimberly Fowler’s Yoga for Athletes

This one isn’t perfect, but it is very good.  The major thing that I find faulty with this video is the instructor’s vocal inflections and repetitive use of phrases like ‘If you can . . . “, but that’s just my personal issue.  When it comes to the actual practice, this routine really does deliver poses that target areas of the body known for giving athletes trouble.  Fowler will really help open up your hips, strengthen and tone your body, and dramatically increase range of motion.  It’s a good, solid practice.

yfa_dvd_largeI can attest that incorporating these yoga videos and other poses/movements into my weekly routine has helped me work through pesky niggles picked up during running, kept me sane on rest days when I wanted to do anything but rest, and increased my overall levels of strength, balance, and agility – all things I’ve been thankful for.

11 comments on “One Runner’s Perspective on Yoga (With Pose and Video Recommendations)

  1. I have committed to doing yoga daily. On some days I put it off until the end of the day. But once I’m into it I feel much better especially when it flows and there is little soreness.

  2. EcoGrrl says:

    Through the practice you do, I’m guessing you still experience the mental benefits and not just the physical, right? That ability spend an hour just for yourself (I’m guessing similar to giving yourself time to go for a run), where you’re forced to focus exclusively on what your body is doing through movement and the breath, brings some peace upstairs as well as downstairs right? As for me I am the opposite – I do it for the mental first, with the physical second (it’s like a 2-3X weekly therapy session). I agree, I can’t do it every single day, but that goes with my variety-filled life in general – and I love how I have several yoga teachers I like at my studio who always do something different each week! 🙂

    PS – ooh, warrior 3 is so humbling isn’t it!! 🙂 I’m a triangle lover myself !

  3. Jim Brennan says:

    I’m a late bloomer with yoga, but a believer. Thanks for your reinforcement.

  4. I am both a runner and a yogi, and I too find that yoga makes me a better runner (and a better cyclist, swimmer, person in general….). Besides the strength and flexibility that yoga develops, I also find the mental toughness that yoga cultivates from things like holding warrior 3 or chair pose for 5 minutes really helps when you’re still 5 miles from the end of your run and all you want to do is stop and call someone to come pick you up! I also like to do a short yoga practice as a cool-down/stretch after my runs. Some of my favorite poses for post-run yoga are low lunge, lizard, pigeon, forward bend, hero, bow, and an inversion or two to get the blood flowing back to my head and away from my feet.

  5. genext13 says:

    I have yet to get into yoga. I know the benefits and I even have a friend who just got certified to teach yoga. My family obligations keep me too busy to get out to doit though. I know it would speed my recovery time and increase my overall performance as a runner but it just isn’t the time for me. Love your blog! Thanks for visiting me!

  6. allisoncf says:

    A more coherent and useful post on what I meant to convey today! I really need to make at least some of the poses part of my more regular routine. Especially pigeon for my tight hips!

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