I love yoga. But alas, I don't do it enough. Here is a guest post from Sasha on the benefits of Yoga!
Yoga and the Athlete
Yoga is an incredible physical, spiritual and mental form of exercise that is tremendously beneficial to everyone. Yoga is deeply appreciated for its ability to improve one's flexibility, inner peace and strength. A low-intensity activity like yoga makes it beginner-friendly and fun for all prospective participants. It is also effective and advantageous for fit athletes as well.
Runners are known for experiencing frequent side effects as result of poor pre or post-stretching and an occasionally diminishing technique as they progress through their run. However, sometimes even if one has correct technique and practices accurate forms of stretching before and after, excruciating pain can still circulate. That's just one reason distance runners and treadmill runners, specifically, can benefit significantly from yoga.
Running long distances can certainly strain leg muscles and contribute to a body imbalance. The Vrikshasana pose is a successful cure for improving lost balance as a result of distance running. Vrikshasana utilizes almost all bodily parts (excluding the toes) and involves stretching upward whilst lifting the heels off the ground. This is an unbeatable method of stretching and a successful way to improve one's technique that may have gotten worse from running.
A proper breathing technique is critical for distance runners. In order to maintain a steady distance of running or even to increase the mileage, a correct way of breathing is essential. Yoga is renowned for its immense success in improving one's breathing patterns. The sukhasana pose is basically a seated, cross-legged pose that contributes to good posture and therefore, better breathing.
As previously mentioned, stretching is imperative for long distance runners. After running, it's normal for muscles to feel tight or sore, especially when walking up and down stairs. The trikonasana position is excellent for proper stretching and relaxing the muscles before a long run, which can prevent this tight feeling in the muscles. This method of yoga also promotes the strengthening of muscles, in addition to accurate stretching.
Yoga can provide immense benefits for all athletes, including triathletes. Yoga is useful for these specific athletes because it utilizes the muscles and internal areas essential for running. Several triathletes have stated that certain stability poses found by practicing yoga works the critical running muscles. Yoga experts also firmly believe that the flexibility aspects used in yoga assist in injury prevention and body recovery. Triathletes are active in three very physically demanding sports in a very short period of time, therefore leading to extremely tight and over-utilized muscles (like with runners, but to a higher degree). Yoga can prevent the potential stiffness brought on by such a strenuous workout. Active.com (Petretti, 2011) recommends the Eka Pada Rajakapotasana pose, commonly known as the pigeon pose, helps to fully open the muscles of the hips, stopping the possibility of stiff muscles immediately.
A second pose that works wonderfully for the triathlete is the dolphin pose. This pose does a stellar job of stretching out the hamstrings, which is a big priority for triathletes. Active.com also states that this pose caters to cyclists because it "mirrors the proper upper body alignment". Clearly, yoga is a crucial component in improving a triathlete's performance.
Yoga is an undeniable activity that can offer numerous benefits to any kind of athlete, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned yoga-goer. It does not discriminate. Various types of athletic trainers strongly suggest that athletes incorporate yoga into their daily exercise regimen in order to achieve stronger endurance, flexibility and balance. Ultimately, doing a few yoga poses before a long run or marathon will certainly relax and stretch the muscles, significantly cutting down the chance of extreme pain or an injury afterwards.
Don’t be worried if it’s your first time either! Check out my blog post on what to expect during your first class over on my blog.
Sasha Britton is a health and fitness buff with a love for beauty from the inside out, yoga and vegan living. Check out her personal blog and where she will soon be contributor with Gymsource Home Gyms (@SashsaBFit).