Whether you run because it’s your preferred method of exercise or you’re training for a race, most days of your week probably feature you putting in some miles. While running should take up the bulk of your workout, it’s important to cross train to avoid overuse injuries, strengthen and stretch your body and move in new ways to stay challenged.
Yoga serves as an excellent cross-training format with running but it not only helps build strength as you hold your bodyweight in poses, but it gives you a chance to relax and improve your flexibility. This is especially important for your lower body because your hips, calves, hamstrings and quads are sure to be tight. Let’s take a look at the different yoga forms you might want to consider trying:
Hatha is perhaps the most common type of yoga. It incorporates physical poses with breathing and can introduce you to the basic yoga postures. The movements are gentle, so this will be a great option for those who are new to yoga. It’s also beneficial for relaxation, stretching and de-stressing.
This format was developed by B.K.S. Iyengar, and this type of yoga focuses on biomechanics, proper alignment and balance. Because of this, Iyengar is great for people with sore muscles as well as those who are recovering from a running injury. You’ll go through many of the traditional poses, but they’ll be done with the assists of straps, blocks, blankets, bolsters and other yoga props to ensure that the form is correct and balanced.
Vinyasa means flow in Sanskrit, and this form is characterized by its flowing movements. This will be a bit more energetic than Hatha because you’re constantly in motion, moving through the choreography of each pose. Vinyasa might be useful for intermediate runners.
This is also known as power yoga, so you can expect more of a workout in this form. Ashtanga flows as well and incorporates six pose sequences that challenge your mind and body. Each move is connected to your breathing pattern, like Vinyasa, and you may even work up a sweat during Ashtanga. This form is useful for runners who are looking for a challenge in their cross training.
Bikram yoga is excellent for those who like to sweat. This format was developed by Bikram Choudhury and involved a series of 26 poses done in a room that’s around 105 degrees Fahrenheit. If you can stand the heat, it can help improve your flexibility, which is sure to reflect in your running.
In addition to adding yoga to your overall running program, you should partake in regular self massage sessions to keep muscles loose and work out any knots in your lower body so you can move at your best. Using a leg massager allows you to enjoy both a relaxing massage as well as deep tissue for those more tense spots.