In honor of the Summer Solstice and International Yoga Day tomorrow, I’d love to share how developing a consistent yoga practice has not only helped me quiet my mind, but has made my running stronger as well!
I stumbled into my first yoga class five years ago, while training for my first marathon, having been told it was “good for me.” Every Wednesday evening I reluctantly rolled out my mat, considering the class an opportunity to stretch out, let my muscles recover, relax…anything but an actual WORKOUT, despite the fact I left every week a sweaty mess, wondering why I felt sore the next day.
Flash forward to June 2016, and I’m working towards achieving my 200hr yoga teacher training, having found the magic in the madness. While I’m very much still working on appreciating the meditative benefits of yoga (depending what I’ve got going on outside of the studio, the final savasana is sometimes the hardest part for me!), not to mention nailing a forearm headstand, I’ve definitely come to recognize the many benefits that accompany a regular yoga practice. In fact, some of my best morning runs occur when I’ve attended a yoga class the night before!
In addition to the more obvious physical benefits offered by specific yoga poses - opening up tight hips, gaining flexibility, building core strength - yoga helps develop the mind-body connection, creating a stronger body awareness that forces you to listen to your body, and becoming more tuned in to aches/pains that runners are often guilting of ignoring. Because yoga postures often work smaller, underworked muscles, practicing at least 1-2x a week is great for injury prevention when you’re training for an endurance race.
I can honestly say that, since I started teaching barre several times a week close to 2 years ago, my speed and endurance has improved significantly, despite the fact that I’m not running nearly as much as I used to. After incurring a concussion, having to walk the St. Patrick’s Day Shamrock 5K, and being “benched” for the better part of March, I was thrilled to get my PR in the Sole of the City 10K a month later, largely due to cross-training and attention to breathe developed in yoga/barre!
I regularly tell my barre students that the work they put in throughout class will make them stronger in whatever it is they do outside the studio - whether that be cycling, running, or needing to chase after their little ones! I was fortunate to run the entire race alongside one of my regular students (and now friend!), chatting the entire way, pushing each other when we started to fall back, reminding each other to breathe, and when we got to the finish and realized we’d both PR’ed, she agreed all that core work I put her thru in class had paid off!
So now that I’ve sold you on the incredible benefits of yoga, now the question is - where do you go to practice?! Tomorrow evening VITA in Belvedere Square will be hosting FREE Sunset Yoga from 8-9PM, followed by drinks, snacks, giveaways from LOLE and discounts. Register here, and be sure to keep your eye out for more (free!) Yoga for Runners classes offered in-store at Charm City Run.
About the Author: Annie Truax
Annie is a freelance marketing/PR consultant to local health & wellness companies and teaches barre at several Baltimore studios. Alongside two close friends she founded BMOREtoned, a lifestyle blog, and considers herself a fair-weather runner.