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I have been a marathon runner and loved running in the forest of Heidelberg, cities, and fields enjoying the rhythm of my breathing. It was life changing experience. With the time, I’ve realized that my cardio got so much better, I’ve lost few extra kilos and gained my confidence back. The “high” you receive from running is amazing!

 Looking back, I do not regret leaving 5 days a week running behind and gradually translating it into trekking and cycling. The reason is, running is too demanding on the knees, hips and toes and injuries are extremely painful and sometimes beyond repair.

Yoga has been always the part of my life and thanks to Yoga that I’ve escaped the horror of injuries throughout. The reason I choose yoga and suggest you mixing your running with quality Yoga practice, that will not only enhance their performance but also brings tremendous positive effects to their mind-body. In this case, Ashtanga Yoga is best because it is challenging, trains you to control your breathing, improve your core strength and flexibility of hamstring, calf and hips muscle. Here is the list of benefits:

1. Yoga helps reduce the physical stress caused by running

A typical runner experiences too much pounding, tightening, and shortening of the muscles and not enough restorative, elongating and loosening work. If you’re off balance, every step you take forces the muscles to work harder in compensation. Tight muscles get tighter and weak muscles get weaker. A tight muscle is brittle, hard, and inflexible. Because muscles act as the body’s natural shock absorbers, ideally they should be soft, malleable, and supple, with some give. Brittle muscles, on the other hand, cause the joints to rub and grind, making them vulnerable to tears.

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Yoga’s internal focus centers your attention on your own body’s movements rather than on an external outcome. Runners can use yoga practice to balance strength, increase the range of motion, and train the body and mind. asanas move your body through gravitational dimensions while teaching you how to coordinate your breath with each subtle movement. The eventual result is that your body, mind, and breath are

The result is that your body, mind, and breath are integrated into all actions. Through consistent and systematic asana practice, you can engage, strengthen, and place demands on all of your intrinsic muscle groups, which support and stabilize the skeletal system.

2. Yoga increases awareness and confidence as you run.

Yoga teaches the cultivation of body wisdom and confidence. You become more aware listen and respond to messages the body sends you. This is especially important in running, where the body produces a lot of endorphins. These “feel good” chemicals also double as nature’s painkillers, which can mask pain and the onset of injury or illness. Without developed body intuition, it’s easier to ignore the body’s signals.

The calmness you glean from yoga practice allows you to manage and economize your energy. You can learn to intuit where you are on a given day and what resources you have to give. Therefore, you don’t power drive through every workout mindlessly but rather respect your body’s limitations.

Stress/Tension is the athlete’s downfall, and breath awareness is key to reducing it. Conscious breathing and Pranayama exercises, which soothe the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems and relax the entire body, can be of great benefit to runners.

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Maximum oxygen intake is a crucial physiological variable determining performance and endurance for runners. With pranayama and asana conditioning, you can maximize the size of your pump and the quantity of fresh blood coursing through your body. Ashtanga Yoga practice can increase your oxygen capacity.

3. Yoga reduces the risk of injury.

The body is the sum of its parts and impairment of one affects them all. A bad back is going to affect your ankles just as weak knees can throw off your hip alignment. For example, shin splints are the result of a seemingly minor misstep: an uneven distribution of weight that starts with the way the feet strike the ground. Each time the foot hits the ground unevenly, a lateral torque travels up the leg, causing muscle chafing and pain up and down the tibia known as shin splints. – You can visualize what I mean here 🙂

What does this mean for the runner with pain in his lower back? Or a painful heel condition? First of all, don’t ignore your body’s signals. Take a break when your body needs one. Learn to intuit when rest is appropriate. Secondly, start incorporating Yoga postures (Suksham Yoga)  into the warm-up and cool-down portions of your workout. Think of running as the linear part of your workout and yoga as its circular complement.

There’s no need to be sidelined by injuries and discomfort brought on by your running program. Chronic injuries can eventually self-correct through a gentle yet consistent yoga practice.

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Want to take a Yoga class? Why not start with Ashtanga Yoga Beginners classes from 6th September with me in Heidelberg. Check out the classes and see what suits you best. 

Happy Running and happy Yoga!

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