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Running & Yoga - Are They Complementary?

Updated: May 17



In the world of physical activity, it seems as though there are two kinds of people: those who run, and those who do yoga. The two activities couldn’t be more different — one is high-intensity and high-impact, while the other is slower and gentler (although still a good workout). Both forms of exercise offer plenty of benefits and opposite in nature.


However, Running and Yoga go together like yin and yang. While at first they may seem disparate, they are actually complementary. And just as the Taoist yin-yang symbol displays a circle of the yang in the yin and a circle of the yin in the yang, running and yoga each hold space for the other at their core.


While running involves moving forward through space, covering miles of ground as a time, a yoga practice is usually confined to a 2.5-by-6-foot mat. But both involve using the mind, body and breath in unison to test — and often to surpass — the boundaries of what we think we can do.


While running involves doing, pushing, working, a yoga asana practice is often about being, yielding, resting. But both require and develop the athlete’s intuition about when and how much to strive, when and how much to surrender.


Related : Do You Have a Strong Core?


When running can emphasize numbers such as mileage, interval pace and cadence, yoga eschews such categorization. But both teach us to follow the voice within.


While running can seem to be about competition, yoga can seem to shun competition. But we learn from both that we create competition from our own minds and that it can push us to perform and grow in wonderful ways.


When we run, proper form creates endurance by using only the energy we need. When we practice yoga poses, we need to engage the right muscles to support the shape and then relax everywhere else. In both, we need to use the breath that supports the demands on the body.


If You Are a Yogi

For those whose main sport is yoga, their cardiovascular system could benefit from being strengthened by having a running routine. Running is a great way to improve your cardiovascular fitness. Having good levels of cardiovascular fitness certainly helps when it comes to longer, more dynamic yoga practices.


One of the great things about running is that, unlike yoga, it gives you a great deal of feedback metrics. You can track your running progress via pace, distance, or heart rate, meaning that you can set clear goals. For yogis, setting and reaching running goals can be an excellent psychological motivator for their overall fitness journey.


If You Are a Runner

Having good levels of flexibility and the ability to control flexibility with strength through active stretching will help with running efficiency. Having a good range of motion across the various different joints in the body will help the biomechanics of your running ensuring that you are utilizing the full range and power of each joint in each running movement.


Related : Are You Stretching Enough?


Yoga can help runners to listen more closely to their bodies. You may end up catching an injury at an earlier stage, saving you a whole lot of strife. It lets us know on a regular basis exactly where the small imbalances and tightnesses are – all while correcting them at the same time.


Bottom Line

Yoga is a great way for runners to slow down and improve their body in ways that running can sometimes miss. This, in turn, can not only make you a faster runner, but a healthier one, too. If you’re new to yoga, remember to start slowly and don’t force movements that don’t feel comfortable. A good place to start is to look for yoga routines designed specifically for runners, since they will address the demands that running places on your body and help to stretch and strengthen the most important areas to keep you running strong.


Practicing both will help us find the right balance between running and yoga, between doing and being, and between moving through the world outside and exploring oneself inside.


More on Yoga & recovery later.


About the authors:

Madur & Anitha Jagannath are certified Nutrition Consultants, in addition to their professions in technology and human resources. When Madur started feeling lethargic and slowing down, he started exercising regularly, became conscious of healthy eating habits and nutrition. He is an avid runner and does half-marathons often. At Voyage to Wellness, they attribute our reputation to the lasting customer relationships they have developed throughout the years. They believe in health & wellness and being fit, at all stages of people's lives.


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