Monday, 11 March 2013

Does yoga help you become a better runner?

Back in January I remember our friend Rachel (Is being vegan healthy?) mentioning yoga while we was discussing vegan issues.  Rachel mentioned that there are some runners amongst her clientele who, although they are often fit, sometimes they can be a bit on the 'tight' side.  From the smallest of glimpses, there is certainly more to yoga than meets the eye.

Other times I am sure people must be asking "can yoga help me lose weight" or "can yoga help me look younger, taller, more attractive, more....?"

I think I know what she means with my calf muscles right now as they feel a bit tight when I run.  Then I came across an interesting article by Hilary Gibson (click here) in which she, as a runner, has previously taken the "burn calories now, deal with it later" approach which I guess many people can end up seriously regretting.  She argues that yes, yoga can help runners and she states "not only has my yoga practice kept my Achilles tendon free from strain, but my entire perspective on running has also changed".

Hilary Gibson touches on being more in-tune with her body, more aware of how she is moving, breathing and how its working.  Assessing the mental approach seems significant as well.

This has got me thinking.  It's got me wondering about yoga.  The flip side is that I don't think yoga devotees would claim that only they can be in-tune with their bodies but from my looking around it is clear they are in-tune.   I have really experienced that connection when I have been running - being so aware of my breathing, my heart rate, feeling my muscles, joints and tendons all working with each other in a balanced way.  Sometimes cycling brings that as well - after an hour or so.  And yet, I don't always feel like that.  Most of the time, in fact, I just run and hopefully get the opportunity to become totally out of breath running up a hill or a bit of interval training in the middle of the run.   Good though that is, it's not necessarily being in-tune with my body, that happens much less often.  So maybe yoga devotees have a point.

Being "fit enough" to run X miles is fine but the question of whether that is bringing the rewards that are there to be had.  What use is running a marathon in a good time if you're eating the wrong foods, or if someone smokes?   Or perhaps if someone drinks too much, uses illicit drugs, weighs too much or too little, or..... the list goes on.

Easy for some to get worried about all of this - and there maybe genuine concerns - but also easy to get swept along with fads or fashions.  For me, I wish I had time to explore yoga or Pilates, I really do.  Maybe someday I will.  For all of us we can only do what we have time to do and, of course, it is right to keep the correct balance in life.  What use is taking up X and neglecting Y (especially if Y represents your family, faith or profession)?

One day.....

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