What is the link between Yoga and Running? A question I asked myself several times as I introduced a new class to my schedule and began to understand how the two complement each other. I believe the answer is breath.
As you breathe in yoga, mindfulness and focus are brought to your mat. In each pose you take, in each sequence you work through, breath is at the forefront. You learn to consistently use breath to lengthen, deepen and let go of tension. You recognize that when you hold your breath your body becomes stiff and strain can result.
Consider your breath as you run. When you become overworked or stressed, you may tend to hold your breath or take rapid, shallow breaths. Yet, when the run is over you often let out a deep sigh of relief, allowing your muscles to relax and signaling your brain that all is well. As you continue to breathe your heart rate decreases and oxygen is transported to your organs and muscles, bringing you back in balance.
What if instead, you incorporated focused breathing into your run? How might it change? As you breathe, pacing, distance and improved performance come to you. Proper breathing transports oxygen to muscles and organs consistently, thereby supporting your physical exertion. Finding a stable breathing pattern will help to boost your endurance, providing increased performance as you run longer distances. Furthermore, focusing on your breath as you run aids in setting a steady pace; this helps to evade overexertion that can lead to injury.
As races are upon us consider adding a little yoga to your running regimen. Try practicing a few of your favorite poses after a run or possibly check out a couple yoga classes at a local studio. I am confident you will feel stronger and find breath you didn’t know you needed.
~The divine in me salutes the divine in you, Namaste~