Which Came First? The Yogi or the Runner?

Which came first? The Yogi or the Runner? | Kayla Hall

The yogi: introspective, wholesome, and at one with body and mind. The runner: excitable, loud, and looking for the next challenge. Which came first, the yogi or the runner? For many finding yoga is a natural progression after finding running. Yoga can provide a platform for running for both mental and physical training. For me, it was the opposite. Finding running only after finding yoga. Yoga gave me the breath work and the confidence to start more intense physical activity. If I could breath though it, It would be okay, right?! What kinds of feats could I complete on these two legs?! I write this because I love yoga and because I love running. Both have taught me tremendous things about my body. Maybe you practice yoga, or running, or both. I hope you can find body awareness, stronger breath, and a quieter mind through these activities. 

1. Breath work. If you’re not breathing right your run WILL be affected. As you take deep, focused, controlled breaths while running, oxygen is provided to your muscles aiding in preventing cramps. Yoga will help you focus on the breath. In fact, yoga directed translated from Sanskrit is “the union.” Referring to connecting breath and body. This breath work can directly translate into smoother, better runs. 

2. Redefining failure. Yoga teachers all over will agree that getting to the “final” pose is never the goal. How you feel in a posture is far more valuable than how deep in a posture you can achieve. This logic in yoga helps me in my runs too. The quality, consistency and dedication to your run is more important than your pacing. Find yourself having an “off” run? The kind when your lungs don’t work, and your feet told you to stop 2 miles ago? It isn't the end of the world and it IS part of the process. The end result of a sub 2 hour half marathon or bakasana is not necessarily the point. Embrace “failures” & embrace your journey. Some runners may never run a fast mile and likewise some yogis may never master advance poses. This does not define you. 

3. Embracing injury. Shin splints, fractures, stress fractures, and the list goes on. If you’re new to running, and you think you’ll never have an injury. Think again. With this being said times of injury are a chance for recreation. Rebirth. So as a runner if you find yourself in a spot in which you are unable to run, it is an ideal time to explore other fitness modalities. Yoga included. Yoga is also is a step to help prevent injuries in the first place. As you learn to let go of expectations, I’m positive you've heard your yoga teacher tell you this one, you can do this in your running as well. Surprise yourself with the distances you are able to run, rather than the expectation to complete specific milage. 

4. Running is spiritual. Feet praying to Mother Earth with each step. As runners our foot prints planted on this Earth can act as our prayer or meditation. Simplistic repetitive movement encourages this “moving mediation.” Embrace it, it will be hard. 

5. Um, hi, balancing postures. Attention all trail runners. Y'all need yoga. For real. But no matter what type of terrain you find yourself placing your foot steps, balance is key! If you are a runner reading this chances are you have rolled your ankles, at least a dozen times. Practicing balancing postures in yoga can help strengthen your ankles and reduce this tendency. Balancing postures such as warrior III, balancing half moon, tree pose, dancer’s pose and many more all help with the tiny muscles surrounding your ankle. Allowing you to take each step with confidence. 

6. Happy hips & back... & IT band... & hamstrings. The way we move our body from our shoulders, to our hips, knees, and feet all impact our stride. This infamous “gate” can make or break our ability to run. Help maintain healthy posture and hips with yoga. Your posture when you run is important. 

7. Core strength. Our core is a complex design of muscles intended to help us move our best. The more you use it, the more you get out of it. This does not mean boring traditional crushes or planks, in yoga it is incorporated in nearly every movement. When we bring awareness to our core it allows fluidity in the rest of our body. 

8. Taper days/ “active” rest days. The days you maybe dread the most. The days your training calendar reads, REST. When in the peak of our training it can be hard to tell our minds to do what we need most- rest. The use of yoga, especially restorative classes/practices, to complement these days can help your recovery. And help with pre race anxiety you may be having. 

9. Combine the two. How amazing it that we live in such a community that allows the ability to run to/from yoga. Try it!  

10. Find your mix. If you are an intense runner this might mean finding restorative practices. If you categorize yourself as a more casual jogger maybe check out more intense vinyasa classes. There is no perfect formula for yoga and running. Keep in mind that each run should accompany some time spent stretching, maybe spend your time stretching using breath work you've learned from your yoga classes. Attend full classes on your “active” rest days, and last, but not least, listen to your body. 

Join me for a Yoga for Runners workshop on November 17th! Follow the link to register or sign up at the studio! https://www.lotustownyoga.com/workshops-events/

Tiffany Coombs