Yoga can be beneficial for runners in many different aspects by having positive effects on the body both physically and mentally. There are a number of variations of yoga that each have its own focus regarding the type of exercises, breathing techniques, and relaxation and meditation practices. The physical aspects of yoga have proven to help one’s flexibility, coordination, and strength. Also, practicing proper breathing and meditation techniques have been known to help reduce stress levels, anxiety, and other problems. Yoga can be so great for a variety of athletes, especially runners, because they are constantly overusing the same muscles groups of muscles. The overuse of muscles can often result in injury and yoga can serve as an excellent injury prevention method that strengthens those muscles that are not used on the daily. Continue reading to find out some ways yoga can help you!
There have been many studies showing that yoga can reduce stress levels and the amount of cortisol, a stress hormone, your body is producing. One study using 131 participants over a 10 week span showed that the participants had significantly reduced their stress and anxiety levels. They also reported that they felt improvements in their overall quality of life and mental health.
Yoga has also been known to help treat anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. One study according to a Healthline article, used 64 women with a history of PTSD, who practiced yoga once a week for a 10 week period. At the conclusion of the study, 52% of the women no longer met the criteria for PTSD.
Back Pain Relief
According to a Harvard Health article, yoga is an effective technique in reducing back pain and many physicians are recommending it to patients as a plan for long-term relief. Rather than lying in bed for an extended period of time, it is better to get moving as soon as possible. Yoga can help relieve back pain by increasing flexibility and muscle strength. One study used in the article was conducted for a 24 week span, where people with back pain did yoga twice a week for 90 minutes each time, found that 56% of participants experienced a reduction in pain. Also, 68% of the participants were still doing yoga for an average of three days per week after the conclusion of the study.
The same Harvard Health article also uses evidence demonstrating that yoga can relieve arthritis pain. Yoga is great for reducing pain from arthritis because it is a more gentle form of exercise that can improve range of motion and strengthen muscles around painful joints. The first study the article references involved 36 women participants with osteoarthritis in their knees. They participated in a 60 minute yoga class for eight weeks and averaged 112 minutes of yoga on their own time. After the eight week period, they reported 38% pain reduction and 35% improvement in range of motion.
Flexibility and Balance
There is also a great deal of research that reinforces yoga’s positive effects on flexibility and balance. Another 10 week study used 26 male athletes in college, 14 of which participated in bi-weekly yoga classes and 12 participants did no yoga at all. The results showed that the 14 athletes that participated in the yoga sessions showed improvements in flexibility measurements, while the 12 athletes that did not do yoga experienced no significant improvements. Another Study used 66 elderly participants who either practiced yoga or calisthenics for a yearlong period. The results of the study showed that those who practiced yoga increased their total flexibility by almost four times that of the calisthenics participants.
Most yoga classes include breathing techniques to enhance relaxation and oxygen flow for proper stretching. If practiced properly, yoga can actually improve breathing. This is shown in one study using 287 college students as participants, who participated in a 15-week class. After practicing different
poses and proper breathing techniques, the study showed significant improvement in vital capacity among participants. Another study in 2009 has also shown that yoga can help improve symptoms of those with mild-to-moderate asthma.
Common Types of Yoga
There are many different types of yoga that focus on different kinds of poses and movements. Therefore, it is important to know a little bit about some of the common types of yoga so you know how to pick your classes based on what you are looking to do
- Kundalini Yoga
Kundalini Yoga includes breathing exercises, warmups to get the body moving, poses, and a final relaxation and meditation period. It also can involve some singing and chanting, so it is great for those looking for spiritual relief as well as a physical workout.
- Vinyasa Flow Yoga
Vinyasa yoga or flow yoga is one of the most common forms of yoga and is great for both beginners and the more experienced. Vinyasa yoga contains a constant rhythm and flow of different poses and
breathing techniques and can also be perfect for those looking for a peaceful, yet physically challenging workout.
- Hatha Yoga
Hatha yoga classes include a balanced mix of poses, breathing exercises, and meditation that is great for anyone looking for a balanced/gentle type of yoga.
- Yin Yoga
Yin Yoga is one of the best types of yoga for recovery after a difficult workout. It is a very slow style of yoga that focuses on holding poses for a longer period of time in order to improve flexibility of muscles
and connective tissues. This can be great to do after a long run or hike!
If you are looking to improve your flexibility, reduce stress, and have a lot of fun and think yoga might be able to help you, stay tuned as Go Far will be offering classes starting 2019. We hope to see you there so we can help you to continue to Go Far! #gofargotogether #gofar