Those who follow my Insta will know that I have become pretty obsessed with yoga recently, which is weird since it’s an activity I have always quite actively dismissed. I always thought I didn’t need yoga – that the mindful, head-clearing time I needed I got whilst I was out running, and this – in fairness – was at least partially true. But what I hadn’t realised, whether because I’d just never done yoga properly or due to my own closed-mindedness, is quite how life-changingly beneficial yoga can be.
So, in true fabufit fashion – I thought I’d give all my runner friends (or other cardio junkies, or just anyone for that matter) the full lowdown as to why I think yoga is the absolute bees knees for all of us.
Breathing. Breathing is one of the most important things in cardio, but something we NEVER practise and are barely even taught. It’s just something that we take for granted – that good old ❤ inside will sort it out for us. But if you can get a control of your breathing and really think about each and every breath, you will not only be able to go faster and further, but your muscles will also be much more pleased with you (more oxygen going round the body, more CO2 escaping… science and stuff).
Get to know your body. I thought I knew my body pretty well, until a yoga instructor talked me through the muscles of my body from neck to toes, telling me to relax them as I went. That’s when I started knowing and respecting my body. When properly engaging with my muscles, I could feel that they were stressing… all the bloody time. Relaxing is not something that my muscles are told to do very often.
Stretch. Properly stretch. Most people I know are pretty lazy with stretching. Really, who can be arsed? You’ve just run a 6 miler in the rain and all you want is a cup of tea and a shower. You’ll stretch before you go to bed, for sure. But will you? PROBABLY not. Yoga is the best way of getting me to stretch properly (not just touching my toes for a couple of secs) after a work out, be it immediately afterwards or on days I’m not even running. Flexibility (lack of tightness) in those muscles isn’t only so you don’t have major DOMS the next day. It’s so you don’t get injured, so you can keep being your best. Youtube yoga for runners or cyclists or for sport or whatever and you’ll find something you can discipline yourself to include at the end of every workout!
Keep it balanced. Balance is the key word here and in every other walk of life. We need balance all the time, but especially if you’re a runner/someone who does running. Finding your centre of balance and maintaining it is a bloody good way of ensuring you’re nice and stable when you’re out there on the track.
Take a moment out. You might consider running to be your major down time, and I’ll be the first to say that running is my number one go-to way of clearing my head and destressing. But yoga is a bit different. In yoga you’re destressing at the same time as you destress your legs and heart rate and everything else. You’re doing what your body permits rather than what your mind forces, for once!
Exercise on rest days. Sometimes exercise is really the only thing that keeps us going, right? So what about these rest days? How on earth are we supposed to cope when our coping mechanism is stripped away from us? Perhaps due to injury, or just because you know you shouldn’t be running every day because despite all the hype, it’s actually not THAT good for you 😉 I find yoga to be a fantastic release on these rest days, to engage with my body and release my day in a very different, yet equally therapeutic way.
So… give it a go. Most gyms offer daily yoga classes or, if you’re not a gym member, you’re never too far away from a yoga studio/community yoga classes that usually have PAYG options. Or, if you are strapped for pennies, just get on youtube, google yoga tutorials and you’ll find some. I promise you’ll have a good time. Just give it a chance.