Carrie Lundy, a yoga instructor in my city, studied yoga in India. I’ve taken an outdoor yoga class with her and it was fantastic; I definitely have to do that again sometime soon. She agreed to answer a few questions that I had about yoga in general, and particularly about what it can do as a supplement to other activities such as running (Run A Race This Summer Challenge, anyone?). Here’s what she had to say!
Yoga of any kind can have tremendous benefits for athletes of all types so many people find that it can be helpful to integrate yoga into their regular training program.
How often should people do yoga to get the best results? As is true for many yoga questions, I would say that this depends on the individual, both when it comes to preference but also body type and injuries. Some people try to practice every day, others find it helpful to practice once a week. I think that in some ways it really just depends on why someone is practicing in the first place.
How can yoga be beneficial to those training to run races? Many poses can be helpful in opening the hips, widening the stance (therefore lengthening the running stride), and increasing endurance. A steady yoga practice also improves breath and body awareness, as well as focus, all of which can be beneficial to all athletes.
Can yoga help with knee injuries? Many who incorporate yoga into their regular training, or who maintain a daily practice report a decrease in aches and pains after a run. In terms of existing knee injuries, as with back issues, these often stem from having tight hips. Therefore incorporating yoga into training could very well help relieve some of the pain as hip-opening poses are common in many styles of yoga. Some people claim that a steady yoga practice eliminates some problems altogether. It is important to also keep in mind that one of the basic elements of yoga is listening to your own body and finding your individual edge, taking a step back if there is ever any pain or discomfort. Many instructors will be happy to give modifications and adjustments to help with specific injuries.
Are the health benefits different between regular yoga and hot yoga? There is a long list of benefits that come with all schools of yoga. Each style has its own sequence of postures, breathing techniques, and philosophies. I think it is important to practice different forms of yoga to gain the benefits of the varying postures, styles, and teaching methods.
That being said, my Moksha background does tend to make me a bit biased towards hot yoga, specifically Moksha Yoga Winnipeg! A lot of people think the heat will be over-whelming, but I think many are surprised to discover how soothing and relaxing a room at 37C can be. The same way a sauna, heating pad, or hot water bottle can be applied as a form of relief, hot yoga relaxes the joints and can ease aches and pains, such as arthritis and migraines.
Moksha specifically is a unique series of 40 postures that combine the precision of therapeutic yoga and the foundations of traditional yoga in a specially heated room. It is a cardiovascular workout that loosens, strengthens and tones the muscles, while calming the mind and reducing stress. The heat allows for deep, safe stretching and promotes detoxification of the skin, blood and muscles through sweat (you might be surprised to discover just how much you can sweat out in a 60-minute or 90-minute class).
A huge range of benefits, as well as information on trying hot yoga for the first time can be found at www.mokshayogawinnipeg.com. Regardless of the style or temperature of the class, most will agree that one of the major benefits to any type of yoga is just that it feels so good! Your body will truly love you for it…correction: you will truly love your body for it.
So, there you have it! Have any of you runners found yoga to be a useful part of your training?