It’s surely not the first time you are reading about the perks of hitting the mat with this ancient spiritual practice. The experiential stories of people and their journey through it are deep and bloggable. Yoga helps with establishing a body-mind complex, is a stress buster, increases lung capacity, improves circulation and then there is this: it makes you a better runner. It does not give you a heart-pounding high that you get when you run but it surely compliments your training and provides you with benefits that you won’t find on a treadmill.
Yoga practices and philosophy can work beautifully in sync with running. Yoga helps you with good stretching of the body that helps ease up the over used muscles of the lower body which in turn reduces stiffening and works up the upper body as well. Yoga involves certain controlled breathing practices that will help you run better. Consistent practice will help you attain focus, balance, flexibility, endurance and keep you faster and longer on the trail. It also provides mental strength which is as important as physical fitness on the trail.
A well-rounded yoga practice will thus work on core-strengthening, stamina, flexibility, suppleness, balance while inviting awareness and better connectivity of the body and the mind. You can get started here with some easy poses and postures.
Ekpadasana or the tree pose
Ekpadasana or the tree pose helps bring balance, poise, enhances strength and builds up focus. Stand erect with your chin parallel to the ground, eyes fixed at a point and toes together. Now with an inhalation, raise your left foot from the ground placing it on your calf or thigh as per convenience with the toe pointing outwards. Simultaneously, raise your hands and join them in a Namaste position above your head. Hold the posture as per capacity and release.
Warrior pose or Veerbhadrasana
Warrior pose is a great posture to build up strength and flexibility. It tones up muscles and increases stamina. Keep your feet apart with a distance of 3-4 feet in between them. Turn out your right foot keeping the left foot at the same position and raise your arms parallel to the ground. With an exhalation, bend your right knee forward to an angle of 90 degrees and keep the left leg elongated. Hold the posture till capacity and release.
Downward facing dog
The downward facing dog is the most commonly known pose with a variety of health benefits. It increases blood circulation in the body, gives you a great stretch, opens up joints and decreases anxiety. Come onto your hands and knees in a cow pose with your palms just forward of the shoulders. Spread your fingers with your index finger forward, knees under your hips and toes tucked. Inhale and lift your knees away from the floor as sit-bones reach towards the ceiling. At first, keep the knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Exhale and elongate up through your tailbone moving the abdomen towards the heels. This posture resembles an inverted “V”. Hold till capacity and release.
Camel pose or Usthrasana
Ushtrasana requires you to sit on your knees with your legs shoulder length apart and knees and toes resting on the floor. Slowly exhaling, bend backwards touching your fingers to your heels and hold the position till 5 counts or according to comfort level. This pose helps to activate the endocrine glands, stretch the intestinal organs, improve circulation and relieve constipation.
Pranayama or controlled breathing
Pranayama techniques are simple breathing exercises that have a range of extensive benefits. Pranayama is the control of bioenergy in the body, which with regular practise may cure your body of a range of diseases. Various pranayama techniques like anulom vilome (alternate nostril breathing) and kapalbathi can help you run longer and faster . Start by closing the right nostril and gently inhale through the left nostril. Then close the left nostril and exhale fully through the right nostril. While the left nostril is still closed, inhale fully through the right nostril. Finally exhale through the left nostril with the right one closed. Repeat this series 3 times.
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