Don't know downward dog from an upward dog? Do you feel stiff as a runner but don't know how to improve?
No worries because winter is a great time to work on your flexibility. For some your mileage is lower making it easier to find time to cross train.
Yoga practice could be a critical piece in your training to meet some of those goals you have set. It can improve strength, flexibility and mental focus. Here is a class we designed for runners.
Why practice yoga? Studies have shown that yoga squashes stress, aids weight loss, eases pain, helps people stick to an exercise routine, and even improves running times. The strength and flexibility you develop on the mat--namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors--can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free. There are also benefits to foot strength, something many runners lack and cause injuries. Yeah we are talking about you plantar fasciitis!
The key is to start slow and don't get too ambitious to avoid injury and frustration.
Follow these tips for success to enjoying and getting the most benefit of a yoga practice:
Timing - Off running season is a great time to start a yoga practice. It's better to start when your body is not as stressed like when in full running training mode.
Be Humble - It takes years to master yoga poses. Don't think you will be perfect from the jump. Accept what you body can do each session.
Research - Find a class with an instructor you can connect with and understands your needs as a runner. Consistency is the key as opposed to the type of yoga practiced.
Finally, you don't have to or will necessarily turn into Gumby. Just strengthen and flexing muscles that aid in running form will make the small effort this week worthwhile.