I don’t like yoga. I don’t really like anything i’m not good at. Even my yoga instructor tells me I suck at yoga. Not directly, but a few weeks ago he said, “Kirby, it’s really good that you keep coming back. Don’t worry, you’ll get better”. He also says yoga isn’t about how it looks, it’s about how it feels. I can definetly feel it!
When I started doing yoga, I lived in Whistler, Canada. This small town, with a permanent population of 10 000, had 9 yoga studios. It was certainly a popular pastime there.
I struggle with yoga because I have poor flexibility, and poor balance. I’m really tight through the hip flexors, ITB, and shoulders. I can’t bend, and I can’t bind. Sometimes, I just collapse onto my mat and marvel at my more flexible classmates. However, there is one move, that for some reason, I can pull off, while all the other classmates fail: tripod headstand. It seems there are some advantages to being stiff as a board. I think the instructor throws it into every class now, just to make me feel a little better.
So if I dislike yoga so much, why do I keep on going? Because it benefits my running. Here’s why:
At first yoga and running might seem completely different, but look closely and you will see ways that they complement each other.
Yoga gives you a heightened sense of body awareness. By bringing awareness to certain parts of the body, you can learn to listen to your body and respond accordingly. For example, in the Melbourne marathon, my knee began to hurt around 8 or 9 km into the race. I listened, and responded by altering my stride slightly. The pain disappeared within a kilometre and did not bother me again.
With yoga, I learn to feel my body exist and move in space. I become accustomed to sustained movements that are both comfortable and uncomortable. So the more I practice yoga, the better I become at being in the ‘uncomfortable’ for longer periods of time.
There is also the recovery benefits of yoga. All that stretching (especially in a heated room) feels great on tired muscles. After running the Hunter Valley marathon in July (my second marthon in 2 weeks) I went to the 4pm hot yoga class at yoga loft, and recovered well enough to run the Jabulani challenge (43km trail run) The next weekend. I’m not suggesting that you should go out and try to run 3 marathons in 3 weeks, but I do think your muscle recovery might benefit from some yoga.
You might even find that yoga is good for your soul (and stress relief during a taper). Yoga will improve your running, as well as other areas of your life.