Those who practice yoga regularly will find that it makes a tremendous positive impact on your posture, balance and stability. These three things help you maximize your workout. But yoga is not just about helping you achieve balance - it can be used to promote strength and flexibility in your joints as well.
Most poses involve some level of flexing of muscles, which automatically increases the flexibility of your joints. And this makes a difference to your form and concentration during long-distance runs. It also protects against injuries and muscle pulls, which makes yoga a great recovery routine after running.
Known as the Belly Twist in regular parlance, this asana stretches the back muscles, realigns and lengthens the spine, and hydrates the spinal disks. This means your back will be more than flexible to lift weights and for long periods of running upright.
- Lie down with both legs stretched and hands apart on the side. Inhale and bend both knees to bring your feet closer to the body and to each other.
- Slowly let the left foot come off the ground and start twisting both knee joints towards the right side.
- While you are twisting, the head must move to the opposite side. Return to the starting position and repeat the pose on the opposite side.
You may call it a seated spinal twist if the original traditional name is a mouthful. Makes spine supple and increases its elasticity. The final pose opens the chest and increases the oxygen supply to the lungs and your muscles, which is a key part of working out effectively.
- Sit with the legs stretched out straight in front of you, keeping feet together and the spine erect. Bend the left leg and place the heel beside the right hip.
- Take the right leg over the left knee. Place the left hand on the right knee and the right hand behind you.
- Twist the waist, shoulders and neck in this sequence to the right and look over the right shoulder.
- Keep the spine erect. Breathing out, release the hand behind you first, then release the waist, chest and neck. Repeat on the other side.
Known as the boat pose, this works on your core, which has a positive impact on all your workouts whether it is running, hitting the gym or working out at home. It strengthens the abdomen, hip flexors, and spine, while stimulating the kidneys, thyroid and prostate glands, and intestines for improved digestion and metabolism.
- Place hands face down on either side of your hips in a seating position. Draw navel in towards your spine.
- Keeping the thighs hugged together, draw knees into the chest by engaging core.
- Lengthen from tailbone to the top of the head, drawing shoulders back to the elongate neck. Grasp thighs below the knee crease, keeping elbows drawn in towards the side body.
- Expand chest without lifting ribs. Keep your arms in line with knees, and elbows and fingers extended. Extend your lower legs in line with thighs, maintaining toe point. Arms can stay floating, or grasp your shins/calves/feet.
The locust pose is far more difficult than it looks and performing it regularly strengthens your legs – crucial for running and lower-body workouts – as well as your upper body. Specifically it works on the pelvic arms, shoulders, thighs, calf muscles, hip and back muscles.
- Lie down on the floor on your belly and place your chin on the floor. Place toes on the floor and touch knees to the ground.
- Put hands below the hips in a way that your palms rest on the ground.
- While inhaling lift the head, upper body, thighs and legs off the floor. Raise the leg as high as possible, hold your breath for a few seconds.
- Remain in this position resting your body on your belly. You can also place blankets below your thighs if you are not able to maintain balance.
Sometimes a plain and simple cooldown may not deliver the ideal results for stretching and muscle recovery. This is where Yoga with its holistic movement and wide range of targets comes into play. Using yoga to cooldown after a workout can become a good addiction, and you will find yourself not being able to get that deep recovery from a regular cooldown involving simple stretches.