YOGA AS AN ALLY OF RUNNING
Do you want to improve your running performance? Regulate your breath and take care of your muscle groups? Strengthen them too? How about taking up yoga? Perfectly complementary to running, this gentle practice, composed of multiple postures with various aims, will allow you to listen to your body and to consider it differently. People who practice yoga also work on their breath: a beneficial teaching for runners, who can thus better regulate their breathing during their outings.
The effort required to practice yoga is not the same as that required for running. But be careful, this discipline is no less technical and requires a lot of concentration. This concentration is one of the strong points of the practice and may help you progress as you walk along roads, paths and trails. Yoga is about being able to keep up with the effort. So don't be discouraged if you start! It is clear that you will not immediately succeed in performing the most technical movements... To enlighten us on the complementarity between these two disciplines, Julie Guéry, yoga teacher, and Emilie Dufour, yoga and running practitioner, give us their advice and their feelings on this (vast) subject.
Different and complementary practices
As Julie Guéry explains, the two disciplines are very different and therefore perfectly complementary. "One works cardio, the other doesn't, one is explosive and enduring, the other allows the practitioner to control his breath, to work his deep muscles and to refocus on himself, his mind and his body". For Emilie, yoga is thus an excellent complement to running for several reasons, and in particular because these two sports require practitioners to have a rather different relationship with their bodies. "Running is about surpassing yourself, sometimes going beyond your physical limits and hurting yourself, in the good sense of the word. It's also about going fast... Yoga is about taking care of your body, focusing on yourself and taking a break, taking a break to do yourself some good and taking your time." Between running, which requires athletes to externalize their physical capacities, and yoga, aiming to refocus them on themselves, there is indeed a complementarity found and well felt!
Optimize your gestures
From a physical point of view, the choice to practice yoga directly serves the runner. "When you do different yoga postures, you work the deep muscles. And you strengthen them, which reduces the risk of injury. The body acquires greater resistance to effort and improves the way it functions. The movement of the runner, who adopts better postures, is optimized, it becomes more technical. The joints and muscles are less in compensation, since the movements are better performed." A point of view shared by Emilie, who discovered in the practice of yoga the opportunity to become aware of her body and some of its physical possibilities. "Unlike running, where you don't always think about your gestures or your way of doing things, yoga asked me to get to know my body better. I learned what my limits were in a more technical activity. In this too, these two practices are perfectly complementary."
Better posture and endurance
The practice of yoga helps to strengthen the deep muscles, especially through important work on the regulation of his breath. Thus, the transverse or thigh muscles are used differently during a yoga session than during a running session. "The runner adopts a better posture, straightens up and does not run arched," says Julie, to illustrate her point. This opens up his rib cage and optimizes the use of his respiratory system.
Learning to breathe, to control one's breath, is one of the keystones of the practice of yoga. And this foundation leads directly to an improvement in running activity. "The runner who practises yoga as a complement will learn to listen to his breathing, to regulate his breath during his outings. This will save energy, which will allow him to run longer." This deep muscle work is also one of the real assets of the dynamic yoga practiced by Emilie. "There are a lot of postures that allow us to gain in depth," says the athlete. "It's really something I felt. There's a lot of muscle development when you start yoga. In fact, a lot of cyclists do it too! Well, that's another subject, but in terms of working the muscles, knowing the body and flexibility, it's really a very interesting practice!"
Stretching, runner's friend
Let's talk about flexibility: many yoga postures allow the practitioner to stretch. A real advantage for Emilie, who feels it every day. "Stretching is, in my opinion, an essential part of the runner's arsenal! Among other things, it helps to avoid injuries. Overall, these stretching movements make you feel better. At the end of a yoga class, I generally feel very relaxed. The sessions make me feel good, I feel like I've really taken care of myself. When I come out of a run session, I feel more like sitting on my couch. It shows how complementary these sports are." Another asset confirmed by Julie: "Self-growing postures, like for example the one in the mountains, standing with your hands towards the sky, allow you to stretch your muscles and place yourself in hyper-extension. In the same way, the dog upside down impacts the muscles located at the back of the calf and thighs. These are areas that are very stressed by the runner."
Combining the two activities
Emilie practises yoga and running in separate sessions, mainly due to lack of time, and to avoid putting too much strain on her muscles at once. However, Julie says that yoga can be practiced by the runner as a warm-up before the session and as part of the recovery afterwards. "This helps prevent some stiffness from settling in. Following a running session, yoga also helps to calm down and regulate breathing." Among the postures focused more on work and stretching of the lower body, the warrior 1, 2, 3 and the sun. "These are relatively well-known movements, simple to perform and fairly gentle," says Julie. In terms of timing and organization, everyone will find the right combination to combine these two activities?
Focused on the objective
In addition to the physical benefits, the practice of yoga develops concentration and reduces stress. "One of the objectives of this activity is to learn to refocus on oneself, to become aware of one's body and to optimize one's concentration," says the yoga teacher. "It's also about letting go at certain times in your life." Or, as Emilie mentioned earlier, to take a break and open a wellness parenthesis. To take care of oneself, too, through a sport that demands rigour and precision. "Thanks to the simultaneous realization of the postures and the work on breathing, yoga teaches its practitioner to stay focused on his practice, on the goal to reach. This is also the challenge of running: to know how to stay focused on one's goal, even in effort. There is a real mental challenge in the practice of running or trail running. Yoga helps you not to be polluted by certain thoughts and to clear your mind to achieve what you want."
Have you ever prepared for a race? A half marathon? A marathon or a trail? Then you know what it's like to be at the starting line and feel that little bit of stress? Practicing yoga can also help you reduce it. "You need to keep a little anxiety before a big deadline. This can help the runner get in condition and help him to surpass himself," says Julie Guéry. "On the other hand, it must not, under any circumstances, disturb the athlete and hamper his performance." Yoga, with a few simple movements, will teach you to stay focused on what matters, optimize your ability to stay focused and reduce your stress...
So convinced? If you want to optimize your performance, feel physically at your best and allow your mind to connect with your practice and your goals, opt for yoga classes. Don't hesitate to talk to a coach about your practice, so that he or she can advise you on suitable postures and movements.
What about you? Do you practice running and yoga? Why did you choose these two disciplines to complement each other? What benefits do you derive from them? We're all waiting for your testimonials and tips on how to combine these two sports!