The benefits of yoga practice are endless. Seriously, it creates a heightened sense of body awareness, improves flexibility, helps prevent injuries, increases strength of key muscle groups, reduces stress and anxiety — need we go on? New Balance fitness ambassador Aly Raymer has been a fitness instructor for more than 7 years teaching cycling and yoga, and has even created her own style of yoga for runners. "I understand athlete's bodies need to build flexibility and strength, however I realize the limitations that constant training can have," says Raymer. Understanding the countless benefits yoga and stretching can have on the body, we've asked Aly to provide us with some insight on how you can incorporate yoga into your everyday training to become a better athlete and a better runner. Here's her expert advice along with the 5 best yoga poses for runners:
Runners, in particular can reap gigantic benefits from practicing yoga — deep stretching after a run will keep your muscles long and loose as well as prevent soreness and stiffness caused by the buildup of lactic acid. Not to mention, it can teach you to cope with the discomfort and intensity of both long runs and tempo runs — practitioners of yoga see a heightened ability to control emotions while running. We're not saying you have to attend an hour yoga class twice a week — you can hold poses or run through a quick sequence before or after your runs.
Not only does yoga increase flexibility of the body, it also increases strength in major muscle groups such as the core, quads, hamstrings and hips. The increase in physical power and resilience will help you run more efficiently, and safely! Yoga also places a large focus on muscle and bone alignment which helps correct postural and gait problems that often lead to knee, hip and back pain for runners.
Here are five important yoga poses you can do anywhere, any time — great for stretching out post-run!
Downward Facing Dog
With hands and knees on the floor, place your knees directly below your hips and hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Lift your knees away from the floor. As you do this, gradually straighten your knees (without completely locking them); activate your shoulder blades so they are firm and pushing into your back. Keep your head down between your upper arms.