My introduction to yoga began in the early 2000’s with a Bikram class at a Seattle studio. I went religiously for about a year and then switched to Power Yoga (vinyasa-based yoga), as I enjoyed the variety that came with this style of yoga and the mix of teachers who taught the classes.
No matter how much I enjoyed yoga and the benefits it provided, it always came second to running. However, as I progressed with my practice, I found my running improved—I got stronger and had fewer running injuries. In 2006, I moved back to Portland and my yoga practice slipped. I hope today’s blog post will propel me back to the yoga mat and encourage you there as well.
I reached out to Jamie Shyo Dresselhaus, one of my favorite yoga teachers in Portland, to share why it’s so important for runners to “strike a pose.”
WHAT STYLE OF YOGA IS BEST FOR RUNNERS?
Most people will have a type of yoga that they gravitate toward, but in general I would say that Power Yoga is great for cross training and Yin or restorative yoga will assist with range of motion and deep tissue stretching and release.
HOW DOES YOGA BENEFIT RUNNERS?
Yoga offers so many benefits! For starters, it’s great for improving strength, balance, and endurance—all of which are important for runners—however, the benefits go so much deeper! Yoga is the practice of connecting the mind and body to improve focus. I find that most athletes tend to tune out a lot of sensory information in favor of performance. Yoga asks the practitioner to focus on his or her breath to become more aware of any physical or emotional challenges. Focusing on breath also helps to improve running form and technique, as well as tune out “external noise” so that you can meditate on the “move.”
Yoga also increases range of motion and flexibility to counter tightness in the hips and spine. The impact from running can cause compaction in these areas, and yoga aids in the release and relief from any stiffness and pain. And of course, the studies are piling up on how yoga assists in stress reduction and the prevention and treatment of cancer and other ailments. I recommend yoga to everyone! The key is finding the RIGHT type of yoga for who you are and where you are in life.
HOW DOES YOGA HELP RECOVER AFTER A LONG RUN OR RACE?
Yoga is a great recovery tool for removing lactic acid build-up in the body. The nature of yoga circulates body fluids and oxygen throughout the body to remove toxins and flush the body with fresh blood and lymph fluid, leaving runners feeling “refreshed” after a long run. Yoga also provides the mental and emotional space to quiet the mind—this alone is very healing!
HOW OFTEN SHOULD RUNNERS HEAD TO THE YOGA MAT?
Any amount of yoga is beneficial—even two minutes sitting on the couch in a comfortable position and focusing on your breath is helpful. There is no set schedule that works for everyone—I have students who come once a month and some who come once a week, while I see some students every day. My advice is to start where you can. If it’s something that works for you, your priorities will change and you’ll find yourself at the studio or practicing at home more often.
WHAT POSES WOULD BE HELPFUL FOR A QUICK WORKOUT AT HOME?
I recommend the following poses if you’re short on time and want a quick workout to increase your heart rate:
- Three sets of Sun Salutations A
- Three sets of Sun Salutations B
- End with Shavasana (corpse pose)—that’s where the magic happens!
WHAT TIPS DO YOU HAVE FOR NEWBIES OR BEGINNERS?
The best thing I can say to a newbie or beginner is that yoga is NOT about how you look or about getting the pose “right”— it’s about getting “right” with yourself. Don’t worry about what your neighbor is doing or a position that you can’t do (yet)—just take it one breath at a time and be patient.
CAN YOU SHARE A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO BECOMING A YOGA INSTRUCTOR?
Teaching yoga was never something I considered until I found the school that provided my teacher training. I actually disliked yoga for many years. I knew yoga was good for me and I practiced different styles, but I didn’t really understand it and find my love for yoga until a friend dragged me to the Bhaktishop Shop Yoga Center. It was like coming home when I stepped into that space. I took the teacher training to further my own practice and I’ll never forget the first class I taught and the vibration it created in my heart. I had found my home and my calling!
FOR THOSE WHO ARE LOCATED IN PORTLAND, WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU TEACHING YOGA?
I can be found at Yoga Pods in the Pearl district and Twist Yoga in Lake Oswego. I also teach private and corporate classes and have several upcoming retreats and special events on the horizon. I’m excited to share that I’m working on a line of yoga clothing coming called, JoyPIMP. Connect with me on Facebook to stay updated on my schedule and my new clothing line.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE THAT YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?
Yoga doesn’t have to be any one way—there are as many forms, styles and teachers of yoga as there are wild flowers. You shape the face of yoga by practicing it the way YOU want it to be—it’s a personal space that you create. The word “Namaste” speaks to the light within each of us—that inner knowing that tells you what to do, so learn to listen to it!
Thank you, Jamie, for taking the time to share the benefits of yoga for runners. I always enjoy your classes and I’m excited to get back to the studio!
Has yoga complimented your running? Please share your experience. See you on the yoga mat!
My next blog post in my “healthy running” series will explore the benefits of massage for runners. My first post shared Why Having Your Body Full of Needles is a Good Thing: The Benefits of Acupuncture for Runners.