I’ll admit it.
I’m not really a yogi.
I find it hard not to get distracted by what I’m having for dinner, or add to my shopping list, plus I am so inflexible that I find it really hard.
But the type of yoga I have always enjoyed is a restorative style class, or Yin yoga. I used to go most Sunday evenings after my long run to a heated yin class and would often fall asleep!! Now that Hot Pod Yoga is in Reading, I’m keen to get to a class every week if possible especially as I start building speed and mileage for Valencia Marathon in December. (Bertie and I go to a Mum & Baby class but he’ll probably be too mobile for next term sadly!)
It’s no secret that running puts a strain on your muscles, regardless of whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned marathon runner. When you start running harder workouts or increasing your mileage, it’s common to experience muscle soreness for a few days. This soreness is often referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS is a result of micro-tears in the muscle fibres, which occur when you push your muscles beyond their usual limits.
DOMS typically disappears after a few days of rest and recovery (like foam rolling, using a massage gun, stretching). However, it can worsen when you repeatedly place stress on the same muscles without proper rest or recovery. And over time, this can lead to muscle imbalances, reduced muscle flexibility, and increased risk of injury.
Some of these issues can be easily corrected using proper recovery techniques, such as yoga. In this post, I’ll be explaining more on how Yin Yoga can be beneficial to runners.
Benefits of Yin Yoga For Runners
Yin Yoga is a form of yoga that focuses on slow, deep stretching and relaxation of the body. Unlike more traditional yoga practices that involve dynamic movements and muscular engagement, Yin Yoga targets the deep connective tissues, like fascia, ligaments, joints, and bones. This practice is designed to increase flexibility, improve circulation, and promote relaxation.
In a Yin Yoga session, you’re likely to see slower movements and long holds, with poses typically held for three to five minutes or longer. The emphasis is on listening to the body and allowing it to sink into the stretch over time, rather than pushing for maximum flexibility. This practice is also more meditative and introspective, with a focus on quieting the mind and tuning into physical sensations – meaning Yin Yoga has benefits for both physical and mental health.
Overall, Yin Yoga is a great option for anyone looking to increase their flexibility and relaxation, and for those who prefer a slower, more meditative approach to yoga.
Yin Yoga is a slow-paced style of yoga that involves holding poses for longer periods of time and can be a great complement to running. Its practice can be particularly beneficial for runners as it helps to:
Deepen stretching movements.
Yin Yoga poses are held for an extended period of time, usually around 3-5 minutes. This extended length of time while holding the poses allows the body to relax and stretch deeper into each pose. Runners who often experience tight muscles due to the repetitive nature of running will see the benefit that comes with this stretch.
Some runners tend to place most of their focus on high-intensity workouts while paying little or no attention to stretching and restorative exercises (I am definitely guilty!). This can eventually lead to muscle tightness and soreness, which then affects mobility, speed, and overall effectiveness. The deep stretches in Yin Yoga can help loosen these muscles in both the lower and upper body. Allowing for improved stride length and better performance on the road.
With Yin Yoga, runners can improve overall flexibility in the body, particularly in the hips, pelvis, and lower spine. These areas are very crucial because they are prone to stiffness which can be a big problem when you get on the road. Tight hip flexors, hamstrings, and quadriceps can limit a runner’s stride and speed.
Therefore, by increasing mobility, flexibility, and range of motion, Yin Yoga helps to enhance a runner’s performance. Yin Yoga is a restorative yoga style that allows the muscles to deeply relax and release tension, thereby promoting flexibility and can reduce the risk of injury.
Improve recovery period.
One of the main benefits of Yin Yoga for runners is improving recovery period. Long-distance running can cause micro-tears in the muscles, leading to soreness and inflammation post run. The recovery period for such can take multiple days depending on the severity.
By practicing Yin Yoga after a run, you get to speed up the healing process and alleviate muscle tension. This is because the practice helps you to sufficiently stretch the body in the affected areas and promote circulation. The bonus is you’re more likely to bounce back quickly for your next workout. If you’re in search of more ways to improve recovery time, see my tips in this post!
Release blocked energy.
Yin Yoga is based on the idea that certain energies can be stored or blocked in the body. By holding poses for an extended period of time, it is believed that these blockages can be freed and energy can flow more freely throughout the body. Some of these blocked energies are linked to pain and inflammation which means releasing them can help to alleviate pain and tension while improving overall well-being. I used to love going to a restorative yoga class on a Sunday night to help ease the Sunday Blues as an additional bonus after my long runs!
Increase elasticity in the muscles.
Connective tissues in the body help to increase elasticity in the muscles. Muscle elasticity is important for runners as it determines how often the muscle will be prone to tears. The more injuries a runner suffers, the higher the chances of more recurring injuries – something none of us want!
Yin Yoga stretches these connective tissues to further promote elasticity and build strength. With improved muscle elasticity, runners are less prone to muscle injuries which can help to improve overall performance.
The key to long-distance running is endurance. Runners with high endurance are more likely to finish long races without hitting the wall or stopping altogether. Without a good endurance base, its almost improssible to increase your speed over a long distance and therefore improving endurance is usually high on a runner’s list. Surprisingly Yin Yoga can help us improve endurance.
Though holding poses for several minutes in Yin Yoga can be challenging, it helps to train the body to tolerate discomfort and improve mental fortitude. Runners who practice Yin Yoga are likely to have a greater capacity for pushing their limits, leading to improved endurance on long runs. More thoughts on methods of building endurance for running here.
Increase blood flow/circulation.
Holding poses for an extended period of time can also help to improve blood flow and circulation in the body. This can be particularly helpful for runners who often experience reduced blood flow to the extremities due to the demands of endurance exercise (cold hands and feet anyone??)
Yin Yoga helps to improve running performance in a holistic way.
The practice can aid in recovery, enhance mobility and speed, and improve endurance. With Yin Yoga incorporated into a your training, you can reduce the risk of injury and improve overall performance. Plus it can
For more running tips & tricks, see my blog!