Yoga is an ancient practice which has not only physical and emotional benefits but helps in spiritual growth. In this article, we will highlight the benefits of yoga physical aspect of our body. We are going to share the 7 yoga poses which will target the core of your body and help you in becoming a better runner in the process.
It is essential to have a strong core which is the muscles of the abdominals, the lower back, glutes and obliques and it is quite important to prevent injuries as well as fatigue in runners.
The core muscles are important for developing a better running form as well as posture which stops you from bending at the waist region especially when the fatigue begins to set in. This can assist you immensely to ward off any back pain as well as a host of other biomechanical problems. A strong core will help you in avoiding back pain as well as improving the running form along with the posture. It will also boost the athletic performance of yours and make running feel much easier.
A strong core is also quite crucial in keeping the pelvis stable which helps in avoiding lateral motion which can often lead to IT band problems as well as other injuries. Let’s admit that nothing feels spectacular than having a toned and lean stomach.
Yoga for Your Core
When it comes to best workouts for the strengthening of the core a runner can do, the yoga is one of them. There are lots of benefits of yoga when it comes to runner from different training as well as fitness backgrounds.
Yoga can also increase the total body strength without actually building the muscle bulk in the body. Yoga can strengthen and tone the core muscles significantly while making a minimum impact and in the most convenient and comfortable way possible. It only requires a good surface like a yoga mat and your own body weight, and you are good to go.
Adding yoga to your fitness regime can strengthen your body, and the strength moves to the repertoire in order to reduce the risks of injury as well as boost the success in the running field whether you are running on a treadmill, a trail or on the street.
You just have to take merely 15 to 20 minutes in a day for three to four times a week in order to build your core strength with the help of these simple core asanas. The sequence consists of 7 powerful yoga postures to fire up and also strengthen all of the core muscles.
Before you start your core yoga sequence, you need to warm up your body. Start with few cat-cow stretches in order to get the core muscles worked up and ready to go. Just arch back on the inhale and then round the spine on the exhale. That is all you have to do. Make sure that you keep the stomach tucked in through the entire movement.
1. Phalaksana (Plank Pose)
This asana is quite known in the yogic circles also called as plank asana which tones most of the core muscles. It builds the upper body as well as low back strength and also lengthens the spine.
How to Do
First, you need to assume a push-up position with your hands as well as knees with shoulder width apart, and your fingers spread wide apart while the middle finger is pointing forward. The toes should be tucked under, pressing into the palms with your straight arms.
Now form a straight line from the head to the ankles by keeping your tailbone tucked under and then engage the core muscles in order to keep the pelvis torso both steady and firm. There shouldn’t be any sagging.
In order to keep the legs active through the hold, you need to ensure that you press with the heels toward the mat’s back.
While maintaining the neck soft as well as gazing down at the floor, keep holding the plank position for nearly two to three minutes before moving your body into the next asana. Lift the skull’s base away from the back of the neck and then gaze down the floor.
In order to bring your body out of this pose, you need to slowly bend the knees to the floor in order to assume the child pose, and then you can move on to the next asana.
2. Virabhadrasana (Warrior III )
This asana will not only help you in sculpting the core muscles of your body but will also tone the body from your head to toes. It also strengthens the muscles of shoulders, arms, back and leg. It is for moving to the excellence of the total body.
This asana is especially impactful for improving the core coordination, awareness as well as balance. You need to put all the weight on your leg which will challenge the balance as well as core power of the body like nothing else.
In case you are not using the fire up of your core muscles in a proper way to stabilize yourself for this pose, then you may lose the balance and tip over.
How to Do
First, you have to stand with your feet together in the middle of the mat’s surface.
Now, you inhale as you are all set to gaze on a particular fixed point, engaging your abs and then shifting your weight on the right leg. Then you come into Warrior 3, bend forward at the hips, and then by lifting the left leg straight, you need to straighten the arms out to the sides at the height of your shoulder. For more challenge, you can also reach the hands in forward position.
Keep holding this position for about 30 seconds to one full. To come out of this pose, you need to slowly lower the left leg to the mat’s surface and then go back to the standing position and make the switch.
It is also known as elbow plank which is a variation of the plank, while you rest on the elbow at this time. This particular asana target more of the abs muscles along with lesser strain on the shoulders and the arms.
This is particularly great asana for the runners as it targets the core in entirety along with helping to improve the posture and add strength to stabilizer muscles.
How to Do
First, you need to start by simply lying down on the floor while resting the upper body on the forearms with the elbows kept right under the shoulders while your palms are firmly grounded.
Next, you come into the Makarasana, raise the hips towards the ceiling and then come onto the toes’ tips while staying on the forearms.
You need to ensure that you maintain a straight line from your heels to head by keeping the back flat as well as abs engaged throughout this hold.
Hold this particular pose for nearly two to three minutes and then lower down and then move on to the next asana.
4. Vasisthasana (Balancing Star)
This is the third variation of the plank. This asana targets the side core muscles mainly- which are also called the obliques, as well as strengthen the glutes, thighs, arms and shoulders.
It also challenges the balance of your body like no other asana, with exception of Warrior III.
How to Do
You have to start in the classic plank position, and then you need to roll open to the right side and then raise the left hand off the floor and then stack the left leg and right leg. Then shift to face the mat’s side with the weight equally distributed between the right arm and the right foot.
You need to ensure that you keep the shoulders, hips and spine in a straight line from ankle to the head.
You can stay in this position balancing on the right hand with the feet being stacked. But in order to come into the entire version of this pose, raise your left foot up as higher you can get and reach the arm to the ceiling as higher and straighter as you can without losing your balance. Make sure you keep a straight line from your ankles to the head.
For more taking more challenge in the balance, try to look up to your top hand.
Hold this pose for a minute while keeping your core engaged as well as pose steady throughout this particular hold. To come down, lower your body to classic plank and then switch the sides.
5. Naukasana (Boat Pose)
This is among the simplest yoga posture with only one purpose of sculpting as well as toning the abdominals. This asana engages the deep abs muscles and also improve the running posture as well as the stability.
How to Do
Start with sitting on the surface while keeping the legs in the front.
Next, you need to bend your knees and then left the legs off the mad and then lean back a bit in order to balance on your sit bone. Now bring your knees in towards the chest while keeping the thighs at a right angle to the floor as well as shins parallel to the floor.
To do this pose right, you need to make sure that you sit as tall as you can and then start slowly to straighten the legs and then bring the arms out in line with the shoulders which forms a “V” shape with the body.
Hold this position for one to two minutes and then take enough time to slowly lower down your body to the floor.
6. Chakravakasana (Sunbird Pose)
This is another asana which strengthens your core muscles and helps you in getting better posture for running.
How to Do
Start with the table top pose and then reach forward with the right arm just like the way you are going to shake someone’s hand and then raise the left leg up while holding it parallel to the floor.
Make sure to engage the core muscles while you do your best in order to pull the extended limbs further away from each other.
Now, bring your knee towards the chest while you curl the right elbow to the left knee while exhaling as if you are crunching. Then inhale and start extending the arm forward and leg back.
Continue this motion for nearly 15 repetitions, and then switch sides.
7. Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
This asana is ideal when it comes to strengthening the lower back along with the muscles which surround the spine’s back as well as abdominals and improves the posture.
It is a great spine opener, and it can assist you in undoing the hunching effects due to running as well as building better posture, both on and off the field of running.
How to Do
Begin with lying on the stomach on the floor while your arms along your torso’s sides. Then, place the hands, palms faced down, right next to the chest along with the elbows bent.
Next, you have to raise the chest off the mat by simply using the back muscles only, curving the spine upwards and then lifting the legs off the floor using the inner thighs upwards to the direction of the ceiling as you reach the crown of the head up as higher as you can do it.
Now, we have mentioned all top 7 yoga poses for runners, we would like to mention three advanced yoga tips for runners. They are:
You know that the breath’s normal habits let you notice when there is any particular problem and to take the necessary steps in order to correct them. How does the breath coordinate with the strike of the foot at an easy pace? At a tempo or mile pace? How many steps do you actually take when you are inhaling? Which foot is striking when you are exhaling? You may find it quite surprising that you don’t know the answers to these questions.
On you next running, pay attention to bow your breathing relates to your stride and running pace, answering you the above questions. Then, in times, when you feel flustered, then compare the current breath of yours during the successful runs. Maybe then you will find the key to restore the sense of ease you are looking for.
The word mantra in Sanskrit translates to “instrument of thought”. The particular repetition of a mantra assists in harnessing and concentrating our thinking brain, and it can also assist in routing into flow state- that is the runner’s high. Sometimes the mantra’s words are meaningful, and sometimes they aren’t. The words’ meaning is less important than the repetition of them.
In case you have ever drawn power and strength from the music while you are running, especially the music that you keep remembering rather than passively listening to it, you get the similar experience that you have with the mantra. When you put off the music and repeat the line or two of that particular mantra to yourself over and over again, you are sharpening the experience with the mantra. You don’t need to curse yourself next time a mantra gets “stuck” in your mind on a run. Rather than that, see if you can use those lines of mantra to assist you in carrying into a focused as well as the relaxed state.
The drishti or the gazing point is actually the anchor of the awareness of yours. In the asana practice’s context, drishti assists in directing the focus on a fixed point, the floor in an arm balance, or the core in the Downward-Facing Dog, or the wall in the standing balance postures. Similar to that, using drishti on the run also helps in fasting your attention to one particular thing. It sharpens your mental focus in this particular way and brings all the awareness to the task you are doing, instead of getting derailed by any kind of outside distractions.
You might be already using this method when you are telling yourself that you need to run hard to a milestone or a finish line. Setting your eyesight or gaze on that particular object links you to that particular thing which creates an energy boost that helps you in moving forward. This can be quite helpful when you are doing track workouts, in part since they are quite intense and in part that the footing isn’t that much tricky. Learning to steady the gaze on one particular object or even as your body moves through space, is an example of the dharana process or single-pointed concentration.
When you are on a trail run, the trail becomes the object of the drishti, your moving focal point. In order to avoid falling, we have to become aware of each rock and root on the path and pass over them carefully. This echoes the dhyana process or the meditative awareness. We generally notice the objects that lie on the path, instead of investigating them by stopping, or evaluating them, we pass over them.
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