Are yoga and running opposites?
As summer approaches more and more people take up running. Sometimes I think yoga and running are opposites – as in yoga we aim to ‘do no harm’ yet with running so many people harm themselves. Why? They run with poor posture. The eyes may be level, but the body below may compress in the upper back and neck, the lumbar, or at the hips and knees.
Yes, we all need to exercise. And if you hate gyms it is best to choose something you can do elsewhere. However, the high rate of injury to runners is a concern. When students come to me with two bad knees it is usually because they have been running. When they come with two bad knees AND two bad hips it is because they have been running marathons! Often it is believed that to improve our cardiovascular endurance we need to run. Yet Yoga can also be cardio-vascular. With current media pressure ‘to be thin’ sometimes people feel it’s the quickest way to lose weight. New mums start running without strengthening their pelvic floors or abdominal muscles which can cause permanent damage. For various reasons, many of us are better suited to low impact exercise.
The feel-good factor
I think we need to look beyond the ‘feel-good factor’ which can be very short-lived. It is the adrenaline that gives us a short term high. It is the same addictive feeling that really fast-paced Yoga classes can give. It is not sustainable in the long term without a counterbalance. With Iyengar Yoga, the feel-good factor is more of a slow-release that builds up over time. As long as we work carefully- as we do in Iyengar yoga – it gives us long term benefits, that are far healthier for us. The added benefit is the effect Yoga has on our minds as it is much more than simply another form of exercise.
This article gives an athlete’s honest opinion on Iyengar yoga: http://www.active.com/fitness/articles/iyengar-the-ideal-yoga-for-athletes