With the Chicago Marathon just behind us, running has been a popular topic of conversation. It is safe to say that running and yoga are like apples and oranges. They both benefit the body but in very different ways. Can a strenuous, hard on the joints, injury laden sport come together with yoga?! The answer is undoubtedly YES!
Runners are most in need of the stretching that comes in yoga. Runners are hardly ever the most flexible in the room. But since you do the same twenty-six postures every time, it's quite eye-opening to be able see tiny transformations little by little. Plus Bikram yoga is not just your typical yoga; the hotter atmosphere allows will your muscles and joints to be more flexible, so holding the postures for an extended period of time will go further for increasing your flexibility than doing the same workout in a moderate temperature climate.
Runners know sweat; runners know that sweating is a very detoxifying, purifying process that leaves you feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated. Many runners I have encountered feel that by not sweating in yoga, they are not exercising enough. With Bikram that is not the case; there is no shortage of sweat. The class is also 90 minutes so endurance is an added benefit. Your muscles gain stamina as most of the postures are held for an extended period of time.
A strong body core has shown to improve the form needed to become a successful long distance runner. Bikram yoga’s attention to core strength and spine health and flexibility is ideal for a runner. Core strength keeps the runner in balance for a proper stride form, and is especially important for trail running, where uneven terrain requires agility and taxes the core.
I can speak from experience. I am a runner. I am a Bikram yogi too. With running I ask so much of my body, but with Bikram yoga I felt like I was giving something back. And I had a good workout in the meant time! Bikram yoga makes me feel reenergized, both immediately and in the days and months that I continue to take classes. My tight hamstrings and hips began to open up and my running stride improved, and after longer runs my knees do not ache as much. Over time I have also felt that Bikram helped increase my lung capacity, by expanding my rib cage. And my times have improved!
While Bikram yoga and running may be like apples and oranges, together they make a great fruit salad!
Lynsdey Hemmesch is an instructor at Bikram Yoga Burr Ridge in Burr Ridge.