The benefits of yoga for runners, dancers and bootcampers

Manly Yoga

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Manly’s most social boot camp isn’t just about the burpees and hill sprints!

OzSquad’s resident yogi, Anna Walker, teaches a gentle flow and restorative yoga session every Monday at 7 PM in Manly Community Centre. In the latest OzSquad blog, Anna tells us the benefits of yoga for runners, dancers and boot campers alike – Manly Yoga.


The benefits of yoga for runners, dancers and boot campers

The benefits of a regular yoga practice are many. Whether you are 20 or 60, dancer or runner, yoga offers a 360-degree discipline that yields tangible physical and mental benefits that can only be realised through showing up and doing the work. If you are a runner or any other form of athlete and have been watching from the sidelines with curious cynicism for a while now, the following points may provide the necessary impetus to get you out of your head and on to the mat to give yoga a go.


Increased Flexibility

Aside from the still widespread (even in Manly where yoga studios abound) stigma of yoga not qualifying as ‘exercise’ and only being for vegan hippies, many runners are reluctant to try yoga because they fear they aren’t flexible enough. Logic might then ask: could you run a marathon before you started training for one?

Increased flexibility is not a pre-requisite to yoga, but rather an outcome of regular practice. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you will be able to do the splits in this lifetime, but you will notice a sense of moving deeper into postures over time. Due to yoga stretching the muscles that are tight in the body which, in turn, increases the range of motion in related joints. Greater joint mobility, means less stiffness and less general aches and pains.


Muscular Tone & Strength

As effective as running may be, this form of mechanical exercise uses the muscles from the hips down. A balanced yoga practice, on the other hand, involves and strengthens the entire body, including the arms, upper torso and abdominals. Yoga also draws on our body weight to create resistance, working against gravity to build healthy muscle and bone which are crucial for overall health.

Beyond the muscular body, all of the body’s vital systems are worked in yoga, too, including the cardiovascular, respiratory, skeletal, and endocrine systems. Even the internal organs are massaged and oxygenated through yogic breathing and movement through the many Asana, or postures.


Boosted Energy Levels

Many forms of exercise, including long distance running and boot camps, can deplete the body of its energy stores. The process of yoga, alternatively, serves to oxygenate the blood, creating a feeling of restoration and rejuvenation. In this regard, yoga provides a vehicle through which the body can actively recover from the physical demands of running and the other exercise you do.


Improved Breathing

Lung capacity is critical for runners because it creates the ability to maintain an even breathing pattern through all phases of running. However, the breathing pattern commonly used in running and other forms of aerobic exercise involves quick and shallow inhalations and exhalations. This method of breathing uses only the top portion of the lungs, leaving the middle and lower portions untouched.

Yogic breathing involves slow, deep inhalations and long exhalations, making use of the upper, middle, and lower portions of the lungs. Yogic breathing has been shown to improve lung capacity resulting in increased endurance and overall athletic performance. Importantly, deep breathing releases tension, reduces stress and anxiety and physically helps the body ease into poses, particularly the more challenging ones. Breath is the cornerstone of any yoga practice!


In summary, whatever your chosen discipline, you too can benefit from integrating and balancing this with a regular yoga practice. Be your goal better flexibility, muscular tone and strength, an uplift in energy and lung capacity, the benefits are tangible and more accessible than you may realise. Give it a try! OzSquad Yoga, Mondays at 7 PM in Manly Community Centre.

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