Running can be really tough, especially if you’re a first timer. Getting into the groove and building up those muscles can seem almost impossible, but it isn’t!
Interestingly, doing other forms of exercise can really help you start your cardio journey. Interestingly enough, yoga can be one of the best ways for you to build muscle and flexibility, strengthen your breathing and even prevent you from injuring yourself whilst running. Here’s why Yoga will make you a better runner.
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Strength:
By building up your strength on the mat and developing your key muscles like the core, hamstrings, quads and hip flexors, you’re more likely to stay injury free when out on a run. It can also maintain good posture and back health, as stretches like down dog and cat cow can reduce pain in the spine.   
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Breathing:
In yoga, breathing is a vital part of your practice and learning to maintain your breath whilst in challenging positions can be difficult. Through this practice of regulating your breath you become more aware of your body and consolidate a relaxed state of mind. Building up your lung capacity through breath control in yoga can help you an infinite amount when you're running. You’ll be able to increase your oxygen intake naturally and reduce anxiety with breath control. Most of the time in running, the issue can be your mind, not your body.
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Heart:
Intense yoga, like Power Yoga or Hot Yoga can do wonders to strengthen your heart. By improving your fitness through challenging postures in yoga, you’re building your heart into a stronger muscle. Common sense says that stronger muscles are inherently good, that’s undeniable. The heart will work better by pumping blood around your body more efficiently and allowing you to work better under stress, it’s a no brainer.
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Flexibility and Posture:
By maintaining poses for long periods of time in yoga, you're building elasticity in your muscles and joints, which will enable you to move with more freedom and grace. The mental challenge of holding a pose in yoga also translates into running when you’re fighting to maintain your concentration on putting one foot in front of the other. Good flexibility and posture will not only lower your risk of injury, but will also give you more freedom of movement to allow you to carry on and not give up. Loosening up those muscles after having not done any exercise for a while can be tough! Stretching is key.
  
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Mental Health:
Yoga allows you to build a stronger relationship between the mind and body. Sometimes stillness can be as powerful a tool as movement; stillness in yoga can be just as strengthening as 10 minutes on a treadmill. By exercising mindful breathing and focusing on the present, you are training your mind to push the limits and forgetting your daily worries and anxieties.
It’s so important to recognise that you are not a machine; learn to accept that some days, your body will allow itself to be pushed harder than on other days. Be kind to yourself and accept that it might take awhile before you can master the crow or run 10k.
It’s important to note, that whilst yoga can soften your muscles after a long run or get you limber before a sprint, you shouldn’t push yourself too much on both at once. There are millions of yoga tutorials out there, ranging from a relaxed class to a more vigorous Power Yoga Flow. If you’re pushing yourself running, then perhaps a beginner’s Hatha Yoga would suit better to stretch and take care of your body. However, if you’re looking to strengthen your muscles and become a serious yogi, then an intermediate Vinyasa Yoga could be an excellent choice. 
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Yoga flow for stretching with @madss
A daily stretch flow with our lovely @madss to help you become supple and fluid…
 

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