Thursday, April 29, 2010

DISCOVER Yoga for Runners: Choosing the Right Gear

Not only is yoga a great cross-training platform for runners, it’s also become very accessible. Yoga studios have popped up all over the country. Your local gym or park district are likely offering affordable and convenient classes. But if you’re a runner and want to get the most out of your yoga practice, you’ll need to choose the right yoga props and gear.

For the most part, your equipment will depend on the specific style of yoga and what you expect from your workout. Common to all and the best place to start, though, is a quality yoga mat. Your yoga mat provides stability, helps keep your body aligned, and prevents you from slipping. And for runners, the right mat can deliver the cushion necessary to reduce the risk of injury to muscles and joints.

Thickness is important. Mats typically start at 1/8”, but consider an extra thick yoga mat for added cushion and comfort.

Many runners practice yoga to stretch out their muscles, increase flexibility, and improve their body alignment. Iyengar yoga, in particular, is ideal for runners and relies heavily on the use of props, such as blocks, straps, and yoga bolsters. Props make it easier to perform many yoga postures comfortably and without strain. Yoga blocks, for example, are usually positioned behind the heels or hips to help maintain proper form, ensure alignment, and hold poses longer.

At a certain point, and to get the most from your yoga practice, you’ll want to shop around and find the right yoga gear for you. But if you’re a runner and think that yoga can potentially take your performance to the next level, it’s more important that you just get started.