Wednesday, April 28, 2010

DISCOVER Yoga for Runners: Where to Begin

Runners across the country are turning to yoga to help increase flexibility, improve their performance, reduce the risk of injury, and find the right mental balance. But while yoga really can be the perfect complement to a daily routine, there are several different styles of yoga from which to choose. Some center around meditation and relaxation, while others offer a more intense, aerobic workout.

Hatha yoga, for example, is one of the more traditional forms of yoga and probably the best place to start. Hatha is a lot more relaxed, with a focus on basic postures, and can enhance breathing and flexibility. And it’s among the most accessible. Runners can check out classes at the local yoga studio or gym and get started right away.

Iyengar yoga works every part of your body and lengthens your muscles though properly aligned poses. Relying heavily on props---such as yoga blocks, bolsters, and straps---Iyengar is both physically and mentally challenging, but probably the best style to reduce the potential for running-related injuries.

Want something a little more rigorous? Ashtanga or vinyasa (flow) yoga consists of a series of more demanding poses, all of which flow together to test your physical limits. Similarly, power yoga has become very popular and provides an equally intense and more aerobic workout. Though flow and power yoga styles are great for enhancing performance and endurance, they’re likely not the best options for beginners.

There are several other prominent yoga styles and plenty of variations on each. But the key is simply getting started. Look for a local class or studio, check out resources online, and experiment until you find the right yoga style for you.