For most people, running and yoga are complete opposites when it comes to fitness training and exercising.
But more recently, an increasing number of athletes and fitness enthusiasts are discovering that these two activities complement each other significantly and are a great combination when it comes to cross-training.
Some top fitness coaches are now incorporating yoga into their athletes’ strength and fitness training programs.
As a result, more runners are taking up aerial yoga, to minimize the risk of running-related injuries and promote their mental stamina.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of aerial yoga for runners and how to incorporate into your training.
Benefits of Aerial Yoga for Runners
Whether you are a casual runner or professional marathoner, aerial yoga comes with numerous physical and mental benefits.
Here are the major benefits of incorporating aerial yoga into your training..
Aerial Yoga Increases Flexibility
A major benefit of incorporating yoga hammock workouts into your training routine is the increased flexibility. Yoga swing poses such as the downward-facing dog will improve your body’s flexibility, thus increasing your range of motion.
And an increased range of motion translates to longer strides and running at higher speeds. Also, an increased range of motion can help to minimize common running injuries such as sprained ankles, muscle pulls, hamstring injuries, plantar fasciitis and runner’s knee, among others.
Furthermore, doing some simple aero yoga workouts before a race will get the blood flowing into your muscles and joints, thus supplying the nutrients and oxygen needed to sustain you throughout the race.
Builds a Strong Core
Yoga swing poses such as the swing warrior pose are great for core strengthening and proper spine alignment. They can also help to strengthen your hip flexors, glutes and abdominal muscles, or which are part of your core.
So, why do runners need a strong core?
Well, core muscles are what produces the stability for your power generating muscles such as your Quads and will keep your torso upright, thus reducing wobbling or losing your balance.
Furthermore, a strong core will allow your hips, pelvis as well as your lower back to work together more effectively, thus minimizing rocking. And this minimizes the amount of energy expended.
If you are a long-distance runner, improving your core strength will pay huge dividends.
Towards the end of long-distance races, fatigue sets in and most runners begin to lose their form; and poor form will not only slow you down but may also increase the likelihood of getting an injury.
Therefore, building up core strength using a combination of yoga swing poses and conventional workout programs will help you to maintain proper posture, all the while minimizing the risk of potential injuries.
Helps to Reduce Muscle Imbalances
Running is a repetitive activity that involves tightening and shortening of some muscles. The problem is, most athletes don’t pay attention to loosening and elongating the muscles in a restorative manner.
And without the loosening and restorative work, your body will eventually compensate by putting stress on the joints, and other muscles to take the load.
With time, your muscles will be forced to work harder due to the imbalance, and they will become tighter.
Tight muscles are inflexible and weak. Considering that muscles generally act as the body’s shock absorber, they should be flexible and supple.
Tight muscles cause your joints to grind together, making them prone to undue wear and tear or even injury.
This is where aerial yoga comes in!
If you are a runner, you can use yoga swing poses to practice strength, balance, flexibility and range of motion. Eventually, your body and mind will be integrated in all actions and you will no longer experience the imbalances.
Increases Body Awareness
Besides helping to alleviate the physical strains of running, aerial yoga is great for awakening body awareness.
With this awareness, you will come to carry your body in better from as you are running, each stride balanced and in alignment, preventing such things as “runner’s knee” and so on.
And as you develop a better understanding of your body as well as how it functions, you will be able to respond to the signals the body sends your brain.
For instance, when you are running, the body produces a hormone known as endorphin, which can cover pain as well as the onset of illnesses or injuries.
But with the increased awareness that yoga swing poses teach you, you will know when to go slow on your workouts, to minimize the occurrence of injuries.
Aerial Yoga can assist you in cultivating mental focus.
Furthermore, aerial yoga can help your mind to stay calm. It’s common for runners to feel like giving up, especially when the going gets tough. Pushing through that next lap, that next kilometer..
But when you incorporate aerial yoga into your training routine, it will help you to remain calm and focus on your breath as you take each step after the next, instead of getting caught up in your critical mind.
Yoga Breathing Boosts Lung Capacity
Yoga training often involves meditation and controlled breathing, which is popularly known as pranayama or yogic breathing. When you do it consistently, this breathing practice will help to conserve your energy and boost your lungs.
And as you probably know, improved lung capacity will enable you to maintain a stable breathing pattern, whether you are doing a short distance run or a marathon.
Furthermore, improved breathing capacity translates to more oxygen for your muscles, leading to greater endurance.
So, if you are working on improving your lung capacity, incorporating mindful breathing exercises into your aerial yoga will go a long way in helping you to accomplish your goal.
Eases Pain and Tension
If you suffer from an injury either when training during a race, restorative yoga can help to ease the pain while helping you to recover fast.
Restorative yoga uses props to support your entire body when you are holding various yoga poses, thus helping you to hold them longer. And as you hold the poses for extended periods, your body will experience deeper relaxation, leading to faster recovery.
Furthermore, restorative aerial yoga will gently and slowly stretch and open your muscles, joints and tissues.
So, if you are suffering from overuse injuries, restorative yoga can help to ease the pain and tension in your muscles and joints while promoting faster recovery.
Incorporating Aerial Yoga Into Your Training
There are numerous ways of incorporating aerial yoga into your training. First, you can use aerial yoga as a cross-training workout during your non-running days.
However, you need to be cautious not to engage in intensive yoga swing workouts the day before a competitive – or long run.
In case you want to do a yoga swing workout the same day as your runs, then you should only do the yoga poses after the run.
Also, you should keep your yoga sessions short. Doing an intensive aerial yoga workout before your run will tire your muscles, and this may alter your form.
And as noted earlier, a poor running form will eventually lead to injuries.
If you have to do yoga swing workouts on the same day as your run, then you should ensure you have enough recovery time in between the two activities.
Also, ensure you hydrate sufficiently and eat the right foods for both activities.
For stretching post-run and strength training, you should get do a short yoga workout of 15 to 30 minutes. And if it’s a cross-training workout during your off-running days, then you should target a one-hour session.
Best Aerial Yoga Poses for Runners
So, which are the best aerial yoga poses for runners? Well, the answer will depend on your goals. For instance, if you are looking for an intensive, sweaty workout, then you should opt for Vinyasa yoga sequences.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a post-workout poses, then you should opt for relaxation/restorative poses.
Having said that, here are some of the best aerial yoga poses for runners:
Downward Facing Dog
The downward-facing dog is one of the most popular aerial yoga poses. And runners who want to incorporate yoga into their training should master this pose.
The downward-facing dog will open up and stretch your legs, back and arms.
Inverted Pigeon Pose
The inverted pigeon pose is an effective yoga hammock pose, designed to stretch the connective tissue that runs from the hip to the shin, popularly known as the IT band.
Also, this pose can help to minimize knee injuries and issues.
The child pose is a gentle, comforting pose, which will stretch your knees, hips, ankles, thighs and low back. Furthermore, it will release neck and back strains, while boosting blood flow to the spine and brain.
If you are a runner, this pose will help to keep your ankles supple and flexible. Also, it will stretch your feet and shins, thus helping to prevent shin splints.
Most athletes suffer from tight hips. And this can prevent you from performing to your optimal standards. Tight hips can also lead to low back and knee problems. And this is where aerial lunges come in.
They will help to stretch your thighs and groins, thus helping to alleviate tight hips.
Aerial Yoga For Runners
Aerial yoga presents numerous benefits for runners. The most important thing is to try the different poses and then choose something that works best for your running style and training routine.
Whether you use it as part of your warm-up or cool-down routine, aerial yoga can promote muscle strength, increased lung capacity, and faster recovery.
It will also reduce overuse injuries, which are quite common among athletes.