Last week, I tried out CorePower Yoga’s free week of classes for new clients. My primary motivations for heading to CorePower were pretty simplistic – free, warm, close – but I was also pretty curious to see if I fit the runner stereotype when it comes to yoga. You know the one- tight hips, can’t touch her toes, gets bored within five minutes. Sound like anyone you know?
Even if runners tend to pooh-pooh yoga (yes, I just used that phrase), the fact is that yoga can be essential to helping runners prevent injuries and improve their strength and flexibility – and heated yoga can do even more. For help demystifying hot yoga benefits for runners, I reached out to Joanna Taubeneck, the CorePower Yoga studio manager at Lincoln Park. Here’s what she had to say:
“Heated yoga aids in detoxifications processes—both physically and mentally. Physically, the heat warms our muscles up, allowing them to become more supple, long, and moveable; as the body moves more freely, internal organs are compressed and rinsed so that freshly oxygenated blood can flow. On a more superficial level—we SWEAT! Sweat cleanses our bodies from the inside out and rids us of any stuck toxins. The heat in the room reminds us of the Sanskrit word “tapas” which is defined as a kind of mental heat—a focus, concentration, and presence that allows us let go of thoughts that do not serve us and simply tap into the moment. This creates a mental and emotional detox, so to speak. Hence, why we feel so refreshed and renewed after hot yoga!
With regard to runners, heated yoga could not be MORE beneficial! I’m not a runner myself, but I do know that runners experience tight, shortened muscles because of the impact of foot against ground. Hot yoga postures helps these muscles lengthen, stretch, and recover, while also bringing the heart rate up as we move with our breath (yes, yoga is cardio!). The runner who is looking for a physical workout in addition to a good stretch would love C2—this vinyasa (flow) class is heated to about 95-98 degrees and is quicker in pace to ensure that students are constantly moving, and contains more restorative postures that will loosen tight muscles. The runner who craves a more meditative class would love Hot Power Fusion (HPF)—this class is even warmer than C2 with the temperature set to about 105 degrees. The class is much slower and comprised of postures that are held for longer increments of time, allowing the body to open up and feel completely stretched out after.
Postures I would recommend for runners are any standing forward folds— prasarita/wide legged, uttanasana/legs together or hips width distance apart, or pyramid pose (to target the hamstrings and calves), downward facing dog (to target the same leg muscles and also the achilles tendons), half pigeon (for the hips), and anjaneyasana/kneeling crescent lunge (for the psoas/hip flexors).”
It may not seem like a natural pairing, but hot yoga and runners actually go together like peanut butter and bananas (I hate jelly). Take advantage of the cold winter weather to give yourself a break from running and try your hand (and the rest of your body) at hot yoga. Your hips, hamstrings, and calves will thank you come springtime.