Sit down and stretch if you want to get up and run
“Truth is that yoga is a practice that will support you at any stage of life. When you are young, in your 20s, the body repairs faster from strain. But once you are in your 30s and 40s, tight muscles get tighter and others get weaker, this imbalance inevitably leads to chronic pain and injury. Pain will stop you from doing what you love long term. Long-term yoga practice can bring the body into balance so that you can continue to run and do sport for many years to come.”
Is it something people can do at home as well as in a class?
“Absolutely. Once you know what to do, the only thing you need to practise yoga is your body. Eventually most people continue with a home practice and incorporate yoga into their daily exercise.”
Do you recommend people replace a running session with yoga, or do it in conjunction with their running programme?
“It might be good to replace an easy run day with a yoga session. This will give the body and muscles the opportunity to restore. A longer yoga practice will allow you to go deeper, and work on the tighter muscles and weaker areas. It will also give you the opportunity to gain ‘body wisdom’ – learn how the body works and how to take care of it by spotting the source of the imbalance or strain. This is a skill that comes with practise.
“Ideally, you want to incorporate some yoga within each training session. For example, start to incorporate yoga in the warm-up and cool-down of your programme. The beauty is that the technique you learn in yoga and the principles of alignment can be applied to any stretch to make it efficient.”
What are some basic positions that you recommend?
“I would focus on poses that lengthen leg muscles, series of hamstring, quads and calf muscle stretches. Hip openers are important and core strength is essential.
“In general, standing yoga poses are a great way to start. They build strength and it’s easier to access tight leg muscles and hips. A good yoga pose will integrate all of the different body parts together in balanced action. You engage and extend the body as one.
Kanta Barrios’s Yoga Fundamentals Course for runners, kantabarriosyoga.com