Lace up your trainers and prepare to stretch — the new fusion workout includes running and yoga, says Susannah Butter
There has been a union of tribes in London’s parks. Where runners and yogis once eyed each other up from separate corners, they have seen that they are stronger together and are combining to work both cardiovascular and core strength, and improve flexibility.
On July 19, the world’s first yoga run will take place in Battersea Park, organised by a group called Glöanna. It begins by getting the heart pumping with a 5k run. Afterwards, the yoga aspect provides the ultimate warm-down and promises to ensure you “keep your glö” with a 45-minute vinyasa fix. They are planning an event in New York too and all the exercise is followed by a reward — prosecco and sushi.
But it was Australia where run-ga, or yog-ning, first took off. These early adopters wised up to the benefits of following up a run with some spiritual stretching long ago — all done on the beach. While we don’t have the constant sunshine, we can still harness some of the goodness of this mash-up.
As anyone who has pounded the streets of the city will know, running gives a fantastic boost to cardiovascular health, as well as being an efficient full body workout. But there are drawbacks — the impact of the foot striking the ground means that while runners are fit, many of them suffer from bad backs, tight hamstrings and sore knees. This is not caused by the running itself but the imbalances it causes in the body. And that’s where the bending comes in. Yoga teacher Laura Denham-Jones explains: “Many runners come to yoga for a good, long, slow stretch. With running muscles can feel tight or overused, particularly if there are any postural imbalances. Yoga uses a variety of movements which can help balance strength with mobility and prevent injury.”
If it all sounds like too much exercise, don’t panic — if you are doing your paschimottanasana (seated forward bend) properly it’s likely you won’t be able to think of anywhere you would rather be. Denham-Jones says: “Runners may also find they benefit from learning to work with their breath, to conserve energy by moving without unnecessary tension, and to balance work with rest and not push through injury. These concepts may come as an unexpected bonus on top of the desired hamstring stretch.”
Those who prefer to do their running solo can still benefit from a class later on. The Triyoga centre has a Yoga for Runners class to help maximise athletic potential. But if you want the whole thing to be social, Hot Bikram has a Yoga Run Club at its London Bridge and Balham studios, where they follow a run with a stretch in a warm room and a class.
So next time you finish your run, don’t immediately collapse on the sofa. Take some deep breaths and strike a pose.
WHERE TO RUN AND BEND
Glöanna London, from £41, July 19, 8am-3pm, Battersea Park, SW11, gloanna.com
Yoga for Runners, £15, Sundays 5.15-6.30pm, Triyoga Chelsea, 372 King’s Road, SW3, triyoga.co.uk
Yoga Run Club, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, free for Hot Bikram Yoga students, Balham and London Bridge, hotbikramyoga.co.uk
Source: London Evening Standard