Bring Your Yoga on Your Run


I’m not talking about busting out some yoga moves during your run, but if that’s your jam, go for it! Personally, I’m usually too focused on wanting to finish to stop and bust out some yoga moves.

YTT isn’t just about learning yoga posture and how to string them together and cue them; it’s about how to live a yogic life. Which could fill many blog posts.

Fairytales and Fitness

I found myself thinking about how yoga had naturally crept into my runs during a recent run, and the idea for this post was born. I do get some great ideas for blog posts on the run! Sometimes I even remember them.

It’s always a good reminder!

Just breathe
I even have a Momentum bracelet with that motto. If you’ve ever attended a yoga class, no doubt at some point the teacher told you to breathe. Maybe multiple times during the class.

Breathing is good. It helps us shuttle some oxygen to our hard working muscles, hopefully allowing them to go a little further and faster. Form in running and alignment in Yoga are all about creating more space in our spine, allowing us to take deeper breaths.

When you’re tired you probably slump down. Stand up; let your back slump. Now try to take a deep breath. Not happening, right?

Now pay attention to your breath
Your Yoga teacher probably also tells you to pay attention to your breath. If it get short and choppy or shallow, you’ve gone too deep into your pose; you need to back off.

If you’re running and your breath gets short and choppy, it may definitely may mean that you are pushing the pace. If it’s an easy run, you’ve pushed too hard. If it’s a race, especially if you’re just starting, you may not want to back off (although maybe you should), but at the very least you want to bring attention to your breath and see if you can take deeper, more relaxed breaths.

The M Word
Yup, I’m talking about meditation. Many, many posts could be written about meditation, but there’s a simple way to turn your run into a more meditative experience. It started for me with my dog walks during our course work on meditation. I’ve actually had a regular meditation practice for the last few years (ironically enough that sort of flew out the window with my YTT), but I notice when I have and haven’t meditated.

We learned a very simple meditation: repeating SA on the inhale, and HUM on the exhale. In a nutshell, it reminds you that you are connected to the universe. When you breath in thinking “Sa” you are bringing in energy; when you breathe out thinking “Hum” you are letting go of your ego.

I started to do that on my dog walks. At first it seemed pretty difficult to keep that up the majority of the walk, but I must say for the most part, I noticed being calmer when I did and also enjoyed my dogwalks more.

Lately I’ve even found myself turning off t he radio in the car. I find more peace by breathing deeply. I’m not saying I’m always completely zen while driving, but it does help.

I’ve taken that on the run with me, too — seriously, who couldn’t use some more energy on the run, and probably need to release some ego (you can read my post about ego and running here)?  I don’t do it the whole run, although I bet it would greatly benefit me. Several times throughout a mile I check in with my breathing, and think to myself SA on the inhale through my nose, HUM on the exhale through my mouth.

Practice body scanning
This is something I’ve done for years — it can take your mind off a seemingly-never ending run, and help you see if there’s anywhere in your body that needs some attention (adjusting your form, breathing into a tight spot, and so on).

Lately I’ve been really noticing my feet. As you run, think about how your foot is contacting the earth. Not so much whether you’re heel striking or not, but think about the top of your sole on the pinky side and the big toe side, then think about the middle of your heel.

Are you rolling more to your pinky side, or your big toe side? Can you flatten out a little so that your foot is more grounded? How are you striking front to back? Is your whole foot pointing out to one side? Wouldn’t it be great if you could fix things like over pronation just by thinking about where your feet are connecting to the earth?

You can do a slow scan of your whole body, but pay particular attention to your calves, hamstrings, knees, hips, core, and shoulders (are they coming up to your ears? Relax those shoulders to get rid of some unnecessary muscle tension, elongate your spine, and yes, take a deep breath).

Do you ever scan your body while running?

Do you think observing your breath could help your running?

Do you ever think about yoga when you’re not on the mat?

24 thoughts on “Bring Your Yoga on Your Run

  1. Oh I like SA HUM, I’ve immediately started doing that in my office chair. Thank you! I’m going through a difficult and medicated journey right now and need all the yoga calm I can get. I’m going back to my class today but am going to have to warn my teacher I will undoubtedly fall asleep during relaxation …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s one of the things we discussed in training, what to do when people fall asleep in savasana — it happens, so it’s not just you! I’m sorry you’re going through a difficult time.

      Is your cat doing better? I hope that’s not the cause.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Having the cat so unwell and having the bulk of the responsibility was unfortunately what tipped me over the edge. He is doing a bit better, though it’s still tricky (but we have a 3-day weekend now so husband is taking prime responsibility). I have a friend who’s a pet sitter coming in to do his middle of the day syringe meds which has helped a lot and that drops to 2 x a day from Monday with hopeful continued improvement.

        And our yoga teacher on a Friday has a temple bell she pings when it’s time to wake up from relaxation, which works really well (and indeed worked today). A good solution, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes, I do like the bells! I’m sorry it’s been such a stressful time. You know that I can, unfortunately, empathize with that. I have always been the prime caretaker for the furkids. It’s very hard, and it’s emotional draining.

        Having a pet sitter come in to help out is, well, helpful. Seriously. I hope that he continues to improve and turns a corner soon — I’m praying for you guys!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I do the body scan thing in the late miles when I’m tired. I ask myself at each body part if I’m “really” hurting or if it’s just mental and it’s almost always mental. I also like to lower my shoulders down from my ears and back, letting the tension release. I find that helps me stop slumping when I’m tired and helps my breathing. Yoga is SO good for running!

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    1. All of that explains why you’re such a darn good coach, Marcia!

      I actually picked up the body scan thing many years ago after reading Chi Running. Whether or not you agree with that style, there are still many good takeaways!


    1. Breath — absolutely! Yoga is all about breathing, really. And it helps you to connect with your body. Like running, there are so many things to think about it can be hard to remember it all!


  3. I knew there would be a yoga post soon. Lol.

    I like to do most of my runs with others so we chat. Otherwise I listen to podcasts.

    I do body scans all the time. Never related them to yoga. Especially my feet. Try to raise my knees to increase cadence and get faster. Also be lighter in my feet. Bigger strides.

    If only the rain would stop.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not longer. Higher knees. Increase cadence.

        I’ve had a coach watching how I run. He yells at me to have lighter steps but higher knees. Though lots of runners do drag their feet and are fast.

        Raining in NYC. still.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I have not done the body scan but that would probably help. I do regulate by breathing when I feel my heart rate getting too high. Taking 2 breaths in through my nose and letting it out of my mouth seems to help me. Great reminders!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I could see where incorporating meditation into dog walking could be relaxing ( as long as the dog wasn’t always pulling on the leash and chasing

    I do notice that I often pay attention to how my feet hit the ground while running. It’s not always about the legs doing the work, I notice the ankles play a huge part in where and how I strike the ground. -M

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    1. The dogs walk fairly well (we use a no pull harness for Bandit, sort of works). Meditation still helps, though, because it helps you be less reactive (sometimes, anyway). Now, if we could just teach dogs to meditate . . .

      Oh yes, the ankles are absolutely part of that body scan & can make a real difference!


  6. Hi Judy, I like your way of doing meditative breathing. I’ve been practicising Iyengar yoga for 3 years and I often think about what my teacher says about posture when I’m running. I try to visualise separating my ribs, elongating my spine and keeping my dorsal spine (top third of spine) in. My running posture is often a bit round shouldered so I hope that these visualisations help. I love yoga and wish my teacher didn’t have such long holidays! Katie

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting post as usual. I need to do the body scan while running because my shoulders, after the surgery, are no longer aligned. I also focus on my breathe both during running and swimming. Never tried yoga but I think that is a good option, at the moment I follow a postural course.

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  8. Great tie-in to running! I hear you on the breathing – I find it easy to hold my breath when I’m focusing on a yoga pose, and just today, I reminded my students to breath while they were in plank position during my balance and stretching class.

    My problem is that those great blog post ideas that pop into my head during my runs pop out once I get home. HaHa!

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