With the Sun Run and the BMO half/full marathon just around the corner adding a little Yin to your Yang could be your best preventative approach towards staying injury free this season.
As an ultra marathoner and Yoga teacher I realize that stretching is a crucial part of any athletes repertoire. Over time, as we age, and especially in competitive athletics when load is applied continuously our structural frame our connective tissue and joints are ultimately the most affected. This creates stiffness, limited mobility and sometimes injury.
So how does Yin and Yang relate to human physiology?
Yang tissue make up muscles, are more fluid-filled, soft, and elastic. Yin tissue make upconnective tissue (ligaments, tendons, and fascia) and bones are dryer, harder, and stiffer. By extension, exercise that focuses on musculoskeletal tissue is yang; exercise that focuses on connective tissue is yin.
Through dynamic movement and the linear mechanics of running, we place 8 times our body weight with every gait cycle; which generates a large amount of heat within working tissue. So it’s no wonder so many athletes gravitate towards adding a little Yin to their Yang practice.
Yin Yoga provides a slower, calmer method of yogic stretching that targets the joints, ligaments and fascia/connective tissue in the body. When combined with deep diaphragmatic breathing; the vagus nerve is stimulated and the relaxation response within tissue is activated, releasing new depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy can be achieved by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body through this practice.
Moreover, a yin approach works to promote flexibility in areas often perceived as nonmalleable, especially the hips, pelvis, and lower spine, all areas that runners need to be mindful of during their peak training leading up to race day.
As you approach the Sun Run and BMO half /full marathon create space for Yin Yoga, it’s a great addition to your taper. Try YogaFORM on Saturday mornings on the North Shore, or if you are an evening Yogi; one of my favorite spots is YogaPod, also on the North Shore, Friday afternoons and Saturday evening bliss!
Happy Yin, to all your Yang!