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Yoga for Runners based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
I have been doing some form of yoga for 15 years. I'm not consistent, but I recognize and appreciate the benefits. The primary benefit I need from yoga is flexibility, and since I'm so tight and find yoga so difficult I struggle to make it a regular practice, even though I know only regular practice of yoga will really help me gain flexibility. (Ah, the contradictions of being human.) I have also started running in the past 4 years. The contradictions continue, since even while I'm running I feel the tightness in my hamstrings and know flexibility would make running more comfortable. When I saw this book that combined both interests, I was intrigued to see what the author had to say. The book is written with the runner in mind. The benefits of yoga are framed in the context of a runner, with the drive and habits of a runner used to encourage the yoga practice, and also identified where they could be hindrances to a good yoga practice. The book starts with a description of what makes for a fit body, a balanced body. Then it describes clearly why yoga is of benefit to runners. A chapter on breathing and one on the mind and mindfulness perspective of yoga and then one more chapter on specific running injuries help round out the preparation for the specifics. The next 5 chapters are focused on specific parts of the body (feet, ankles, knees, then the spine, the core, the hamstrings, and the hips). Each chapter starts with a description of the body part, some of the benefits and dangers of running for that body part, and then the benefits of yoga for strengthening them. Specific yoga postures are identified with pictures and very clear descriptions for holding the post properly. Having read other yoga books and attended many yoga classes, I appreciated the clarity and pointers of the posture descriptions. Each also includes a description of the benefits of that specific posture. There is also a chapter on some restorative postures and it encourages the reader to perform these each day even if there is not time for a more vigorous yoga routine. I look forward to using these on those day when the end of the day catches up with me too fast. The chapter with the yoga sequences is well done. There are a variety of sequences with the duration noted so you can pick the one that would work for you on any given day. There is a photo, brief description, and page number of the more detailed description for each pose. And then there is a chapter with ways to do some yoga poses while sitting or standing for work or chores. I found the book motivating and encouraging. The descriptions were clear and helped explain or remind me why my body feels certain things or needs certain exercises to stay or get healthy.
Full disclosure: I was sent a free copy of this edition for the purposes of reviewing it. I am a recent (for the last two years) recreational sprint runner (5K) who has also done yoga for more then ten years. This book is not aimed at those who have done yoga and have come to running, but rather runners who have not done any yoga and aren't aware of the asserted benefits of regular practice for runners. The blurb on the back states the author is both a long-distance runner and yoga practitioner. So, is this book useful for its intended demographic? Overall approach: This book is written from an alternative viewpoint, in that there are no footnotes nor scientific studies in which to validate the author's assertions about anatomy and running. If you are looking for a wholly academically-impeccable sports-medicine approach, this is not the book for you. Much of the chapters on mental development and meditation embraces the somewhat loosy-goosey science of holistic medicine on the mind-body link and general living and performance, but the author doesn't deviate very far from the generally supportable views that most would agree with; however, I know some readers find such an approach irritating to read, so I include this observation for your benefit. Some General Observations: The author does some good things in this book. There is a huge section listing common running injuries and yoga poses that can help. As I would guess many runners would look to yoga for recovery and injury prevention, this section is well done. In a similar note, the section on routines are separated by body parts that they target. Although the injury list and the routines are in two different parts of the book (why not reference the routines at least by page number in the injury list section?) the content is excellent and would appeal to runners who are trying to reduce the aches, pains and injuries associated with years of running. Although she lists the poses themselves and organizes them into routines, and gives some instructions on how to synchronize breathing into the poses, the author does little to describe how to transition from one pose to another. For intermediate yoga practitioners, this is no real problem, but for someone who has not done yoga, the transitions can be very helpful and can make practice more organic and fun. Granted that these can be difficult to describe in a book, but other authors have done as much as can be done in print to describe the transitions, and I think this can be very helpful. The demographic being targeted presumably has never taken a yoga lesson, so transitions probably are worth putting into the routines, for those who might not want to attend a yoga class or rent a video to see how they can be done. A small quibble. The author has a brief section on running form. I think this is a worthwhile offer, but most runners I know have generally come to the running form that works for them, as biomechanically people differ quite a bit. The general tips she offers are helpful. Mental game: The author spends a great deal of time going into the mental game to emphasize its application to running. She also touts the benefits of meditation, and the mindful running and mindful living approaches. I think this chapter could be helpful to some, although I would add a caveat in that I think many experienced distance runners have a pretty good handle on the mental game that works for them. Some embrace mindful running, zen running, and other running approaches. While I think the tools can be helpful to some, others might find the emphasis on holistic eastern approaches are entirely too unscientific to be useful. That said, most runners I know use whatever approach that works for them, so having other tools to try is probably not a bad offering in a book meant to appeal to a wide variety of running types. Just be aware that it may not be the best approach for every runner. Overall: I think this is a solid offering to the runners' demographic, and is one of the most current in a field that is not saturated with yoga for runners texts. For runners who have an interest in injury prevention and pain management, and who are interested in adding yoga to their regular practice as a complementary exercise to running, this book has a lot to offer. For intermediate to advanced students of yoga the book's handling of yoga probably offers little that is new, but I think they are not the target audience.