YOGA FOR SPORTS RESOURCES
Understanding posture and how yoga postures can help a sportsperson.
Running with the grace of gazelles
Fascia, “the endless web”
Finding a balance of ease and stability
in yoga alignment
RUNNING WITH THE GRACE OF GAZELLES
Next time there is a marathon nearby, try to get close and watch the front runners. If you are lucky enough to see the leaders come past, the dense pack at the front, it’s guaranteed that each one of them is moving with elegant efficiency. The leading group are like a herd of gazelles, they are poetry in motion. They are the representatives of ideal posture and technique.
The reason posture is important for running and any sport is because it energy-efficient. Like a streamlined sports car, or a well-oiled axel it doesn’t lose energy to friction. Scott Jurek, a legend of ultrarunning and the star in the famous best seller Born to Run, summed it up when he said, ‘to run far, fast or efficiently, you have to run with proper posture.’
Interestingly, if you wait around while watching the marathon, you will also see people making fairly good time with all sorts of personalised gaits, limps, stops and bends. They are getting the job done with shear dogged determination. That’s one of the beautiful things about running, that it is for all shapes and sizes of human. They can still run but they are not in the leading pack by a long shot and more importantly, every deviation from the ideal running posture comes with an increased risk of an overuse injury.
The gazelles in the front are the most efficient machines and they all have their chest open and their heads held high right up to the finish line. So yoga won’t train the legs for running, but it can certainly help strengthen the postural muscles and instill the right patterns for efficiency.
Posture is directly related to breathing and if the base of the breathing diaphragm is not positioned well, tilted too much forward, backward or asymetrically, then the breathing will be limited. A strong set of back and shoulders forms the mounting hanger for a strong breathing mechanism of ribcage and diaphragm to work off efficiently.
SECONDARY BREATHING MUSCLES include accessory muscles of inhalation and exhalation, intercostals, scalene, abdominal obliques and the other global movers. Under physical exertion virtually all the muscles of the trunk are involved in some capacity in the function if breathing.
The breath has a direct relationship with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and therefore is a primary factor in the performance of athletes: physically and mentally.
We all intuitively know how to regulate our breathing, holding it when we need to or sighing with relief for example. In this section of the course we will explore some of the more advanced practices where they are appropriate and also practice teaching these.