yoga-and-runningWhether we have a competitive streak to our fitness pursuits or we’re just weekend warriors, most of us are really good at training and being active. But do we ever plan to recover? Did you know that Flow Yoga (and a couple other things) can help you stay at your best and feel great in the process?

If we’re like the typical active person, our workout usually looks something like this: push ourselves for 30 minutes to 2 hours, maybe take a cursory quad stretch or forward fold, and move on with our day. But spending a little more time stretching things out right after a hard workout can really help you reap a lot of benefits. How long should you be stretching? A good rule of thumb is a minimum of 5 minutes + about 1 extra minute for every 10 minutes spent working out. So, a 45 minute spin class would give you 9-10 minutes of stretching afterwards…hit the grass for somewhere between 15-20 minutes after a 2 hour hike…and if you ran a 3:40 marathon (wow!) you’re looking at a minimum of 27 minutes to work it out afterwards (or even better, hit up a Deep Stretch class!)

What if you only have a couple minutes right after your workout? Pencil in a longer stretch session for later in the day and then take your three must-do poses: standing forward fold to release the backs of the legs, low lunge to open up the hip flexors (add on a bonus quad stretch for a few breaths by catching the back foot), legs up the wall. Your lower body will thank you!

Selecting the right yoga class can also help during your training or more active times. Sometimes we need to move and sweat in a Flow 2 class, but sometimes we just biked the W&OD trail and need something different. Slow Flow classes can be a great way to get your yoga in without over-exerting yourself.

Other things that can help keep your schedule and training balanced and aid in your recovery:

SLEEP – this is when your body actually repairs itself! Making sure to get adequate sleep during times of increased physical activity is extremely important. This is also a great time to fit a Yoga Nidra class into your schedule, and reap both the physical and mental benefits of that practice.

ACTIVE RECOVERY – your muscles get sore after strenuous movement due to a buildup of lactic acid in the muscle. Getting the muscle moving increases blood flow to the area and helps flush those waste products out. Check out a Slow Flow class, or even just go for a walk!

LOWER CORTISOL – Cortisol is a stress hormone that helps us perform when we’re pushing our bodies. The trouble is when it hangs out after we’re done. Slower forms of yoga, especially yin, restorative, and meditation, are all great ways to reduce excess production of this stress hormone when we don’t need it. Flow Chill classes combine all three for the ultimate cortisol buster!

If you’re interested in learning more about how yoga can be a part of your training and recovery plans, check out the new Yoga for Runners class with Courtney on Saturday September 20th (Ashburn) or Saturday October 26th (Leesburg) from 1:00-2:30pm. This 90-minute class is designed to complement running and other athletic pursuits (cycling, hiking, etc) by combining elements of slow flow, deep stretch, yin and restorative yoga into one awesome stretch and recover class. Head out in the morning for your favorite workout and then hit up your mat in the afternoon to learn how to work-in effectively!

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