If there’s one thing that all runners have in common, it’s that we love to run. But sometimes, our love of running means we don’t make time for anything else. In honor of International Day of Yoga, I want to share the reasons why you SHOULD make time for something else (you guessed it, yoga). Yoga is more than just a way to stretch your sore muscles after a long run, it’s a full body workout that can actually improve your running performance. Here are five reasons why.

Injury Prevention
The primary reason why runners first enter a yoga studio is for this specific reason. The physical practice of yoga involves full body stretches. And let’s face it, most of us aren’t doing the mobility and stretching work we need to on our own, so hitting up a class at your local studio is a more fun and effective alternative. Runners are typically most impacted by tightness in their hamstrings, hips and lower back. All areas that most yoga classes will touch on. If you can’t make it to a studio, check out a YouTube flow or focus on a few poses like a Standing Forward Fold, Thread the Needle and Half Splits to give some love to your hips and hammies.

Mental Fortitude
Yoga isn’t just a physical practice, there’s a lot of mental and spiritual work that happens on the mat, too. The act of breathwork, which simply means concentrating and adapting the way you breathe, is a great way to get out of your head. Yoga can be physically challenging so focusing on your breath is a tool used to find ease in even the most difficult of poses. This concept is extremely helpful in a race. Focus on the breath and the better you’ll be at blocking out the physical discomfort. The more you practice, the easier it gets!

You’ll Get Stronger
Yoga is often associated with stretching, and sure, you’ll definitely get that. However, it’s often skimmed over that yoga poses help develop physical strength. A regular Vinyasa yoga practice will build strength in the upper body, lower body and core. Specific poses like Chaturanga (yogi push-up) will build muscle in the arms while Boat pose tones the ab muscles.

Body Awareness
The physical practice of yoga is all about generating self-awareness in the body. The more you are aware of your body, how it moves and reacts, the better you are at pushing yourself or learning when it’s time to back off. This will help you immensely in your training and on race day. The more you know your body, the better you can perform.

Joining a yoga studio or dropping into community classes gives you access to a new and totally different community from your running buddies. The best part? Your new yogi friends might not be racing. That means more cheerleaders and support on race day! BONUS – Consider joining lululemon Houston’s International Yoga Day event Thursday, June 21, to celebrate!

Whether you choose to practice in a studio or in your living room, know that yoga really can make a difference. Even if it’s just a few minutes a day or one class a week. So roll out your mat and flow.

Lindsay McClelland – @lovinglifeontherun is a digital marketing professional, yoga teacher, former collegiate swimmer, marathon runner and fitness blogger. Her running adventures have taken her to 14 marathons (and more half marathons than she can count!), including the 2018 Boston Marathon. Lindsay has shared many of her races, including four start lines in Houston, with her dad who began running at 57 years young!  She teaches yoga at Revolution Studio and loves when runners come to her classes (mark your calendars for her class at EXPO!). Lindsay catalogues her fitness adventures and stories from Houston’s running trails on her blog, Loving Life on the Run.