The mind and body connection in yoga

Running and yoga may not seem like the most natural bedmates at first, but upon further examination, we can clearly see that one feeds into the other quite well. Runners will often describe the act of running as one of moving meditation, something that allows them to tune out the hubbub of the world while simultaneously allowing them to turn inward and draw strength from their natural selves. It is fast-paced, or can be fast-paced, yet it’s also something that concurrently allows them to slow down time.

In contrast, most everyone who practices some type of yoga will agree that it’s a highly meditative and contemplative exercise, something that really forces its practitioners to slow down and savor each and every second. Whether you’re holding poses, chanting, or simply lying still, yoga seemingly has a way of bending time and forcing its practitioners to stay in the present moment and not ruminate about past woes or future worries.
Runners: on listening to their bodies

The connective fiber between running and yoga is the mind-body connection. Runners will often explain that the cathartic nature of running allows them to more easily and readily understand and listen to their bodies, since running is more or less a whole-body activity. Because runners often spend copious amounts of time by themselves, they have many opportunities to analyze how their body feels at any given time throughout the course of running.
While running isn’t a contact sport, it is, unfortunately, an activity that often sidelines participants each year due to many different types of overuse injuries. In time, then, often through trial and error, runners learn how to accurately and adeptly listen to their bodies and the biofeedback they receive at any given time. Doing so allows them to know when to push, when to pull back, and when to stay steady.

Running: 90% mental

When you hear people say that running is 90% mental, they really mean it. Runners spend so much time in their heads, listening to their biofeedback, trying to decide what types of moves to make at any given moment, that it’s understandable that they convey this hard physical activity as being something more mental than anything else.
One of the most important takeaways to the mental side of running is that runners’ attitudes towards themselves, and their self-talk, can play a significant role in how runners perform in key workouts and in races. There has been a recent surge in sports psychology books on topics related to mental fitness and mental toughness, and the underlying idea here is that no matter how physically fit a runner is, if she isn’t sufficiently mentally fit, she will fail.

Positivity: it matters

One of the key tenets to yoga that has a carry-over presence in the running world is the importance of positivity; in other words, how we talk to ourselves really matters. Believing we will succeed is part of the battle. If runners are constantly berating themselves and their abilities, minimizing their work and not believing in their abilities or -- most importantly -- their potential, they will fail before they even begin. In yoga and in the sports psych world, it is said that “what we think we become.” This belief can be the difference between a world-class champion and a runner-up.
Think of it like this: how would you talk to your best friend? If your best friend approached you to tell you about her big, audacious goal, would you quickly dismiss her and tell her that there’s no way she’ll ever be able to realize it? Chances are no, probably not; instead, you’d likely cheer her on from day one and encourage her as much as you could, even -- perhaps especially -- when she suffered setbacks.

So it is with ourselves. One of the best things that we can do is to internalize how we talk to ourselves. It behooves us to talk to ourselves as though we were talking to our best friend. It’s imperative that we are supportive and positive to ourselves, as we work day after day to realize our dreams, be they running- and fitness-related or otherwise. After all, if we’re not completely, unwaveringly supportive of our hopes, desires, and aspirations, who else will be? 

The mind-body connection: saying, believing, doing

Both a yoga practice and a running routine can be excellent avenues for cultivating a meaningful mind-body connection. In each activity, participants can have numerous opportunities to practice saying and believing positive affirmations about themselves and their abilities, as well as their goals, hopes, and aspirations.
It will surely take time to undo the possible years’ or decades’ worth of self-doubt and negativity, and it will definitely be a conscious choice every single day to let the positive drown out the negative, but it is absolutely worth it. 

Author is a fitness enthusiast and hiker. Performing at the sweet spot between minimalism and purpose to develop visual solutions that inform and persuade. She also writes reviews and recommendations on Runnerclick, ThatSweetGift, and GearWeAre.

Also read

1 Photos of Yoga Asana – how to do, what not to do and benefits

2 Introduction to the 8 limbs of Yoga

3 List of Institutions in India where you can learn Yoga


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