How hot yoga helps my running

I love to run’but sometimes, my body protests, especially as I increase my mileage. My personal issue is with my


I love to run’but sometimes, my body protests, especially as I increase my mileage. My personal issue is with my hip flexors and the other muscles in the area’after a 12 km run the weekend before last, for instance, the area all around my left hip tightened up so much that I was limping the next morning. I can stretch it out, and I use my foam roller pretty religiously, but the one thing I’ve found that really loosens things up is my latest yoga endeavour: hot yoga.

I’ve been practising yoga (sometimes sporadically) since the mid-’90s, moving from Iyengar through various styles of Hatha and settling primarily on Ashtanga (with some Anusara thrown in) as my style of choice. It was only this year’when I received a five-class Moksha pass as a gift’that I was brave enough to try out hot yoga, which has become pretty trendy in Toronto, if not in the whole country.

Previously, I had always claimed that I wasn’t made for hot yoga’after all, I’ve never been able to sit in a hot tub for long, and I tend to overheat pretty quickly when I exercise. But I decided to use all five classes before passing judgement, and despite a couple of classes where I did overheat and had to leave early, I was hooked. While I still make it to see my favourite Ashtanga teachers regularly, hot yoga has become a regular part of my practice’and essential cross-training for running.

I’ve found there are a few secrets to a good hot yoga class. The first is to make sure you’re hydrated before you get there, so drink plenty of water the day before and the day of class. Definitely bring a bottle of water to sip through class. You’ll need one or two towels’I’ve never sweated so much in my life’and a mat, of course. But above all, and especially for your first few classes, don’t push yourself as hard as you would in a cooler room. You’d be amazed at how fast your heart rate will get just from a simple Warrior pose, for instance, as compared to in a not-hot yoga class, and I’ve found that once you overheat, it’s way too hard to cool down. Better to hold yourself back a bit’not too much, you still want to be working’and test your limits that way.

Do you practise hot yoga? What do you think? Do you find it good cross-training for other sports?

View all of Kat’s running posts on the Half-marathon diaries home page.

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