This week, as I reflect on the inspiration the Boston Marathon brings to our community – I’m writing to send a high-five to every runner out there – for your stamina, grit, determination and strength. These are qualities we deeply value and work hard to cultivate at Barre & Soul. Huge congratulations those who ran the Boston Marathon. It takes super-human levels of stamina and endurance to take on a race of this level, and we know you’re feeling it big-time post-race.
We want to reach out to you personally, from another dimension of the fitness universe, and invite you over to learn more. Bring your bib number and your driver’s license to any of our studios for a complementary class in April.
We’ve just been recognized in Boston Magazine as one of the best places to explore a yoga practice in greater Boston, and we want to extend an invitation for you to join us here.
Yoga is often misunderstood as an exclusively meditative, passive approach to self-care and fitness. Yes, there is a mindfulness element, and yes there is the benefit of self-acceptance, meeting your body each day wherever it is on your mat. But there is so much more to learn and benefit from - for runners in particular.
Many runners cite greater flexibility as the primary reason for beginning a yoga practice. This makes sense, because yoga stretches the muscles that are tight, which in turn increases the range of motion in related joints.
Studies have also shown that yoga combats stress, accelerates weight loss, reduces pain, helps people stay consistent with their fitness routine, and even improves running times. The strength and flexibility runners develop on the mat--particularly in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors--can help them run more efficiently and avoid injury.
What’s more - holding challenging yoga poses builds tenacity and mind-body connection that translates in your runs. And it teaches you to deepen the connection with your breath –a skill that you can leverage to enhance your running as well.
A real breakthrough in embracing Yoga for many runners happens when they learn that fast-twitch muscle fibers can contract ten times faster than slow-twitch fibers. This is the kind of muscle that runners really want to develop to train for speed.
The difference in which muscle fibers you build comes not from your training speed, but your training intensity. If you do an isometric exercise that involves holding a half-full cup of water out at arm's length for four hours a day, you’ll develop lots of slow-twitch muscle because the intensity over time is low.
If, instead, you tried to do a shoulder raise on that same arm at maximal intensity for a fraction of the time, like seven to twelve seconds, you fatigue fast-twitch muscle fibers (all muscle fibers, in fact) much faster. Intensity is key to your speed training, not the speed of the movement itself. This is where a great Yoga practice can transform your running game, and your fitness overall – thanks to the isometric element.
It may seem counterintuitive, but isometric exercises involving very challenging but static holds involving body weight (a foundational element of both Yoga and Barre) can be better than plyometric (like exploding into a movement, like big jumps or clapping push ups) for speed.
Isometric exercises for speed also use a minimum of impact force, and keep the body safe from injury. Great news for runners, and everyone else!