We’ve been thinking a lot about the benefits of yoga practice for running recently at Women’s Running HQ. We spoke to yoga teachers and massage therapists at Vale de Moses, a forest retreat in the remote foothills of the Serra da Estrela mountains in Portugal, on why practising yoga can go hand in hand with your running training.
“Oh those poor knees and ankles! They do take such a pounding when we run. Over the years our bodywork therapists have attended so many running injuries, such as muscle strains, shin splints and plantar fasciitis. But we also teach people during our yoga classes how to better look after their bodies so they can run or hike for many more years to come, with less risk of injury”, explains Vonetta Winter, owner of the Vale de Moses Yoga Retreat.
Vale de Moses is regularly listed as one of the best yoga retreats in Europe, and people come from all over the world to find respite from stress and to give their bodies some much-needed recovery time.
Vonetta’s husband Andrew told us: “Our guests come on this retreat for a whole range of reasons. Usually to deepen or to begin their yoga practice, and often simply to reconnect with nature and with themselves. The runners who come behave a bit like kids in sweet shops. Miles upon miles of endless trails through the forested valley landscapes with beautiful views on every turn. They rarely meet another person on a 2-hour run and return to cool off in one of the cascading river pools here. For some, that’s quite close to heaven!” We’d agree – that does sound pretty heavenly!
We also heard from a Mars Gossi, one of the retreat’s regular yoga instructors and massage therapists.
“A common thing I see with the runners who retreat here, is a tightness in their hips and hamstrings, which makes sense because of running’s repetitive nature,” he said. “The runners in a group are often overly apologetic for not being ‘flexible’ enough, but they come with great enthusiasm to explore how yoga can improve their performance and recovery. So I introduce them to postures that help develop muscular strength, flexibility, body alignment, breathing efficiency and balance. Runners often come to the mat already embodying fierce mental focus, stamina and discipline, which can be cultivated with a regular yoga practice.”
Yoga could be just the thing if you’re a runner who regularly experiences injury or if you need to reconnect with your body. Look out for more on the Vale de Moses Yoga Retreat as we’ll be exploring the healing power of yoga ourselves soon – eek!