Veggie Runners', Jayne Rodgers, introduces the fusion workout all runners need to know about - Roga ...
Roga – The Back Story
Running is what I love to do, so I always had a bit of an issue with cross-training, even though I knew it was good for my fitness and form. If I had the choice between an hour’s run and spending that time in the gym or at a class, the outdoors almost invariably won.
Then I temporarily relocated to Canada and discovered yoga, which changed my life for the better. I still run, of course, everything from parkruns to all 96 miles of the West Highland Way and any distance in between. Like I say, it’s what I do. I’ve stuck with yoga too though and seen improvements in my running, and my overall sense of wellbeing, as a result.
Which leads me to … Roga! I kept thinking how perfectly yoga complements running and how great it would be if more people combined the two. When my friend Holly, who happens to be a fantastic yoga teacher, expressed the same thought, Roga was born. We started to develop structured classes that combine the best elements of both for an invigorating workout for whole body and mind. Roga can make you a better runner, with maybe the added bonus of calming your mind too. What’s not to love about that?
Creating The Roga Package?
We know we’re not the first to notice that sport and yoga go together well. The Williams sisters, Serena and Venus, practise yoga, as do the New Zealand All Blacks. There are also loads of articles and videos online showing how pigeon pose will put your dodgy piriformis right and how downward facing dog will make your gnarly runners’ hamstrings like those of a springer spaniel.
What none of these posts do is package the two together to create a natural flow designed to help you progress and improve at both running and yoga. That’s where Roga comes in. With our combined experience of yoga philosophy, physiology and runners’ common problems and weak spots, we created and honed a programme that addresses runners’ needs holistically.
A Typical Roga Session
Roga sessions match the run we do with the stretches that come after. So if we do hill training, the yoga makes sure that your quads, hamstrings and calves get a good stretch afterwards. Or we’ll focus on a particular element of running form – like using your core effectively – and base the yoga on poses that strengthen your mid/upper body.
The runs are great fun and we usually stop en route to do some yoga poses. Passersby love it and quite often join in - and only some of them are drunk! Warm muscles are supple muscles so we make the most of this back in the studio, continuing the workout with some strong poses then easing into slow stretches.
Benefits For Runners?
Some of the benefits of Roga are very tangible whilst others are less measurable but still powerful.
A good stretch
This is probably the most obvious of Roga’s benefits. Over the years, I’ve done more runs than I could possibly count and many races I barely even remember. What I do know is that after most of them, runners get caught up chatting and rarely take the time to really, really stretch. Dispute this if you like but my experience is that unless there’s a coach standing over us with a stopwatch, we rarely time our stretches as we should.
In Roga, we ho-o-old our stretches, often until you’re edging outside of your comfort zone. I don’t know about you, but I’d never do that on my own. The payoff, in terms of flexibility and releasing tension, is worth every second of that agonising warrior pose!
Improve your running form
Yoga helps you to focus on tiny movements in your body, adjusting and aligning as you go. This helps with your running form. The better you know your body, the easier it is to adjust your posture when you’re running and improve your form, and hopefully your speed and endurance too.
Get a good workout
Don’t be fooled into thinking yoga is an easy workout. If you’ve never done it before, you’ll be surprised how much hard work you can put in on a 6-foot long mat! You’ll strengthen your core and upper body as well, which will do your running the world of good.
It’s no coincidence that the man who brought yoga into mainstream sports consciousness, Ryan Giggs, also had the longest ever-Premier League career. Yoga strengthens the body for other athletic performance. The same micro muscles that help you keep balance when standing on one leg in tree pose, are the same ones that protect you when you go over on your ankle on a pothole.
Would Roga Work For Me?
Anyone can take part in Roga classes. The runs are brief and anyone who can handle a short run without stopping will enjoy it. The yoga is totally accessible. People are often needlessly intimidated by yoga – ‘I can’t even touch my toes!’ is a regular reason we’ve heard for not taking part. Pshht. Thinking you’re ‘too inflexible’ for yoga, is like thinking you’re ‘too thirsty’ to have some water. That’s why you do it, not a reason not to! If you have problems or niggles with any particular area of your body, just let the teacher know beforehand and they can modify poses to adjust.
More details here.