If youre looking to increase your strength and flexibility without adding ground-impact forces to your regimen, power yoga can help.
Researchers have recently questioned the safety of some of the more extreme yoga positions, citing injury reports among its adherents. While there is evidence that overstretching can weaken joints in the long term, nothing in the following power yoga sequence qualifies as extreme.
Called the sun salutation, this routine is designed as a pre-run, aerobic warm up. The series of movements is choreographed and meant to be executed with deep, controlled breathing through the nose (yogic breathing). This sequence should be performed with vigor, ideally sweating throughout as a means of measuring muscle warmth. You can perform these stretches just as easily wearing running shoes on the side of the road as you can barefoot indoors.
Dont worry about getting the breathing exactly right until you become familiar with the postures. It may take you several sessions until youre comfortable performing the sun salutation as a dynamic, continuous routine. Initially, repeat this routine three times before your run, and as you get stronger you may increase to six or even 10 repetitions.
(Adapted from The NYRR Complete Book of Running & Fitness, 4th ed., by Gloria Averbuch, 2004, Random House, New York, NY, 546 pp. $19.95)
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