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FitLit Review: The Runner’s Guide to Yoga

See? A yoga book is totally handy. Credit: Jared Seymour

See? A yoga book is totally handy. Credit: Jared Seymour

I believe 2013, for me, is going to be The Year of Yoga. (I’ve also declared it The Year of: Beach Cruisers, Soup and Cheese, so take from that what you will.) But, in all seriousness, I’ve been ramping up my yoga game in the last couple of months, and I fully intend to keep doing so.

I’ve had The Athlete’s Guide to Yoga on my shelf for years, and it’s one of the books I turn to every time things just don’t feel quite right. Sage Rountree, the author, has a wonderful way of explaining how to do the poses, why and when you should do them, and what types of variations are available to make the poses easier if you lack flexibility (hello!) or need more of a challenge.

So, naturally, I was thrilled to receive The Runner’s Guide to Yoga, especially since I’ve got a half marathon later this year. I want to go through my training injury-free, and this is one of the best tools in my arsenal.

Now, let me address the question I’m sure you all have: How can a book really explain how to do yoga? Isn’t a DVD better for that? Well, I have thoughts.

Yes, the poses described throughout the book will be easier to do if you’ve, you know, done a yoga class before. Of course. However, that being said, Rountree’s photos and instructions take into account the fact that you don’t have someone to watch in real time. The descriptions are detailed, telling you why you should do it and what it will stretch/strengthen, how to do it (“From a wide squat, take your right hand in front of your right foot, right triceps toward the inner right knee. Lift your left arm toward the ceiling. After 5 to 10 breaths, repeat on the other side.”), and how to do the pose with more or less intensity. I had no trouble figuring out how to do any of the poses, even when I was unfamiliar with them at the start.

But here’s where the book really steps it up from most videos: It’s sectioned into extremely clear and easy to understand parts, first explaining how yoga helps runners, then going on to show what poses to do (with the aforementioned detailed descriptions), how to find the right balance, breath and meditation exercises, and, finally, how to put everything together, which is the section I turn to most often.

Part V: Putting It Together has four sections: Routines for Dynamic Warm-up Before a Run, Routines for Practice During a Run, Routines Following an Easy Run, and Routines Following a Hard Run. I learned far more from this part of the book than I’d imagined possible, not only because of the routines provided, but also in terms of why certain poses are best for different types of runs. Even when I don’t take time to do a full routine, this new knowledge has definitely affected what stretches I choose to do.

Have you ever relied on a book for your yoga practice? Have you read anything from Sage Rountree? What did you think? —Kristen


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