If you ever wanted to make yoga a part of your regular routine and then got distracted by the need to chase more miles, cross off to-dos, or maybe spend some much-needed R&R on the couch, you’re certainly not alone. An hour-long yoga commitment class can seem like a big, even if you do want to reap the rewards of the practice, like better recovery and wellbeing.
Research shows that yoga is, indeed, good for runners. It can support heart health, reduce anxiety symptoms, and bolster your bones—not to mention the poses simply feel good for the tight hips and calves many marathoners tend to struggle with thanks to clocking many miles.
With this conundrum in mind—runners wanting to do yoga, but not making the time for long sessions—Apple Fitness+ teamed up with well-known ultrarunner, Scott Jurek, who won the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run a record seven straight times and once held the fastest known time for completing the Appalachian Trial, and who has also been practicing yoga for about 20 years. They also tapped yoga instructor and Fitness+ trainer, Jessica Skye, and created a six-session series, with classes lasting just 10 minutes each.
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Runner’s World sat down with Jurek, Skye, and Jay Blahnik, vice president of fitness technologies at Apple to talk about the yoga program, what it’s all about, and how it aims to open the doors to the mind-body practice for more runners.
What You Can Expect from the Apple Fitness+ Yoga for Runners Program
Blahnik says that to make the shortened sessions in the program work for runners, they decided to get specific. Each session targets a goal: hip mobility, core strength, glute work, looser legs, stable ankles, and shoulder mobility.
Skye tells Runner’s World that they chose these themes by thinking about what runners need to address—or as Jurek puts it, considering the “problem areas” of runners—starting from the feet and working up through the shoulders. Each pose is meant to address issues runners face in those areas of the body.
During each class, you’ll move from one pose to the next in a sequence, but not in a flow-style (or vinyasa) in which movement is linked to inhales and exhales. Nevertheless, Skye still puts an emphasis on deep breathing throughout each 10-minute sequence.
“This is geared for the person who doesn’t think yoga is for them. And we always have a modifier—in all of our workouts, there’s always someone that’s showing an option that has a smaller range of movement, or they might be using blocks, or something like that, just so wherever you’re at on your yoga journey, even if you’re right at the beginning, you can always do it,” Skye says.
Blahnik adds that the goal of the 10-minute sessions was to make them easy to squeeze in before or after a run or in the morning or evening. This versatility would, therefore, make it more seamless to maintain a regular yoga habit. And it is often true, when you know you only have to commit to 10 minutes, you’re more inclined to press play.
The Mental Side of Yoga for Runners
Jurek says one of the biggest benefits to these sessions, and yoga in general, is allowing you time to tune into your body and recognize the benefits of slowing down. This can pay off on the run when you better notice the way your body is moving and how you can be more efficient in your stride, he tells Runner’s World.
At the beginning of the workouts, Skye encourages you to remember your intention and why you decided to take class or move your body. In a panel at the Apple store after the Runner’s World interview, Jurek talked about this intention-setting practice coming into play on the run—especially during long races in which you’ll likely experience tough mental moments.
“Whether it’s prayer, intention, or having something to look to beyond your own state [of hurt during a marathon]…just having that hope out there and realizing ‘I can get through this, because of A, B, and C,’ I think those are really important things to have,” Jurek says. “Try to cling onto those things that can motivate you and help you get through those dark spots [in a long run]because they happen and they’re normal.”
Why Apple Fitness+ Wants to Make Yoga Less Intimidating
Some runners feel the need to be super bendy in order to take a yoga class. But the truth is, there’s no being “good” at yoga—you don’t have to be flexible at all in order to do it or gain advantages from it. That’s what Apple aims to convey, simply by having Jurek in the frame and not afraid to wobble throughout class.
“I was the person that had all the blocks and all the props and all the extra help that I could because I was the most inflexible person in the room,” Jurek says about his first experiences in the studio. “And I think that can be intimidating to runners, because running isn’t something [in which] you need mega flexibility. But you want to avoid injuries, develop body awareness, and you want to have strength. So, for runners, it’s about making [yoga] approachable, and having a setting where they feel like ‘okay, I can be stumbling.’”
While taking the yoga sessions, you’ll hear Skye suggest body placement for certain poses and Jurek almost always mentions that it’s okay if you can’t get there—that shortening your stance, or using props, or looking different than Skye in the pose is perfectly acceptable.
The message: Instead of focusing on how good you are at yoga (or running, for that matter), focus on consistency, being in the moment, and enjoying it. “It’s just like running—there is one day where you decide, I’m going to put one foot in front of the other,” Jurek says. The same goes for yoga. To make it a part of your routine, you simply need to take it one breath, one pose, one session at a time—even if it’s just 10 minutes.
Mallory Creveling, an ACE-certified personal trainer and RRCA-certified run coach, joined the Runner’s World and Bicycling team in August 2021. She has more than a decade of experience covering fitness, health, and nutrition. As a freelance writer, her work appeared in Women’s Health, Self, Men’s Journal, Reader’s Digest, and more. She has also held staff editorial positions at Family Circle and Shape magazines, as well as DailyBurn.com. Formed New Yorker/Brooklynite, she’s now based in Easton, PA.
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