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Whistler health practitioner creates yoga for runners program

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While running is one of the best things you can do for your overall cardiovascular health, there’s no question that it can also be hard on the body.

According to Van Powel, a Whistler-based health practitioner and founder of Mind-Body Fitness, most runners will suffer some kind of injury over the years, and 80 per cent of those injuries occur from the knees down. One way to prevent those injuries is through yoga, strengthening core muscles and increasing flexibility.

“The problem is that yoga takes a long time, up to an hour and a half for some programs, but runners don’t have that kind of time — if they have an hour and a half, they’ll go running,” said Powel.

Over the past 10 years, Powel — a yoga instructor — has been working on a yoga program for runners that can be done in half an hour after a run. Along with partner Mike Dennison, a former competitive runner and the owner of City Yoga in Vancouver, he has created a program that combines yoga stretches and strengthening exercises with breathing techniques.

“Research has shown that the shorter an exercise routine is the more likely it is that they’ll keep doing it,” said Powel. “People are busy and they don’t have time to do all the things they should be doing, and they go out running and get injured.

“It’s hard. I’ve taught thousands of yoga classes in Whistler, but when I’m not teaching I know I struggle to find time to do yoga. Instead of six days a week, I find I’m doing it one day a week and sometimes not at all. That’s when I started looking at ways to shorten the routine into something that’s effective and hits all the major muscle groups, but is quick and easy to do.”

Powel and Dennison have created a 30-minute CD that walks runners through the sequence of stretches, as well as a card that shows all of the poses.

The package will not be sold on its own, but rather will be presented to people who take part in a Runners Yoga workshop. The workshop lasts over three hours and familiarizes runners with all of the stretches, as well as proper breathing techniques, and other concepts that Dennison and Powel have embraced. Those concepts include using The Stick (www.thestick.com) to massage sore muscles and improve blood flow, keeping a training calendar, some nutrition, and running “naked” (without music) so you can pay more attention to your body.

According to Powel, they want all runners to have a good foundation in Runners Yoga before they take home the package.

Powel and Dennison have plans to take their program around the world, teaching other runners and yoga instructors how to teach the program in their regions. They have already had one successful class in Vancouver, and have another class planned for Whistler on Saturday, August 4. You can register online at www.runnersyoga.com , or at Meadow Park Sports Centre. The cost is $75, which includes the package of materials that will allow runners to follow the program at home.

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