Run-yoga debut in Leeds city centre reveals surprising benefits

A Roga class taking place at Leeds Dock.
A Roga class taking place at Leeds Dock.
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Splicing together two words to create a catchy buzzword is all the rage at the moment.

But not everything goes together, so upon hearing about ‘Roga’, a new exercise movement combining running and yoga, I was admittedly pretty sceptical.

A Roga class in action.

A Roga class in action.

Draining distance running, straining yoga and relaxing mindfulness seemed like a cocktail of contrast – so, naturally, I decided to give it a go.

Founded in Leeds by food and fitness blogger Jayne Rodgers and yoga entrepreneur Holly McFee, the classes are designed to be a workout for the whole body and mind.

The hope is that it helps to both make injury prone, inflexible runners supple and boost the cardio fitness and stamina of yoga enthusiasts while working on breathing and thought through mindfulness.

With that in mind I signed up to the first eight-week Roga introduction course based at Holly’s Yoga Hero studio at Leeds Dock which started in late January.

As a relatively seasoned runner, who plays football and cycling, I was keen to learn more about how yoga might be able to benefit me.

Each Sunday afternoon session had a different focus such as agility, the core or strength and started with a pretty strenuous – to an amateur at least – tailored yoga class before a led run featuring drills around Leeds Dock. Each 75-minute class ended with mindfulness – a nice way to prepare for the week ahead.

One great thing about the Roga course was the diversity of the people taking part, from a girl training for a coal carrying race and an older cyclist to yogis keen to start running and runners keen to try yoga.

It proved a brilliant introduction to both disciplines for those who might feel a little anxious about waltzing into a proper running club or class full of yogis.

And you’re advised to apply your mind to everything you do – it’s not simply a case of go out there and do some laps.

Instead you’re told to be more mindful of your running posture and breathing, as you would in a yoga class, which is an added benefit given that physically combining both disciplines helps you to address any cardio and suppleness imbalance you might have.

Despite the positives, I can’t say I learned a great deal more about running and, to be honest, I doubt practiced yoga enthusiasts will have learned much more about yoga but I don’t think that is the point.

Roga is a great way of learning more about something you’re not well-versed in within a supportive environment and how being mindful can help your workouts. On top of that you can reap the physical benefits of two forms of exercise that fundamentally compliment each other.

First wave of instructors in training

Roga is a trademarked exercise that has launched in Leeds, and could soon be spreading far and wide.

Much like fitness craze Zumba, the team behind Roga are currently training the first Roga instructors to offer classes across the country later this year – one city council has already shown an interest.

There are also more Roga courses and workshops in the pipeline in Leeds. Visit yogahero.co.uk, veggierunners.com or search for RogaRunYoga on Twitter or Facebook.

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