“Yoga = Such an AMAZING recovery for runners. Yoga IS magical.”
It compliments any physical activity. I love being outdoors and changing up my physical workout. In addition to yoga, I mix in workouts such as running. The beauty of yoga is that it helps to loosen the sore/tight spots after running, strengthen weak spots and prevent or heal injuries.
Prior to yoga I encountered constant injuries when I would run or do other physical activities. Over time I’ve learned the benefits of incorporating yoga at the right time to compliment running and avoid injuries. The simplest routine can do wonders for enhancing your running game. There are a multitude of physical benefits such as improving flexibility, range of motion and strength. This is important because by freeing tension in your muscles and reviving range of motion you can run better the next time you hit the trails. While the physical benefits are enough on their own, the benefits it has on the mind is where the true magic lies . A simple practice enhances focus and decreases stress. It helps you to train your mind to continue going because it is our mind that gives up before our body.
Here are my 5 favorite poses for runners:
Benefits: Helps prevent plantar fasciitis by stretching the shins and arches of the feet.
How To: Kneel on your mat with your toes curled under. Sit back on your heels (you can place a yoga block or pillow between your heels and booty). Leave your hands by your side or to lessen the pressure lean slightly forward placing your hands in front of you. If you’re ready to intensify the pose, lean back as you attempt to lift your knees off the mat. You’ll know you’re there when you feeling a lovely stretch in your shins and arches.
Benefits: Stretches your hip flexors, quads and hamstrings. It also strengthens these areas, as well as strengthening your knees which is oh so important for runners and the impact + repetitiveness we put on our knees.
How To: Place one foot forward, keeping the back knee on the floor. Rather than landing directly on the knee cap, press into your hip flexor and rest more at the top of your knee if possible. You can always use a blanket or fold your mat for extra knee cushion. Begin with your lunging knee stacked directly on top of your ankle. As you feel your body ease into the pose remember to soften your shoulders, release tension in your face/jaw, lengthen your spine, then gradually shift your torso forward allowing your knee to move past your ankle. Gradually shift the body forward, taking the lunge deeper by allowing the knee to move slightly forward over the ankle. To take a low lunge even further, drop down onto your elbows in Lizard pose.
Benefits: Calms the mind, strengthens your legs and improves your sense of balance. Practicing balance is such an important skill for runners.
How To: Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right knee cap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Rotate your torso to the front of the room squaring off your hips. Lift out of your low back reaching the top of your head forward and start to lean your torso forward over your right leg. If your hands touch the floor place them on either side of your right foot. Otherwise, put blocks on either side of your right foot to rest your hands or a chair in front of you to place your hands on. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Releases hip flexors, improves flexibility of the neck and spine and can relieve backache. The high-impact nature of running compresses the spine so this is such a wonderful pose for runners. Releases your emotional center while opening your chest and abs.
How To: Come to standing on your knees and bring them hip width distance apart. Press the tops of your feet into the mat. Bring your palms to your lower back and point your fingers down. Gave up and slowly start to gaze further back sending your hips forward at the same time stacking your hips over your knees.
Benefits: Stretches the entire back of the body, from the heels to the neck. This is especially important for runners because it includes stretching the back legs, glutes, hamstrings and calves. I personally love the release in the low back and the sense of calm it offers for your mind.
How To: Rather than extending both legs, I like to start with extending only one. Bend one knee bringing your foot to the inner thigh of your opposite leg and straighten the other leg keeping the foot flexed to protect your joints. Keep your knee soft, raise your arms to the sky, hinge at your hips and slowly lower your belly towards your legs. Repeat on the other side. Remember, be OK with however “deep” you go in the pose. It’s not about your nose being able to touch your knee. Be OK with where you are at in your practice today.
With each of my favorite poses above, close your eyes and take a big deep breath in counting to five. As you exhale again count to five finding each length in your inhales and exhales. Repeat three times with each pose or as many/few times as you feel YOUR body needs. Remember, your yoga practice should be just that…YOURS. So modify, enhance or take any variations that feel the best to YOU.
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