Yoga for Runners Series
On May 28th, 2016 I ran my first half-marathon. If I can link the success of this run to anything it would be the friends I’ve trained with and my yoga practice, current and past. It seemed only fitting then that I share a yoga series dedicated to runners. If you know a runner friend who could use the series please share it with them.
To all my fellow yogi-runners out there: good luck on your runs. Whether it’s 1km or 50km, know you’re doing a good thing for your body by keeping it moving, for the soul by getting outside no matter the weather, and for the mind by going to your zen happy place. Dig deep, and don’t forget to celebrate your successes…with wine.
Hero Pose, or Virasana
- Find a bolster, blanket(s), yoga block, and strap,
- Kneel so your knee caps face forward, your thighs and shins are parallel and neutral, not rotated in, and the tops of your feet face the floor,
- Vary the height of the props you can sit so your knees and ankles are happy, add rolled socks under the ankles if needed for added support,
- If you have a strap, loop it tightly around your thighs to help keep the thighs from rotating, gently press out into the strap as long as you don’t feel knee pain,
- Sit with your pelvis neutral and spine straight.
Prop tip: If you can sit comfortably between your feet you don’t need support.
Option: Start with your thighs and knees hip-width apart. You can also practice this pose with the thighs together.
NEVER put up with knee or ankle pain here. If you’re not used to flexing your ankles this way, your feet may cramp. If that happens come out and stretch the undersides of your feet.
Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose, or Supta Padangustasana
- Keep your spine neutral the entire time except for the where you crunch,
- The leg that’s on the floor can stay bent if that feels better on your back,
- When you take your leg out to the side you can rest your outer heel against the wall to hold the position longer,
- Use your abdominals yo lift your body off, not your neck muscles.
Garland Pose, or Malasana
If you have tight ankles like I do, you’ll love this move. Or hate it. Or hate it, then love it.
- Crouch down with your feet together,
- Widen your knees but do your best to keep the inner heels and big toes touching,
- Keep your back long,
- Reach your arms out to the sides under the knees, and
- Squeeze the inner thighs in towards the arms.
Prop tip: Place a folded blanket or mat under the heels if they lift.
One-legged King Pigeon Pose, or Eka Pada Raja Kapotasana
Here’s a new take on a basic lunge, a favourite of mine. The basic lunge incidentally works perfectly fine if the thought of placing your foot on a chair makes you want to run and hide.
- Lunge with your back knee on a blanket,
- Take your back foot on a chair or leave it on the floor,
- Slide the front foot forward to a place where you feel a comfortable stretch in the back hip,
- Keep the deep abdominals and back glute engaged to avoid tilting the pelvis forward,
- Go to your happy place. Ahhh.
Optional: Hold the sides of the chair or places the hands in the front thigh.
Prop tip: Place a folded blanket under the knee and on the chair to cushion your bones and to allow yourself to slide the knee.
Here’s a new take on a lunge, or on Warrior III. This one takes flexibility, strength, and balance while helping you to improve all of those things. The classic standing lunge or Warrior I incidentally works really well if the thought of placing your foot on a counter, table, chair, or up against a wall makes you want to cry.
- Take your back foot on a chair, table, counter, or wall, or leave it on the floor,
- Step the front foot forward to a place where the heel is under the knee and you feel a comfortable stretch in the back hip,
- Keep the deep abdominals and back glute engaged to stabilize the pelvis and spine,
Option: Take your hands to blocks or another chair instead of the floor.
Bonus tip: Do NOT let your back hip sag towards the floor. You gain flexibility by how far you walk the foot out, not by pressing the back hip down to the floor!
Supported Shoulderstand, or Salamba Sarvangasana
One of the things I crave after a long run is to put my feet up. The fatigue and soreness in my lower body demands it. My body also craves chips, too, but that’s a different story.
Running long distances can cause swelling in the lower legs, feet, and ankles. Inversions then are the perfect fit for feetsies that need TLC. Yes, I said feetsies. Legs Up The Wall or laying with your feet up on a bolster will do. I like Supported Shoulderstand over a chair, too.
- Make sure the chair is on a non-slip surface like a mat,
- Place a second mat on the seat of the chair,
- Place a bolster in the floor in from the said chair,
- Sit backwards in the chair with the legs over the back,
- Hold the chair back lower down by the legs as you slowly and carefully lay back,
- Let your back slide off the edge of the chair until your shoulder hit the bolster and your head touches the floor,
- As you hands slide down the chair to the chair seat, you can then slip them around the legs or though the legs to hold on.
TIP! This is a shoulderstand. You want the arms rotated so that the the palms face in towards each other and the thumbs point up to the ceiling. Keep the shoulder rolled down to the floor, not hunched up.
Caution: Please, please, please don’t practice this pose for the first time without the help of a qualified teacher. Avoid it if you have a leg or back injury, or an eye condition like Glaucoma. Also avoid this one if you’re suffering from a migraine. I don’t usually post earnings so you know I been business when I bring them up. So if ever there was a time to listen to me (which really should be always because I’m smarts – ha!) listen to me now.
BONUS: Supported Plough, or Halasana
Plough is technically not part of the series because it’s a tad advanced, but if you have a strong yoga practice or an experienced yoga teacher to teach you the ropes, it’s the perfect finale. The back of the body will thank you for this one.
Beautiful bolster and props by Halfmoon Yoga.
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