Key Yoga postures for runners!

Having spent the past year or so working hard to not only complete  our Yoga Teacher Training, but complement our intense training regime with an effective yoga practice to speed up recovery and build mental strength.  We thought we would begin to share some of our favourite yoga poses that we spend a ton of time in post workouts, on rest days and even while at work! 😛

yoga for runners mel meditation

Whether it’s a group runs, running talks, or at our races, we hear so many people throw out the all to common phrases such as “all runners have tight hamstrings”, “plantar fascitis is something you can’t do anything about” or one of our favourites “I used to be able to touch my toes, but then I started running!”  What we want to get people thinking is that these RULES aren’t concrete, you can break through these social stereotypes, and all it takes is a little bit of work each day.  So here are 4 places to start, we find that these poses will address some of the most common tight or problematic areas runners tend to have.

jon yoga pose for run stretch#1Runners Lunge

There are a number of variations of runners lunge out there, depending on what studio you attend. However, this version will target not only your hamstring, but also your glutes and IT band.

Start by stepping back into a short lunge stance, feet hip width apart. With a flat back, fold forward over your front leg, allowing the front knee to take a slight bend.  Note: You should not be feeling a stretch in the front hamstring…YET, so take a bend to the knee.  Now slide your back foot across and behind your front foot, resting the knife edge of your foot on the ground.  NOW, begin to straighen your front leg and say “HELLO hamstring!”

Variations –>  Placing your hands on blocks will help if you’re have trouble rooting your hands to the ground when folding.

run yoga pose lunge mel#2Lizard Lunge

This is a simple posture that can target your adductors, hip flexors, or even your quads, all depending on how you move in the pose.  Once you’ve found your alignment in this one, feel free to make subtle movements to explore and find your body’s sticking points.

From down dog or from standing, find your way to a deep lunge.  Drop your back knee to the ground and place both hands on the ground inside of your front knee (might have to heel/toe that foot out a tad).  Square your hips to the front and choose between OPTION A: lower your chest to the ground, coming down to your elbows or fully outstretching your arms and bringing your chin to the floor.  This option will stretch deep into your hips, but be sure to not let your front knee fall out.  OPTION B: bend your back knee and reach your opposite arm back to grab a hold of your back ankle.  This will bring a deep stretch to your back quad.

lizard lunge yoga pose runner

 

#3Kneeling Arch Stretch

foot stretch for running yogaThis one is so simple yet extremely important.  Many runners don’t notice any foot or arch issues until they have set in and it’s often too late.  We’d suggest to most people find a daily routine that you can sit back into this, such things that would work great would be while eating breakfast, while brushing your teeth, or simply reading for a few minutes before tucking into bed.

arch stretch runners yogaBend your knees and sit back onto your heels.  Curl your toes under so the bottoms of your feet are stretched out (making sure EACH toe is curled under…that includes you baby toe!).  That’s it!!! Your toes may begin to hurt a bit, allow yourself to go to the point of intense sensation, but never to the feeling of pain.  Place a folded towel under your shins if your ankles are uncomfortable, or under your buttocks if your knees are feeling strained.  Whether you can only last 15 seconds, or sit for a comfortable 15 minutes, simply try to stick with it and go longer than you went yesterday.

 

proud pigeon yoga for runners#4Sleeping Pigeon and King Pigeon

Piriformus is something every runner has heard about, and most of us have likely felt its wrath when it gets overworked.  Well this is a great posture to passively and safely stretch and relax it.

From down dog, bring your R knee forward and place it on the ground behind your R wrist.  Place your ankle on the ground wherever comfortable (the more parallel your shin is to the top edge of your mat, the more intense this stretch will be).  Check back and make sure your left leg is outstretched directly behind you and not swaying to one side. Focus on drawing your R hip back and your L hip forward and to the ground.  At this point press your legs down into the ground and find stability in your hips.  Now choose one of the below options;

sleeping pigeon yoga for running

 

 

Sleeping Pigeon

–> Walk your hands forward and lower your chest to the ground. If comfortable in this position, feel free to explore a bit by drawing your chest to either side, changing the angle of the hip stretch.

 

 

King pigeon yoga for runners

King Pigeon

–>  Bend your back knee up and grab hold of this foot with one hand or if your balance is there, with both hands.  Pushing down into your front leg for stability, kick your lifted foot back which will pull your chest open.  Once your at this stage, one at a time bring your hand forward and up overhead and grab a hold of your foot.  **If your can’t quite reach your foot this way, sling a strap around your lifted ankle and slowly with time you’ll find the strap gets shorter and shorter until your grabbing your foot.

 

 

Give these 4 postures a try, let us know how it went, feel free to ask us any questions and if you find any variations that really hit a tight spot for you, please share with everyone!  More to come in the near future :)

Hari Om

Mel and Jon

 

Psst – be sure to check out our version 2 of Yoga Poses for Runners

Mel’s Yogi Adventures: Teacher Training Weekend 3 & 4

yoga teacher training tree of lifeWith this post comes a close to another two amazing weekends at Prana Yoga Studio Teacher Training. Jon and I hit a milestone by finishing our 1st teaching practicums which is making me realize that we are approaching the end of this training very fast with just 3 weekends left. These last two weekends were used to explore ayurveda, chakra, connective tissue, anatomy, and the nervous system . The complexity of yoga never ceases to amaze me and the copious amount of subliminal benefits it has to offer.

What really hit me this week was how unaware I really was of my body. Being an athlete, I thought I was pretty switched on when it comes to body awareness. However, after these trainings it came a lot more apparent that I am not nearly as body conscious as l I though to be.

Right now scan your posture by asking yourself these questions…

– Are your shoulders slightly hunched forward or are they drawn back into a straight alignment with your clavicle?

– Do your shoulder blades fall relaxed down your back or are they lifted up towards your ears?

– Is your spine rounding forward or aligned perfectly?

– Does your head reach forward or is it placed weightlessly on top of your spine?

mel and jon yoga teachers prana

Making my posture better though shouldn’t be a huge challenge to do as I personally think it just comes down to, well laziness for lack of a better word. When you have a chair back behind you why not just slant up against that to support yourself instead of engaging your back muscles to hold your own body up? Yup I’ve been completely guilty of this and it has become quite obvious through these YTT* weekends. Being seated on the floor cross-legged for a couple hours a day, you become aware pretty quick just how reliant you are on all of your back muscles when you have no chair/wall behind you to lean on. From day one till now of this YTT, I can honestly say I have notice improved posture and a substantial amount of more strength in my back. And no, I don’t believe you have to do yoga 18.5 hours of yoga every second weekend to see these benefits. In each yoga class, you’re constantly reminded to “draw the shoulders blades back”, “elongate the spine”, “slightly tuck your chin”, “tilt your pelvis under you”, etc. So whether you do a class once or 7 days a week, you are cued to pay attention to the alignment of your body.

Yoga teaches us to draw our attention to the sensations in our physical body. Yoga helps up to begin to dial into how you feel from the tissue level all the way till the cellular level of our bodies. We start to become sensitive to the sensations our breath creates in the fibres of our body with every inhale.  This is the beauty of yoga. We become increasingly conscious and begin to open up and notice things we once ignored. 

NAMASTE!

Check out more on the journey to becoming a yoga teacher…

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