Yoga Poses for Runners – Part 2

With all of the great feedback we received from out post a while back (Yoga Poses for runners #1) sharing some of our favourite yoga poses that we thought runners everywhere should try, we thought it was time for round two.  This time we’re focusing on the upper legs and hips for the first three, then going to turn a bit of attention to your shoulders and back muscles, which so many of us accidentally neglect from time to time.  So whether you run 5k’s all year and can’t get enough of them, or you’re taking on an ultra marathon of unimaginable difficulty, these could help you stay loose and free from injury!

***Before you get cracking though, always remember WHEN and HOW you stretch is important.  Make sure you’re muscles are a bit warm (couple sun salutations or 10 minute jog can always help with that!) and try to avoid static stretches before any kind of workout.***

 

#1 – Gomukasana – Cow Face Pose

Gomukasana yoga for runners cow faceAbsolutely no idea where that name came from, but this one can be magic for some people.  Start from a seated position with legs outstretched, cross your right foot over your left leg and tuck it back near your left butt cheek.  Sitting up nice and tall, allow your knee to fall forward.  This may be enough for you (it was when we started doing it;)) or you can go a bit further.  Keeping your right leg where it is, draw your left foot towards your right butt cheek and allow the left knee to lay on the floor.  Check in to make sure your right knee is stacking right over the left AND that both of your sitting bones are on the ground. (If one is lifting off the ground try sitting on a block)

cow face pose for runnersThis is the basic posture, but feel free to play from this position to suit your needs; folding forward, fanning your feet out to the side away from your body, whatever feels right!  This is great for people with tight hips and people prone to pains along their IT bands.  Make sure to do both sides, and sit in this one for as long as you can comfortably, these muscle groups take a while to let go.

 

 

#2 – Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby

Happy baby, how can this pose NOT feel amazing!:)  So start off laying on your back and draw your knees up to your chest.  Spread your knees apart and reach your arms IN BETWEEN your knees to take hold of your feet along the inside of the foot, the outside of the foot, or the big toe. Now rise your feet up to shine the soles of your feet to the sky.  Maybe you get there, maybe not, thats just where we’re moving towards.

happy baby yoga pose

Alignment check in –> Has your lower back lifted off the ground?  Try to press it back down and keep the whole spine long and in contact with the ground.  If your feet are facing up to the sky, then next step is to draw your knees down towards your armpits.  For runners, you might always want to take some time to try straightening one leg at a time, your hamstrings will likely have a love/hate relationship with you during this one so take it slow;)

#3 – …quadasana? … alright this isn’t exactly a yoga pose, but you’ll still love it!hip stretch yoga for running

Find an empty space on a wall or in front of a chair/couch (if you know your quads are super tight the ladder tends to be a little gentler).  Start on your hands and knees and slide back towards the wall as close as you can.  Draw your right heel up to your butt and slide the right knee closer to the wall (eventually we want the knee touching the wall, but start about 6 inches away and move closer from there).  Next step, step your left foot forward so its flat on the floor just outside your left hand. (ps. don’t worry we aren’t graceful making that move either;))  You might be feeling this in your quad or hip already, if so take some time here to let things lengthen.  If you want a little more then bring your hands onto your left knee and slowly rise the chest to end up in a lunge looking position.

quad stretch for runnersOnce you’re this far, you have two options to focus this stretch a bit more.  A) Pressing your hips and shoulders back towards the wall behind you will target the stretch along the quad.  B) Allowing the hips to draw forward and down to the floor will target the stretch deep into the hip flexors.  Some people might even get more into the hip by keeping their hands on the floor and sinking the hips low.

 

 

 

#4 – Garudasana – Eagle Arms

**If you want full Garudasana, google it, we’re only focusing on the arms**

Anyone out there where a pack? Ever feel like a 70 year old getting out of bed when you take that thing off after a long run? How about stage racers, how heavy was your pack last race?  I think you’re getting the point, runners’ shoulders can get pretty tight and we rarely pay attention to them.  Truth is, tight muscles in and around the shoulders, chest and back can restrict the expansion of your ribs and therefore your breath as well.

 eagle arm preparation yoga for runners eagle arms yoga pose for runners eagle arm variation yoga

 

 

Eagle arms can be done standing up straight, sitting up straight, in a wide legged forward fold, and even at your desk or in your car!!!

 

 

 

This one is simple, take your right arm and swing it under your left (imagine stacking the centre of your humorous bones), and interlace your forearms as your point them up to the sky.  You may only be able to connect the backs of your hands together, or you might have no problem bringing your palms to touch.  Where ever your are, keep the elbows lifted to shoulder height, and when that begins to feel comfortable, try pressing your forearms away from your face.  Hold this one for 30 seconds to a minute, and repeat on your other side!

 

If you have any questions or comments on these postures feel free to comment below, or send us an email at [email protected]  If you’ve found these postures helpful, we’d love for you to share them with your run groups!!:)

 

Run Free and never let tight muscles hold you back;)

Mel’n’Jon

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

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