Yoga has become a pivotal part of my fitness journey as a runner. It is both restorative and a stress buster. But it also packs serious perks for runners – like improving flexibility, easing aches and pains and expediting recovery from long runs and races. These 3 poses can help you stay strong and balanced while you train, and are perfect additions to your stretch and recovery routine.
INSTRUCTIONS | Start on hands and knees. Place your palms in front of your shoulders. Tuck your toes under and lift knees off floor. Pull your hips up and back away from your hands. Keep knees bent and focus on lengthening your torso — press down into your hands, pull up on your arms — then shift your weight onto your legs. Without losing that sense of direction or length in your torso, begin to lift thighs up as you reach your heels back and down, which will straighten your knees. Engage your quads by pulling your kneecaps up. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Lightly lower both knees back to floor.
BENEFITS | Downward Facing Dog stretches the hamstrings and calves, and creates length in the spine
BOUND ANGLE POSE
INSTRUCTIONS | Sitting on floor, bend your knees and touch soles of your feet together. Start by placing your hands behind you for support, lengthening your spine up toward ceiling. If your knees are high off floor, or if you feel like your tailbone is being pulled underneath you, try sitting on a folded blanket. Think about spreading your inner thighs open toward inner knees, and imagine drawing outer knees toward outer hips. Place your hands on your ankles and hinge forward over your feet. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Come back up to sitting and use your hands to close your knees together.
BENEFITS | Bound Angle is great for opening the inner thighs.
INSTRUCTIONS | Lie on your abdomen, facing floor. Bend your elbows and place your hands on mat in line with your lower ribs, wrists aligned under your elbows. Reach legs back and press tops of your feet down into the floor. Press down into your hands and straighten arms, pulling your chest up toward ceiling and lifting fronts of your thighs and hips away from floor. Take a few breaths, and roll back down.
Modify this pose by keeping your toes tucked instead of pointed, which will help activate and lift your thighs. If your lower back feels tight, rest your knees on the mat, which will help lengthen your tailbone.
BENEFITS | Up Dog opens the hip flexors and stretches the whole front of the body. It’s also a chest and shoulder opener, which can help expand breathing.