Saturday, June 21, 2014

Yoga for Runners

As I've mentioned before, I've been teaching yoga for ten years now and I love every minute of it!  I teach at a country club and the people that I get in my classes are a little older but still very athletic.  I get a lot of runners, bicyclists, and people who are just fitness fanatics and in good shape.  Throughout the years I've noticed an on going pattern... These active people all suffer from tight hips and hamstrings.  I spend a lot of my class focusing on this area of the body and decided to do a post on some of my favorite yoga poses for runners.  I have so many written down but narrowed it down to my top 10.

But before we get into the poses, I want to explain to you why it's so important for runners to incorporate a little bit of yoga into their workout routine.
Yoga is the perfect compliment to running!  It helps with the strength and flexibility in the muscles you use while you are running.  The main muscles we are talking about are the hamstrings, core, hip flexors, and quads.  Keeping these muscles flexible and strong helps to prevent injury so you can run longer and more efficiently.

One thing I have noticed with my athletic yogis is it's hard for them to let go of competition and just be happy with where your body is during the stretch.  They tend to look at the person next to them and that competitiveness comes out.  Remember some yoga poses take years to master so stay connected to your inner self and enjoy the process.  There is no prize for stretching the farthest!  Remember we are practicing yoga to compliment your running and to avoid injury... so don't overdo it!

Most injuries are caused by an imbalance in the body.  Our bodies are amazing and will start compensating for any discomfort or injury that your experiencing so when this starts happening, we put added stress on your "good" muscles, joints, and entire body.  Another benefit of yoga, is it helps you recover faster by preventing a build up of scar tissue.

Yoga also teaches you to listen to your body.  After working out, your body releases endorphins which makes you feel good and can mask any pain your experiencing.  If you are use to being more in tune with your body, you will know when it's time to rest and when it's ok to push yourself.

Being aware of your breathing helps to reduce tension, which can lead to injury.

To make the most of your yoga practice, start incorporating some poses into your warm up and/or cool down.

I hope after reading this, you understand why its so important to incorporate some yoga into your life!

Hold each pose for 5-10 nice long breaths.  Remember to relax into the pose... and let go of any competition, or stress you may feel.


Start in a standing position.  With a straight back, slowly begin to bend from the hips as you come into forward fold.  If your hands can't touch the ground, that's ok!  Place them on your shins or bend you knees.  Relax the face and think of elongating the back of your legs.  Pull the knee caps up towards the thighs and the thighs up toward the hips.


Start in a standing position with the legs a little wider than hips width apart.  Turn your front foot out and place your hands in a T position.  Slowly begin to hinge from the hips, reaching the front hand towards the ground and the back hand towards the ceiling.  Draw the shoulder blades away from the ears.  Find your balance by first looking at the ground, and then slowly begin to bring your gaze up toward the ceiling.  Make sure to repeat on the other side.


If you only have time for one pose before or after your run, this is the pose I would suggest.  If you have tight hamstrings it can be pretty intense, but take your time and breathe.  Again, it doesn't matter if your hands go all the way the ground.  It might feel better for you to place your hands on your front shin.  Breathe.  Keep your hips even... pretend you have books on your hips and don't let them slide off!  


From pyramid pose, line your opposite hand with your pinky toe (For example, in this picture, I have my right leg in front so I lined my left pinky finger in line with my right pinky toe.)  Reach the other hand up towards the ceiling and think of twisting from the belly button.  This pose is not only an intense stretch but it also challenges your balance!  Again, if you can't touch the ground comfortably, place your bottom hand on your shin.


Start in a lunge position.  Place your back knee on the floor and allow your hips to sink forward.  You might decide that this is where you want to stay in this stretch.  From here, reach your arm (closest to your front leg) up toward the ceiling.  (So if your in a right lunge, reach your right arm up.)  If you knees feel good, begin to bend your back knee, so the toe is pointing up toward the ceiling.  Begin to reach your top arm behind you and reach for the foot.  Allow yourself to sink the hips forward a little more, always relaxing the face and taking nice long breaths.


From your lunge position, slowly begin to straighten your front foot, flexing the toes.  Stay up on the back knee at first and take a couple of breaths.  If your knees feel good, begin to lower your hip all the way back so your sitting on the foot.  Reach your arms towards the front foot and breath.


Place the bottoms of the feet together and open up the feet like your opening up a book.  Allow the knees to sink towards the ground and breathe.  If it feels good to you, you can begin to lean forward.


Ok this pose is super intense for me, but it's one of my favorite.  Begin in a cross legged position.  Place one foot on top of the knee, begin to allow gravity to work on pulling the top knee closer to the bottom knee.  If you want, begin to lean forward, keeping the sitz bones down into the ground.
The key to this pose is making sure the bottom foot is pulled away from the body.  If the foot is to close to your booty, you won't get as good of a stretch.


This is another pose I have a love/hate relationship with.  Start in an all fours position.  Bring one knee forward and begin to reach back as far as you can with that back foot.  Slowly begin to lower your head the ground.  Make sure your trying to keep your hips even by pressing your front hip back and your back leg hip forward.


This is the perfect pose to practice after your run.  Find a wall and just scootch your booty as close to is as you can.  Place the legs up and relax.  After all that pounding we do to our feet, it's good to give them a break. 

There you have it!  Hope you find these poses beneficial! 

My little Campbell wanted to get in on the yoga action too!

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  1. Aww my favorite part's the baby. ;) Thanks for sharing. Hello from the Healthy Happy Green and Natural Party Hop!

  2. Number 5 I can see being really beneficial. I add in #7 after all my workouts. Great resource. Pinned! =)