|Yoga postures Parshvottanasana (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Running and yoga can compliment each other nicely, even though yoga will often stretch out the muscles and running can tighten them. However, the right combination of yoga poses can help you stretch out and loosen your muscles for your run.
While you're running, use your yoga training and breathe in yoga style (pranayama), which will help keep your breathing steady. The repetitive motion allows you to keep your mind clear and focus on what you're doing. Adding some motivational music makes your running routine just like yoga- stress-free and relaxing.
Before starting this workout, you will need a yoga mat, yoga block, and a yoga strap or towel to execute these poses. Some precautions include:
- Do not start any physical activity without clearance from your doctor.
- Poses are not intended for pregnant women.
- Poses should be done in a slow and controlled manner to get the full benefit of the stretch. You should never bounce or force a pose, which can lead to your muscles tightening. If you are in pain, you've gone too far.
- This yoga routine can be incorporated as a post-run stretching routine. It can be done any time of day, but if you're going to do it separate of a run, make sure to do a 10 minute cardio warm-up.
- These poses are for those with tight hamstrings and hips, a commonality among runners.
- A breath is considered one full inhalation and one full exhalation through the nose. Hold each pose for five breaths.
- Butterfly/Cobbler stretch (Baddha Konasana). This pose opens the groin and hips, stretching the inner thighs. Leaning forward stretches the back. Sit tall on your mat and bring the soles of your feet together. Interlace your fingers and put them around your toes. Roll your shoulders back and lean forward for a deeper stretch. With every inhale try to go deeper- imagine the crown of your head touching the wall. Try to touch your chest to the floor, if possible.
- Seated Wide Angle Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana). This pose stretches the calves and hamstrings, while the forward fold straightens and lengthens the spine. From butterfly pose, extend your legs to either side of you at a 90 degree angle. If you are able to straighten your legs, flex your feet and lift your kneecaps to keep the knees from locking. Lean forward slightly and place your hands on the mat. Feel your spine growing longer and with every breath try to touch your chest to the floor.
- Cow-Face Fold (Gomukhasana). This pose is perfect for stretching the piriformis, a muscle deep in your glutes, as well as your hips and the IT band. From a seated position, bring your left foot back to your right hip, stack your right knee over your left knee, and put your right foot by your left hip. Grab your feet with your hands and lean forward slightly. For a deeper stretch, flex your feet. To intensify the stretch you can place your hands on the floor in front of you and lean forward. Repeat on the other side.
- Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold (Prasarita Padottanasana). This pose opens the hips and stretches the hamstrings. Turn to the right and step your feet about hip's length apart. Turn your heels out and your feet in, pretending you're pigeon-toed. Inhale and stretch your arms out to a T. Exhale and fold forward, taking your hands to the mat or a yoga block. Let your head hand down, allowing your spine to stretch. After five breaths roll up slowly and engage your abs.
- Standing Forward Stretch with "Ragdoll" Arms (Uttanasana). This pose stretches the hamstrings and straightens the spine. Stand with your feet hip's length apart and put your hands on your hips. Exhale and lean forward. If you can stretch your legs, grab your elbows with the opposite hand. If you can't stretch your legs place your hands on a yoga block or a chair. Let your head hang.
- Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana). This pose strengthens the legs, especially the hamstrings. Step your left foot back about 3 feet and turn your toes in at a 45 degree angle. Your right foot should be facing forward. Inhale and lean over your front foot. Drop your forehead so it's facing your leg. With every exhale let your body sink lower with your forehead closer to your leg. Inhale and roll up slowly Repeat on the other side.
- Figure 4 Pose (Sucirandhrasana). This pose stretches the outer hips and inner thighs. Lie on your back on the mat and bring your knees in to your chest at a 90 degree angle. Put your right ankle on your left thigh, interlace your fingers and place them behind your left thigh, pulling it closer to your chest. Hold for five breaths and repeat on the other side.
- Half Lord of the Fishes Twist (Ardha Matseyendrasana). This pose stretches the shoulders, neck, hips, and IT band. Sit with your legs out in front of you. Cross your right foot over your left leg and put it outside your left thigh. Bend your left knee and put it near your right buttock. Place your right hand on the mat, just behind your buttock. Inhale and lift your left arm in the air by your left ear. Exhale and twist, bringing your left elbow to outside the right knee. Look over your right shoulder To release, inhale, look forward, and release your arms and uncross your legs. Repeat on the other side.
- Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottansana). This pose stretches the spine, hamstring, and back. Sit on the mat with your legs extended in front of you with heels flexed. Inhale and raise arms in the air. Exhale, lean forward, and try to touch your toes. Let your arms rest at your thighs, shins, or at your ankles. Let your head drop and your upper body to relax. If you can straighten your legs flex your feet and lift your kneecap to avoid your knee locking. With every exhale allow the body to sink lower.
- Head to Knee Stretch (Janu Sirasana A). This pose is good for stretching the hamstrings. From the previous pose slide your right foot inside your left thigh, the right knee at a 90 degree angle. Center your body over the extended left leg and exhale as you let your body sink to the leg. Flex the extended foot and reach for your toes. Inhale as you roll up slowly and repeat on the opposite side.
- Hero Pose (Virasana). This pose stretches the quadriceps and ankles. In a kneeling position, keep your knees together but separate your feet and let your buttocks rest on the floor. Roll your calves away from your thighs to get comfortable.
- Child's Pose (Balasana). This pose stretches the hips, ankles, and thighs and is helpful in relieving back pain. From the hero pose, lower your torso to the floor. Your stomach will rest on or between your thighs and your forehead will reach for the floor. Stretch out your arms in front of you to feel a stretch in your back. Stretch your arms alongside the body, with fingertips reaching for your toes to feel a stretch in your shoulders.
- Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani). This pose stretches the hamstrings and allows blood that has accumulated in the feet to recirculate in the body. Sit next to a wall and lie on your back, bringing your knees to your chest. Straighten your legs and put them on the wall while getting your bottom as close to the wall as possible. Extend your arms overhead on the floor for an added stretch.
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