Running is a great way to get fit while blowing off some major steam. But as awesome as that runner’s high is, running can wreak havoc on our muscles and joints. So to counter that intense pounding of the pavement, kick off your shoes and restore some balance to your body. Incorporate cross-training into your running regimen to prevent injury and aid in recovery. Yoga is a wonderful way to get your body moving differently and keep it moving. Help preserve your body by integrating this short yoga sequence designed specifically for runners into your life 2-3x a week and thrive!
Tackle these poses after a short warm up such as a light jog or another basic yoga flow. Try to hold each pose for a cycle of 5-8 breaths and repeat the entire sequence 3x on each side. You will feel and experience some intensity in many of these poses, but keep breathing and ease up as needed.
- Low Lunge
Benefits: Stretches hamstrings, quadriceps, and groin. Releases tension in the hips and strengthens the knees. Other cool facts: Cultivates balance and helps build mental focus and clarity.
The Deal: Start in a runner’s lunge with your hands framing the front foot. Make sure that the knee and ankle are stacked, and in line with the first 2 front toes—be careful to make sure that the knee slides forward past the ankle to protect the knee. Scissoring the thighs together, sweep the arms above the head while focusing on stacking the vertebrae.
Modifications: Rest the hands softly on the front knee, keep the hands on your waist, or join the hands in prayer at the heart.
Variations: Join the hands together above your head, and/or drop the hands behind the head, with the elbows aimed towards the sky cradling the head for more of a backbend.
- Quad stretch
The Deal: From your runner’s lunge, carefully lower the hands back down to the earth to frame your foot again. With your left foot remaining forward, slowly drop your right knee to the ground. With the right arm remaining planted, circle the left arm back and reach for your toes. When coming out of this pose be careful to slowly release the leg down towards the earth.
Modifications: If reaching for your toes is challenging, use a yoga strap hooked around your foot as you gently pull your foot towards your body. If you experience knee tenderness, place a blanket under your back leg.
Variations: To intensify this stretch, lower onto your forearm.
- Revolved Lunge Pose
Benefits: Stretches the psoas and hips, stimulates strengthening and stretching of the quadriceps and gluteus muscles. Other cool facts: Stimulates abdominal organs, improves digestions and elimination, and improves balance.
The Deal: From your runner’s lunge, bring the hands to your heart in prayer. Twist at the navel and bring the right tricep across your body to the outside of your left thigh. Press the top hand into the bottom hand and peel the right rib cage towards the sky.
Modifications: If taking the twist is challenging, try manually moving the right arm across the body with assistance from the left hand to find some depth. Also, if you have a neck injury, keep the gaze down.
Variations: Straighten the back leg to work your balance in a different capacity and/or open your arms.
- Pyramid Pose
The Deal: From your runner’s low lunge, shorten your stance by walking the right leg in towards the left so that both heels can touch the ground. Turn the right toes away from the body slightly for stability. Bring the hands to your waist and lift yourself up to standing by straightening the left leg. Bring the hands to prayer at your heart and lower with with a flat back, placing your palms on the ground.
Modifications: If your palms do not reach the floor, you may come to your fingertips, or place your hands on blocks. You may also keep a flat back if lowering all the way down is too intense and/or keep your hands at your waist.
Variations: Bring the hands in prayer behind you for reverse Namaste or prayer.
- Standing Pigeon
Benefits: Increases mobility and range of motion by relieving tension and discomfort in the hip area. Strengthens knee and ankle joints, as well as the thigh muscles. Other cool facts: Increases circulation.
The Deal: From your pyramid pose, bring the back foot to the front of your mat. With the hands at your heart, lift the right leg towards the sky by bending the knee and flexing the toes. Bend into the left knee and carefully lower the right ankle atop the left thigh. Keep a deep bend in the standing leg.
Modifications: Take this pose laying on your back and thread the left hand through the opening in the legs, then met the right hand by interlacing your fingers. Gently press the thigh into the clasped hands.
Variations: Play with the arms—lift them to the sky or bring them straight in front of you. You can also hold onto something stable to sit back into and intensify the hip stretch.