As many of you know, yoga is a key part of my fitness routine. I first started doing yoga as something to help improve my running. I figured that it would be a good way to work on my flexibility and breathing. Yoga also offers many other benefits including improved balance, conditioning, coordination, and mind-body awareness.
While my yoga practice has become about more than just the physical asanas or postures, it is still an important aspect of my practice. After I return home from a run, I often spend about 10-15 minutes flowing through different poses. I prefer that to plain old stretching.
A few people have asked me to share some of my favorite yoga poses for running. Below are 6 yoga poses that I typically do after a run. They target the key muscles used for running and thus, the ones that are most likely in need of some love – hamstrings, calves, hip flexors, ankles and groin.
Disclaimer: I am NOT a certified yoga instructor. Please exercise caution and be mindful of your own body. These views are mine alone, based on my own experiences. Please use props such as blankets, a yoga block (or 2!) and/or a yoga strap as needed. Always consult a certified yoga instructor for additional guidance and assistance.
After I come home from a run, one of the first poses I take is some form of standing forward fold to stretch out my hamstrings. One of my favorite variations is rag doll. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, bend over and grasp opposite elbows. Slightly bend your knees and let the weight of your arms and head fold you over. This is a great pose for your hamstrings and it helps to loosen your back.
Downward Facing Dog is probably one of the most recognizable yoga poses. It’s great for your hamstrings, calves, ankles and it opens up your shoulders. Before settling fully into the pose, I like to bend my knees and pedal through my feet at first to stretch my calves first.
There are a couple of variations of downward facing dog that you could take. The most common is 3-legged dog where you lift up one leg straight-up back and behind you. You can keep the leg straight or you can bend at the knee and let the leg fall behind you. This helps to open up your hip flexors.
The other variation I like is a downdog twist. It offers a great stretch along your hamstring and your whole side of your body. This pose is a bit more intense so don’t rush into it.
Triangle pose helps to lengthen your hamstrings and calves and stretches your hips, IT band and outer shins. The twist helps to open up your shoulders, chest and spine. Make sure that the heel of your front foot lines up with the arch of your back foot. You can always use a block under your hand that touches the floor if you can’t quite reach the floor.
Extended side angle helps to create length and extension in your body. It strengthens and stretches your legs, knees and ankles. It’s a great stretch for your inner thighs. You can always use a block underneath the hand that’s on the floor or take your forearm to your thigh (instead of extending it down to the floor).
There are also a few different variations of extended side angle that you could take. You can extend your top arm out along the side of your head towards the front or you can take a half or full bind.
Lizard pose, oh how my hip flexors hate you even though they know you’re really good for them. Step your foot forward to a low lunge. Bring your hands or forearms to the floor (you can also place them on the block). You can have your back knee on the ground or lifted (for a more active pose). You can either keep your foot planted flat on the ground or you can roll on to the edge of your foot like in the bottom right picture above. This helps open up your hips a bit more.
I usually end with Pigeon Pose. It’s one of my favorites. It’s main focus is the thighs and the hips. If your hips don’t touch the ground, please use a folded blanket or a block to help support your hip (on the side with the bent knee).
What are some of your favorite post-run stretches?
- You might also like: Yoga for Runners – Part 2
Disclaimer: I am NOT a certified yoga instructor. Please exercise caution and be mindful of your own body. These views are mine alone, based on my own experiences. Always consult a professional for additional guidance and assistance. Please use props such as blankets, a yoga block (or 2!) and/or a yoga strap as needed.
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