Spring is here; the days are longer and The 2015 London Marathon is only weeks away so the runners can be seen at all hours pounding the pavements getting their miles in. Running for some people is a way of clearing their mind and letting off steam in a similar way people turn to yoga. However, running is a high impact sport and if you aren’t stretching enough the body becomes tight which is when we are more likely to get injured.
Yoga is more dynamic than standard stretching and because it has so many poses you may find it more interested than stretching. It can also help you recover from long runs and races faster!
My Top 6 Yoga Poses for Runners
Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This classic yoga pose is excellent for stretching out the calves and back of the legs.
Instructions: From tabletop position on hands and knees, open your fingers wide and place the whole of your palm on the mat.
Tuck your toes under and lift the knees off the floor. Push your hips up and away from your hands. If you have tight hamstrings keep knees bent and focus on lengthening your chest area and keep arms straight.
Press the hands and feet away from each other and then shift your weight into your legs. Begin to lift the 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.
Triangle pose (Trikonasana)
This standing pose is great for stretching the hips and lengthening the inner thighs. It allows you to open and expand the side body where runners move quick vertically.
Instructions: Stand with feet wide apart. Turn left toes in slightly and roll right thigh open to turn your right foot out 90 degrees.
Align your feet on the mat so that the heel of your right front foot is in line with the arch of your left foot. Press down into feet and pull up on your thighs.
Stretch your arms out to your sides at shoulder height. Stretch the torso forward toward your right foot. Place your right hand on your shin, or yoga block
Take five breaths. Then press down into your feet and lift up with your thighs to come to standing.
Repeat on left side.
Pyramid Pose (Parsvottanasana)
Pyramid pose is a lovely stretch for the legs, particularly the hamstrings. It also strengthens the legs.
Instructions: Step your left foot back about 3 feet. Your left toes will pivot in at a 45 degree angle. Your right foot faces forward.
Inhale and stand tall and lean out over the front foot. Hold onto your opposite elbows or back namaste hands behind your back.
Keep the spine straight and long while folding forward over the front straight leg.
Repeat on the other side for 5 -10 breaths.
Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
Stretch the spine, hamstrings and reduce pain in your lower back in this lovely stretch.
Instructions: Sit on your mat, with your legs extended in front of you, heels flexed bringing your toes towards you and spine straight.
Inhale and raise your arms in the air.
Exhale reach your arms forwards to the wall infront and really lengthen the front body over the thighs.
Lean forward and catch your toes or use a belt on the heels. Keep upper body to relax. Engage the quadriceps (by lifting your kneecap). If your hamstrings are tight, you can bend your legs.
Hold for 10 breaths.
Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This is a yummy stretch for the inner legs. This pose will open your hamstrings and calves without straining your lower back.
Instructions: Sitting tall on your mat, bring the soles of your feet together.
Bring your hands to your inner ankles and keep the elbows in towards the body. Sit tall, rolling the shoulders back, and gaze past the end of the nose.
Lean forward for a deeper stretch and hold for 10 breaths. Fold further forward with a straight back to enhance the stretch if needed.
Seated Wide Angle Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)
This pose stretches the hamstrings and calves; the forward fold straightens and lengthens the spine.
Instructions: From Bound Angle pose (above), extend your legs out to either side of you. Sit up on a foam block if you feel you aren’t able to sit up straight.
If you can straighten the legs, flex the feet and draw the thighs up. Lean forward slightly and place your hands on the mat. If this is too much place the hands behind you on the finger tips. Bend your knees as much as you need to, and bring the legs closer together if needed.
Hold for 10 breaths.
Last but not least, always finish your practice in corpse pose, even if it is just for one minute as it allows the nervous system to relax.