A few great yoga poses for runners to improve flexibility, reduce injury as well as to keep your focus and attention in the training. While going into these poses, you may experiencing some tightness and pain. Acknowledge them, but do not push into the pain. Over time, you will see improvement, specifically in your flexibility.
Have fun and never give up!!
1. Downward Facing Dog ( Adho Mukha Svanasana)
i. Begin with your hands and knees on the mat, align your wrists under your shoulder, knees hip-width apart under the hip.
ii. Press into your palms and tuck into your toes and lift the knees off the mat.
iii. Gently straighten your legs by pressing your heels into the floor. This will allow you to bring your hips towards the ceiling. If you can’t bring the heels down into the floor, you may need to bent your knees slightly until you can achieve the full pose.
– Concentrate in lengthening your torso
– Pressing down through your palms but pull up your upper arms.
– All fingers are equally spread
Benefits: Hamstrings and calves stretch, lengthening the spine, strong foot arches.
2. Low Lunge ( Anjaneyasana)
i. From Downward Facing Dog, lunge right leg forward in between your hands, align your knees over your heels.
ii. Lower the left knee down on the mat and flex toes to the back. Roll your left inner thigh out so that your left heel and left hamstrings are aligned.
iii. Inhale, bring both palms up towards the ceiling. Bring your tailbone down towards the hip and pubic, and towards your navel. Lift the chest, press into your shoulder blades and take your shoulder away from your ears.
iv. Exhale, bring both palms down, tuck your left toes and lift the left knee off the mat and bring your right leg back to downward facing dog.
– Concentrate in squaring the pelvis
– Lift the upper body, draw shoulders back
Benefits: Strengthening the quadriceps, piriformis, and hamstrings muscle. Opening hips and groins.
3. Triangle ( Trikonasana)
i. Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), step your right foot 90 degrees out to the right, left foot 15 degrees in.
ii. Align your right heel with your left inner arch, check that the right knee cap is in line with the second toe of the right foot.
iii. Inhale, bring both arms up to shoulder height, and shift body to the right side from the hip, firm the left outer foot down strongly into the mat.
iv. Exhale, bring your right arm down on the shin, ankle or outside of the right foot, while your left hand towards the ceiling in line with the shoulder, at the same time keep the left torso in line with the left hip. Keep head in the same axis with the spine then gaze up to look at your left palm. Hold from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
v. Inhale, pressing down through the back heel and come back to standing position.
Repeat the same on the left side.
– Do not drop the torso towards the floor, but to be in line with the spine
– Body is bending side way, and not forward or backward
( you may use a yoga block next to your right outer foot to rest your palm down)
Benefits: Stretches hip, hamstrings, calves, spine, inner thigh, shoulder and strengthen the ankles, thighs and knees
4. Reclining Pigeon ( Supta Eka Kapotasana)
i. Lay down on the mat with the back on the floor, bent both knees and bring your left knee and rest your ankle on top of your right thigh, try keeping the left thigh 90 degrees to your shin, and flex the feet. Ensure pelvis is square and both hips are in line. Maintain this alignment.
ii. Bring the right knee to your chest and take the left arm through the triangle. Clasp both hands around the front shin or back of your thigh of the grounded leg, and bring the right knee towards the right shoulder and not to the chest.
iii. At he same time, try to keep the left knee away from you to achieve a deeper stretch.
– If you can’t hold your shin with your hand, use a strap and put a blanket under your hips
– Maintain the head and shoulder on the floor
Benefits: Improves hip flexion and external rotation of hip. Stretches piriformis
5. Reclining Hand to Toe ( Supta Padangustasana)
i. Lay down on the mat with the back on the floor, both legs stretch forward.
ii. Inhale, bend right knee and bring to chest, then hold the right big toe with three fingers inside out.
iii. Exhale, extend the right leg up where the toes are pointing towards you and push the right thigh back. Keep the left leg extended and press strongly on the floor with toes flexing up. Keep both pelvis and hips aligned on the floor. Broaden the shoulder blades.
Hold for 1 minute. Exhale and release.
– As many of us are not able to catch the big toe with the fingers, you may want to use a strap to go around the sole of the extended leg. Hold the strap with both hands, and straighten the leg up to be perpendicular to the floor.
– Always keep the stretched leg pressing strongly on the floor, or pressed against the wall if hip muscles are stiff.
Benefits: Stretches hips, thighs, hamstrings, calves and strengthen the knees.
As always, practice makes perfect. Let me know in the comments below any other yoga poses that you feel are suitable for runners!