The Yoga Practice Every Runner Needs: Part Two

The second installment of our collaboration with LA yoga teacher, Ryann Hanes. 

This post comes from our friend and yoga teacher, Ryann.

In life, the goal is to keep it balanced. What better way to balance your run than with some calming, muscle opening yoga postures to help keep your run swift, muscles limber, and body feeling good. Today we will work on lengthening some of those muscles that you work while running.

Here are 4 postures to add to your running ritual, and the previous 4 postures we worked on last week.

Wide Legged Forward Bend Version D

Taking your run on pavement can jar your spine and lessen the space between your vertebre. This posture stretches the spine and allows gravity to create space in the spinal column. The fold in this posture helps to stretch the back and inside of the legs, opens the hips and can help relieve low back tension when knees are bent in the fold.

Begin standing on your mat. Bring your feet wider than hips width distance apart with your toes facing forward.

Take a full breath in. With your exhale, find a small bend in your legs and slowly fold forward, drawing your ribs toward your thighs.

Grab hold of your big toes with your pointer finger and thumb (thumb is on top and should be pressing into your big toe nail).

Relax the crown of your head down and soften your face as you breath in this posture. Take 5 breaths in this posture.

Note: If touching your toes isn’t available, you can still get all the great benefits of this posture with a strap or a t-shirt. Simply place the strap or tshirt under your foot and use the excess length to draw your torso towards your thighs, or- just fold over and let your body relax!

Transition: With your inhale, bend your knees, look forward and rise up half way, exhale bring your hands to your hips. Inhale, press through your feet to rise all the way up to standing.

Extended Triangle Pose

This posture helps you to build a strong yet flexible core. It stretches your muscles around the knee joints and the ankle joints- two joints that take on the majority of your body’s weight while running. Extended Triangle also stretches and opens the hips and groin muscles- an area that often becomes stiff with extended exertion. When running there can be a tendency to feel strain in the chest and shoulders from hunching forward. This posture opens the chest and lengthens the shoulders- a perfect compliment to the typical running form.

Transition: From Wide Legged Forward Bend Version D: After you rise up to standing, pivot your right foot so that it is parallel to the long edge of your mat (feet can be 3-4 feet apart).

Extend your arms out to a “T” with the palm of your hands facing the floor.

Lift your knee caps so that your quads (the front of your thighs) are activated. Take a full breath in.

Exhale, slowly tip your right hand and shoulder down towards your foot as you reach your left arm up.

Note: Your right hand can rest on the floor in front or behind your front foot or on a block. If you want to work your core, you can float your hand off of the floor and use your core to hold your torso up.

Your gaze can follow the hand looking upward or you can look straight ahead (whatever feels best on your neck).

Press down through your outer left foot to find as much length as possible.

Draw your shoulders away from your ears and work to rotate your left lung and rib cage up to the ceiling so that your spine is finding a twist. Draw your core inward and breathe. Take 5 breaths on this side in this posture.

Transition: Inhale, Engage your quads by lifting your knee caps and press through your feet to rise all the way up to standing. Repeat Extended Triangle on the left side.

Modified Cow Face Pose

Although this pose is restorative in nature, it is incredibly challenging to stick with it.
This posture gives a deep stretch of hips, ankles and thighs. Space and flexibility in the hips and glutes allow runner to push harder for speed.

Transition: From standing, find a seat on your mat. Place your bent right knee over your bent left knee while keeping both sit bones on your mat.

Work towards stacking your knees right on top of each other.

Note: Option here to put a block or a rolled up blanket underneath your seat to make this posture more accessible and to take the pressure off of the knee joints.

Flex your feet. Relax your shoulders away from your ears. Option to press your hands into your top thigh or lean forward. Relax jaw and eyebrows as you breathe. Take 8 breaths in this posture.

Transition: Gently straighten both legs out in front of you and wiggle around before repeating this posture with this opposite knee on top.

Kneeling Pose + Side Stretch

This pose encourages length in the spine and healthy posture. Healthy posture allows more space in the chest cavity for the lungs to expand. As a runner, postures like this one will help you to create space so that you can maximize breath capacity and grow space in your spine and side-body.

Transition: Bring your knees together and slowly sit back onto your heels.

Note: If this feels uncomfortable on your knees or tops of feet, you can sit on a block or a rolled up blanket.

Extend through your spine, sitting up as tall as possible. Draw your shoulders away from your ears.
Relax your throat and eyes.

Inhale, reach your arms up over your head, while continuing to draw your shoulders away from your ears.

Grab your left wrist with your right hand.

Exhale, gently tip over to the right while keep your hips, shoulders and head stable. Continue to breathe as you find space from your left hip all the way up through your left arm pit.

Inhale, return back to center. Exhale, repeat with the opposite side. Spend 10-12 breaths stretching each side.

As with everything, not all poses are appropriate for everybody. Please consult your physician before starting a new exercise routine!

You can learn more tips and poses at @ryannyoga on Snap Chat and Instagram or visit Ryann’s website

Free People Blog