Running and Yoga: The Perfect Pair
Yoga is an activity many people now associate with running. The yoga trend has boomed over the past 5 years, with new incarnations from bikram to snowga taking the world by storm. It’s gained popularity among all sorts of people from hippies to city workers, mummies to students, and runners too. Why runners? Forget the cliché of people solely doing yoga to feel connected to their body, to others, to life. Granted this can be one of the reasons, but the appeal for runners (largely) resides in the fact there are certain types of yoga and specific yoga poses that can target the muscle groups used most in running, to help correct imbalances and improve your form. Yoga is not just about stretching, but also about strengthening. I remember my first yoga session with Morgan, a qualified yoga teacher and ultra-runner (you’ll spot her in the pictures below) – I left the studio after an hour working on different poses, and felt as if I’d just left the gym. Knackered!
Greater flexibility, improved fitness and better focus: this is what you can gain from yoga. Identify what your weaknesses are and work on them with yoga poses. For instance, I suffered from lower back pain during some of my ultra runs. Poses like the Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana) really helped to alleviate the pain, release tension in the body and promote greater ease of movement.
Start off with these 5 yoga poses for runners:
1. Hero Pose (Virasana)
Great for: Post-run recovery
Description: It is a fantastic pose for stretching tight quads, but also for healing knee injuries (as long as you work high; on bricks as per the second photo). Engage the inner thighs: start with knees together, feet apart, slowly lower buttocks to the ground. If you feel resistance or pain, you need to stop and place brick upon brick under your buttocks, keeping knees together until you can sit comfortably on something. Press feet to the ground.
If you’re unsure of what to do with upper body, you can stretch your arms above your head making sure you draw belly in to keep lower back long and safe, or sit with palms up on lap (as per photo).
Note: People with inflexible front ankle will struggle to go flat footed (first photo) so you will need to roll up a mat or a towel and place under tops of ankles/feet for ease of the pose.
2. Standing Wide Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Great for: Great pose for releasing and relaxing the upper body and stretching the inner legs while strengthening the outer legs.
Description: Stand with feet as wide as you can and keep legs straight. Press feet down firmly. Bring hands to the ground and walk backwards, keeping arms bent. Use bricks if needed.
3. Tranquillity Pose
Great for: Great for releasing the upper back and relaxing legs.
Description: This pose will help you releasing the upper back and relaxing your legs. You need to start with you leg straight, forming a 90 degrees angle (see picture 1). Then, slowly lift your hips up and move your legs towards your chest (while keeping your legs straight). This pose will make your work on your core as well!
4. Seated Forward Bend (Pachimottanasana)
Great for: Great stretch for the back and backs of legs.
Description: Sitting with legs straight (reach into heels), extend the spine, keeping the head and heart lifted, looking forwards. Bring hands to the feet (or use a belt if hands don’t reach the feet).
5. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Great for: Very useful to stretch passively the inner thighs.
Description: Relax on your back with feet together and knees relaxed apart, allow hips to relax gently. Support thighs with bricks or pillows if desired.
If you want to watch the demo videos of our wonderful Dundee team performing these yoga poses and more, then head over to the video section on Dundee’s Facebook page: facebook.com/Run4ItDundee/videos/
Fancy trying yoga to improve your run? 3 of our shops offer weekly yoga classes, open to all abilities:
Run4It Aberdeen – classes every Monday (6:30pm – 7:30pm) and every Friday (7:30am – 8:30am) with Ali & Pam
Run4It Dundee – class every Wednesday (6pm) with Morgan
Run4It Giffnock – classes every Tuesday (6:15pm – 7:15pm) and every Thursday (7:15pm – 8:45pm) with Sarah