Yoga for Runners
For runners, Yoga can be a great way to help the muscles recover after a long run or vigorous training. When practicing yoga after a particularly long run, it is important not to over exert or hurry movements. It might be an idea to place pillows onto the yoga mat for additional support. These movements are intended as a warm-down and not as additional exercise in and of themselves. They should be carried out slowly and carefully.
1 – The Squat
With feet and legs together, hold the body in a squatting position. This can help to encourage flexibility in the hamstring muscles and to rebalance the body. When this exercise is completed for weight-loss a hold time of over 1 minute is recommended. In this situation, 30 seconds will be sufficient. Many runners might prefer to place pillows underneath themselves for a little additional support.
2 – The Child
The Child is a very comfortable, relaxation exercise ideal for after vigorous exercise. Place pillows on the ground and lean over them, with folded knees on either side. This position helps to gently stretch the muscles in the knees, legs and back.
3 – Prone Position Twist
Starting in The Child position, keep the knees together and twist to the side. After a couple of minutes in this position, return to the starting position of The Child and repeat in the opposite direction.
4 – Back Bend
Lie flat on the ground, facing upwards with legs together and straight. Place pillows behind the upper back and shoulders, so the torso is positioned at a slight upwards angle (about 45 degrees). This position helps to stretch the muscles around the spine and gently encourage flexibility in the abdominal muscles.
5 – Side bend.
Again, place pillows on the ground. Lie across them on the side, with legs straight and arms straight above the head. Repeat on the other side of the body. This position gently stretches the muscles in the shoulder and neck, as well as the muscle groups around the rib cage.
6 – L-Shape Prop
This is one of the most relaxing yoga positions for runner. Lie on the floor close to a wall, place some pillows on the ground to create comfort for the back, neck and shoulders. Rest the legs upwards, straight against the wall, so that the body resembled a back to front letter L.
Many of these warm-down exercises can double up as great warm-up and stretching exercises before a run. Try The Squat without the supporting pillows, for example. Also, many of the preparatory movements that proceed a yoga session are great general warm-ups for other form of exercise. Two of these that can translate for runners are:
– Place both arms together, straight out in front of you. Gently bend down, whilst keeping the arms straight and touch the floor. Extend up again, reaching the hands above the head, keeping arms straight at all times.
– Standing with hands on the hips, twist the upper part of the body to the left and to the right, whilst keeping the head and hips facing forwards.
Many yoga movements focus on stretching, so can be ideal for runners.