Running is a high impact exercise. Every time your feet hit the floor, your joints take a force that is 3-4 times your body weight. If you have any biomechanical imbalances, you can quickly experience pain which may lead to injury. Yoga for runners can help you overcome this by allowing you to build strength, flexibility, and mobility.
We caught up with yoga teacher Phoebe Jones to talk about yoga for runners and learn how adding yoga to your training allows you to enjoy a better balanced, more efficient run.
Yoga for Runners
Yoga is a wonderful compliment to running and can offer runners many benefits.
Firstly, the physical aspect creates long, lean and strong muscles. Next, the mental aspect assists with the ability to focus and to stay calm. Finally, the breath aspect means the body can cope with fatigue and also keep oxygen moving through the body and the tissues.
Here are a few of my favourite yoga poses for runners to include in their training.
Warm Up & Flexibility Training
1) Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar)
Sun salutations are a great way to prepare for a run. They involve a series of movements that includes downward facing dog, cobra pose, and a forward fold over the legs.
These movements provide the perfect dynamic warm up for a run.
Sun salutations get the circulation moving through the tissues, lengthen the muscles, and also creates a perfect balance between steadiness and ease in movement.
2) Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
This posture highlights the need for length in the legs and strength in the torso. It also allows you to open and expand laterally.
- Prepare for this pose by firstly standing with feet wide
- Turn the left foot 90 degrees outwards so the thigh rolls out, aligning knees and toes
- Next turn the right foot inwards slightly, press down through the feet and pull up the thighs
- Inhale and stretch the arms out shoulder height, stretching the torso toward your left foot
- Reach the right arm to the sky and let the left arm rest somewhere on the left leg
- Finally, take 5 slow breaths looking to expand and open the entire body, then switch sides
Low Lunge (Anjenyasana)
One of our most primal muscles responsible for our ability to run is the psoas muscle, which connects the legs to the torso.
This muscle needs to be strong but also long and lean so our running can be in a state of ease rather than locked up and in a state of stress.
Due to the linear nature of running, this is a highly beneficial posture to release the psoas and hip flexors afterwards.
- Standing with feet together, firstly take a big step back with the left leg and lower the knee to the ground
- Ensure both legs, knees and toes are aligned with the hips and your right knee is vertically aligned with the right heel
- Next, press both hands into the right thigh, so that the torso can be as upright as possible
- Lengthen the tailbone down to the ground, pull in the belly and relax the shoulders
- Finally breathe 5 slow breaths down the length of your left front side over the hip, then switch sides
Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
This pose is a hip opener as well as a strengthening posture for the legs. This posture is therefore great before or after a run.
It takes care of the muscles and tissues around the hip joint and also encourages the chest to open to feel the full benefit of the shape.
- Similar to the low lunge, firstly step the left foot back, but keep the knee lifted
- Bring the right hand to the inside of the right foot and turn the right toes outward about 45 degrees
- Next, make sure the left leg, knees and toes are aligned with the hip, and strengthen that leg by lifting the thigh
- Palms aligned under the shoulders, inhale and move the chest forward to lengthen the spine
- Roll the right knee and thigh outward and shift the weight around to feel the opening of the hip and right groin
- Finally, take 5 slow breaths and repeat on the other side
Yoga for Runners Bonus Tip: Breathwork
Breathwork is of huge benefit to your running.
It allows you to keep the chest lifted and open which reduces fatigue and supports the aerobic fitness of the body. It also helps you move in to that meditative state that a run can offer.
A few rounds of square breathing assists the lengthening of the inhales and exhales. The pause supports equanimity of the mind.
- Start by exhaling all the breath out of your body
- Inhale in as you count to 4
- Pause with the lungs full and count to 4
- Exhale slowly and controlled, counting to 4
- Pause with empty lungs and count to 4
- Repeat for 15 rounds perhaps lengthening the count as you feel comfortable.
- Practice before or after your stretches in a comfortable sitting position.
About Phoebe Jones
Phoebe is a yoga teacher currently residing in Sydney NSW. With a background in sport, it was yoga that eventually infused a mind body connection that provided a holistic sense of wellbeing.
Following the long lineages of Hatha and Tantra along with the modern developments in the science of biomechanics in movement, Phoebe has over 4000 hours of teaching with group classes, individual lessons, corporate groups, athletes, dancers, retreats, workshops and much more.
She is incredibly passionate about the intelligence that the body holds and our ability to cultivate our awareness of it.
To find out more about Phoebe Jones or contact her about yoga for runners, visit her website TO YOKE
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