A yoga sequence for all the runners out there.
The other day, FP Julie emailed me and mentioned how great it would be if there were a yoga sequence for runners. Ugh, don’t I know it, I thought to myself as I read her words. We are both avid runners and both suffer from tight hips and tired muscles. Wait a second, I pondered, let’s make it happen. I reached out to LA-based yoga teacher Ryann Hanes and asked her to put together a sequence for all us tired runners in need of a good stretch.
“In life, the goal is to keep balanced,” said Ryann. “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 address your hips and hamstrings. Here are four postures to add to your running ritual and next week we will add four more.
Downdog – Downward Facing Dog is a multi-faceted posture that works nearly every muscle in your body if activated correctly. This posture also stretches the backside of the body- from achilles tendon to neck.
Exhale, tuck your toes and send your hips straight up to the sky by straightening both your legs and your arms. Work your heels toward your mat (they may not touch but keep that downward motion).
Bring your feet to hips width distance apart.
Palms are shoulders width distance apart with spread fingers. (Note: Press evenly throughout the entire surface of your hand and especially work to seal your pointer finger and thumb down to your mat. This may be challenging at first but will become more accessible over time!)
Allow your gaze to come in-between your feet behind you so that your ears are in-between your biceps.
Engage your core by pulling belly button inwards while simultaneously knitting ribs towards each other.
Soften your eyebrows and jaw. Take 8-10 breaths in this posture.
To activate more deeply: Lift your kneecaps to activate your thigh muscles (quadriceps).
(Note: You might feel this desire to really arch your low back in this posture and as you do this, you will notice that your core disengages. I would rather see you engage your core and draw your tailbone long rather than upwards.)
½ Splits – This posture stretches the hips, hamstrings, calves and low back. It’s a great posture to wake up the backside of the body which is often taxed when running.
From Downward Facing Dog:
Take a full breath in, with your exhale, step right foot up to the top of your mat and plant your foot in-between your hands to find a low lunge position.
Lower your back knee down to the mat. Plant your hands on either side of your front foot.
On your exhale, begin to shift your hips toward the back wall as you work your front leg toward a straight position. Note: the front leg does not need or have to be straight to benefit from this stretch as long as the back of the leg is being awakened.
Flex your toes and draw your forehead and ribs towards your thigh and shin.
To activate more deeply: Extend your back leg long behind you. Take 5 breaths in this posture.
TRANSITION: Inhale, walk your hands forward coming back to a Low Lunge Position. Step back to Downward Facing Dog and repeat with your left foot forward.
Low Lunge Psoas Stretch – Ah, the Psoas, that funny little muscle that runs alongside your lumbar region and connects to your hips. Every time you lift your knee, the psoas contracts. Tight psoas can lead to low back pain, hip pain and knee pain and generally tight hips. The Psoas is a deep hip flexor that reaches from your thigh bone to your lower back. This often becomes tight after running, extended periods of sitting or from the lack of stretching. This postures helps to release the stagnation around the psoas and helps to lengthen the muscle. Running causes this muscle to contract – with lots of contraction and no stretching, this rope-like muscle can become shorter. This can cause an imbalance in your hips and pain in your low back. Lengthening the Psoas is a must for runners! Try this posture before and after your run to help keep your psoas happy.
From Downward Facing Dog:
Take a full breath in. With your exhale, step your left foot up to the top of your mat and plant your foot in-between your hands.
Lower your back knee down to the mat. Bring your hands onto your front thigh.
Engage your right glute, while pressing your right hip forward towards the front of the room.
Shift forward slightly to feel the full stretch in the front of the right thigh and hip. Keep your core engaged. Take 3-5 breaths in this posture.
TRANSITION: Plant both hands and press back to Downward Facing Dog and repeat with your right foot forward.
Reclined Figure 4 – This posture increases hip mobility and flexibility. This posture externally rotates the hips. It increases blood flow to the pelvis and helps to release the low back and muscles in and around the hips.
From lying on your back with bent knees:
Take a full breath in. With your exhale, place your right ankle on top of your left thigh just below your knee.
Keep your head and upper body resting on the mat. Flex both feet.
Reach your arms around your left thigh and draw your thigh towards your chest, keeping your feet flexed.
Use your right elbow to apply pressure to open up the right (tucked) thigh. Take 5 breaths in this posture and then repeat on opposite side.
Transition: Release both feet, hug your knees into your chest and rock up to a seated position.
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