Yoga for Runners
My Pre-run Yoga Warm up
We are finally approaching the end of summer…. do you have plans or have you started training for your fall marathon or half marathon?
Cross training is very important when training for these grueling runs. Incorporating yoga into your weekly routine will help you decrease injury, give your muscles a nice stretch, strengthen and tone areas that may be underused when you run all the time. Taking time out of your running schedule and stretching after a run can be difficult and often times skipped. Some days, after a long and hot run, I just am happy I made it back home let alone wanting to move my body again.
Stretching and doing yoga provides a nice balance for your body. Not only are you stretching muscles but certain poses like plank pose focuses on strengthening the core, arms and legs or locust pose, strengthens the arms, back, and legs. Below are poses that I do pre and post run.
My pre-run yoga to warm up my body, get my blood circulating:
Comfortable cross-legged easy seat
Come to a comfortable easy seat, cross legged
If you feel like you are leaning back or are unstable, place a block, if you have one, or you can use a pillow, blanket or book underneath you if you do not have one.
Hands rest on thighs, palms up or down (yogis choice)
Sit up tall and close your eyes
Bring the lips together and start to draw breath in your nose counting to 4 and then exhaling through your nose counting to 4. Repeat this at least 5 times…
Table pose with spinal movements- 5 rounds
Shoulders over wrists
Hips over knees
Hands firmly planted into the mat or towel
hammock your belly as you look up
round the back like a C shape, chin to chest
Forward Fold- Hold your forward fold for 5- 7 breathes
Feet hip width distance apart
Bend in the knees so much that the belly rests on the thighs and hamstrings are engaged
arms wrap around opposite elbows
crown of head pointing down to the ground
Keep core engaged
Warrior 1- Hold for 3 to 5 breaths
Back foot angled 45 degree
heels line up with one another or for more stability, separate your feel
Front knee over the shin and ankle, bend in the knee
Hips squaring off the the front of your mat
Long spine with core strong and engaged
Arms reaching towards the sky but the shoulders are drawing down your back
Gaze is forward or towards the sky
Warrior 2- Hold for 3 to 5 breaths
Back foot parallel with the back of the mat
Front foot pointed towards front of the room
Press on the outer pinkie edges of both feet to activate your outer thigh muscles
Front knee is over ankle at a 90 deg, and the thigh is parallel with the ground
Slight tuck of the pelvis underneath the body, activating the core
Long spine from the crown of the head to the tailbone
Shoulders draw down the back
Arms straight out in a T shape, spread fingers wide
Gaze beyond your middle finger
Tree Pose- Hold for 3 to 5 breaths each side
Place weight in the right foot, ground down into all corners of the foot
Thigh of standing leg engaged with the kneecap slightly lifted.
Pop the heel of the left leg off the ground and rotate the knee outward.
Place the foot of the other leg on the ankle, on the calf or on the inner thigh (not on the knee).
Repeat on the left leg
Stand tall and keep the hips even with each other
Bring the palms of your hands together in prayer at your heart….stay there or lift the arms up towards the sky and out to a V shape. If you lifted your arms, draw the shoulders down the back.
Gaze forward or for more of a challenge, look up to the sky or close your eyes.
Wide Legged Forward Fold- Hold for 3 to 5 breaths
Come to the wide side of your mat, leg separated wide, feet are slightly pigeon toed, and press on the outer pinkie edges of your feet
Slight bend in the knees, fold forward, hands can rest on a block, books or maybe reach the ground.
First and second finger grab the big toe of each foot
Use the strength of your grip to pull your core closer to your thighs
Legs remain straight(ish), kneecaps lifted.
Bring your elbows out to the side
Draw shoulder blades down your back and use the strength of your arms to deepen the pose.
Gaze behind you to keep your spine in a neutral position
My Inversion of Choice: Headstand
I like to practice headstand prior to running because I feel like the pose helps my overall mood. You can always practice a headstand, handstand, forearm balance, downward dog or any other inversion that you are most comfortable with. In the pic below is the most stable headstand for my body and does not bother my neck. However, if you have neck issues, I would recommend trying a different inversion where your neck is more supported.
Start in tabletop position. Lower the crown of your head down to the ground.
Slide your hands back, triceps parallel with the sky, elbows over wrists in a 90 deg angle.
Take a pause, see how you feel with a little pressure on the crown of your head.
If you are ready, tuck the toes and start to straighten through the legs. Remember to keep the arms at 90 deg.
Start to walk the legs forward to where the hips feel like the are over the shoulders.
Start by lifting on leg, set the leg down, lift the other, set it down and then rest.
Keep practicing these movements or when you are ready, lift one leg, activate your core and the lift the other. (There are several ways to get into headstand, this is the way I enjoy the most)
Key tips: Keep the spine long and straight, core strong and active, hug the outer thighs together, lifting the kneecaps, squeeze the thighs and ankles together. Legs and toes pointing towards the sky….. just like that, easy peasy right!
Once you have done this really quick warm up of strength and stretching, head on out for that awesome run. Good luck and maybe I’ll see you in the fall at a local race in C-bus!