Yoga, the 6,000-year-old secret to health and vitality is not so secret any more. Among the many people discovering its many virtues; added flexibility, strength, mental focus, calm and relaxation, are runners, cyclists and swimmers who are looking for the perfect cross training complement to their workout program. Whether you do aerobics, run, bike, swim or power lift – the ancient practice of yoga can balance your body and your mind. Runners, and other athletes in particular can benefit from yoga’s balancing benefits.
A sport like running, while beneficial, leaves our bodies tight in many areas – usually the hamstrings, hips, quadriceps and calves. A good yoga practice can balance the body, bringing flexibility to these muscles and ligaments. This will actually make you more efficient in your running program as well as more relaxed. Here are a few great stretches and poses to deal with your post run soreness:
QUAD STRETCH: Lying facedown on the floor – bend one leg and grab onto the ankle gently pulling the leg back and up – try touching your foot to your gluts. Switch sides. This can also be done standing. Be cautious if you have knee problems.
UPSIDE DOWN PIDGEON POSES: Lying face up on the floor, lifting the legs to knee height off the floor, bring the right ankle to the left quadriceps – aiming for a spot on the leg midway between knee and groin. Pull left knee in towards body, push right knee away gently until you feel a deep stretch in the hip and glut are. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
FORWARD FOLD: When at resting heart rate, standing, hinge at the hips folding forward - grab onto elbows, or more intense- grab ankles - with fluid breathing sink a little further on each exhale, letting the crown of the head move towards the floor and relaxing the head and neck as much as possible. Take 10 deep breaths. This poses is not recommended for anyone with a heart condition or if heart rate is higher than resting.
SPINAL TWIST - lying down on back extend limbs away from body. Bring right knee into chest and draw across left side of the body - place left hand on right thigh. allow for low back release. Keep hips square and draw knee towards floor. hold for 5-10 deep breaths. Switch sides.
Abdominal Exercises: All of our movements originate from the mid-section. Making our center strong only enhances our running. Lying on back, feet on floor. Interlace hands behind head and slowly lift on the exhale, release on the inhale and like a wave let the strong centered breath lift you up and down. Keep the abs contracted at all times.