As a yoga teacher, runners often come to the studio seeking relief from sore feet, bad knees, tight hamstrings and painful hips. Over the years, I have watched runners with joint pain, back problems, and muscle pulls, come to class and increase range of motion, agility, flexibility, lung capacity, endurance, and strength.
Yoga has the ability to help all of us get better—better in terms of healing and rehabilitation, better in terms of strength and flexibility, better in terms of the elimination of pain, better in terms of balance, endurance and breath control. For runners, yoga does all of this while reducing stress and aiding in injury prevention.
If you would like to integrate yoga into your running routine, begin with these four yoga poses for runners.
Happy Baby Pose
Happy Baby Pose gently opens the hip joints, stretches the inner groins and the back spine, calms the brain, and helps relieve stress.
Lie on your back, bend your knees toward your chest and take hold of the outsides of your feet with your hands. As you release inside your hip sockets, feel your lower back spreading onto the ground.
Keep your feet over your knees. Keep them awake and alive. Keep your chest broad; your neck and throat relaxed. Stay for 30 seconds breathing evenly.
Modification: If you cannot reach your feet without distorting your spine, use a strap across the bottoms of your feet. Doing so will allow you to pay more attention to the opening of your hip sockets and breathe more easily.
Reclined Leg Stretch
Reclined Leg Stretch provides a safe stretch for tight hamstrings, brings more freedom to the back, pelvis, and hips. It can help relieve discomfort from plantar fasciitis.
Lie on your back with your legs together. Extend both legs strongly through your heels.
Keep your left leg tunneling into the ground as you bend your right knee and draw it into your chest. Place a strap around the arch of the right foot and hold the strap loosely in both hands.