For runners, yoga can be used as a cross-training activity to build strength and improve flexibility and balance.
That’s why Erin Hirbour, yoga practitioner and wellness blogger at ErinHirbourYoga.com, teaches a special Yoga for Runners class in Boston.
Hirbour chooses poses that strengthen the feet, build power and speed, and “create a strong foundation for the rest of our body to build upon.”
But, just like running, yoga is a mental training activity, as well, explains Cynthia Akey, owner of Cynergy Wellness and yoga instructor in Sacramento, Calif.
“We learn to center and focus on the moment, become one with the experience, noticing what arises,” she says. “With regular practice, we begin to eliminate obstacles, connect to ourselves, and live more fully.”
Here are 10 poses to try.
Tadasana - Mountain Pose2 of 12
1. Lift toes to feel arches rise.
2. Gently place toes back down, keeping arches lifted.
3. Keep equal weight on your heel, big toe pad and small toe pad.
4. Lift chest, expand space in your lungs, feel the pace of your breath.
5. Keep your core engaged to lengthen your lower back.
6. Soften your knees.
Half Sun Salutation3 of 12
1. Inhale. Reach both arms overhead to stretch the front and back.
2. Exhale. While lengthening your spine and extending arms out to sides, hinge at the hips to fold forward reaching toward toes.
3. Inhale. Lift and lengthen the back to half-table by squeezing shoulder blades together, elongating the spine, and resting fingertips on shins.
4. Exhale. Release and fold forward again. To return to standing, firm your abs and press into soles of your feet.
5. Inhale: Sweep the arms out to the side and up overhead as you stand. Repeat 3-5 times.
Anjaneyasana - Low Lunge Pose4 of 12
1. Press into the mat with your front foot, lifting your hips and engaging your core.
2. Be mindful of your lower back, lift from the heart.
3. Press your back shin into the floor.
4. Place a blanket under your back knee.
5. Front knee stays in line with the ankle.
Crescent Pose5 of 12
1. Step backwards into a lunge with the right leg.
2. Find your balance on the ball of that foot keeping the heel raised.
3. Bend into the left leg, stacking the knee over the ankle.
4. Inhale. Sweep the arms up overhead while firming the abs and engaging the right glute. Feel a stretch in the right thigh, hip flexors, and the sole of the foot. Look up for a balance challenge.
5. Hold the pose for a few deep breaths then lower the arms and step the feet together.
6. Repeat on the other side.
Supta Padangusthasana - Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose6 of 12
1. Lengthen one leg along the floor, rotate your thigh to point toes to the ceiling.
2. Keep bottom leg actived about 20%, keeping contact with the floor.
3. Place the strap above your arch on the pads underneath your toes.
4. Send your heel towards the sky, toes towards your body.
5. Keep shoulders and neck relaxed on the floor.
Utkata Konasana - Goddess Pose7 of 12
1. Bring your heels towards each other.
2. Press into your big toes.
3. Lift your heart from your core.
4. Knees over ankles.
5. Broaden the collar bones.
Dancer8 of 12
1. From standing, bend your right knee and externally rotate your right arm to grab the top of your right foot.
2. Without flaring the leg out the side, firm your abs, lengthen the spine, lift the sternum and start to bend backwards.
3. Raise your opposite arm. Firm into the standing left leg and hinge at the hip. Keep pressing the right hand into the right foot and the foot into the hand. Remain for a few releasing breaths. Release and repeat on the other side.
Uttanasana Standing – forward fold, variation9 of 12
1. Cross your right ankle over your left.
2. Softly bend your right ankle.
3. Bend from your hip, lift your inner core muscle up.
4. Press big toe mounds into the floor to lift pelvis.
5. Place hands on blocks or on the floor.
Pyramid with calf stretch10 of 12
1. Step the right foot back to a short stance with both feet parallel to each other. Bring hands to hips. Firm the abs, lengthen the spine, and hinge forward only 90 degrees.
2. Engage the left quad to stretch the left hamstring. Keep lengthening through the tailbone to release the low back.
3. To stretch the calf, bend the right knee.
4. Hinge at the hips as though sitting back and drop chin to chest for a deeper stretch along the back body.
5. Release and repeat on other side.
Pigeon11 of 12
1. From hands and knees, bring your right ankle toward your left wrist. It's ok if it doesn't get there (yet).
2. Lengthen the left leg behind you so the hip, knee, and top of the foot are comfortably resting on the floor.
3. Inhale to lengthen the spine before lowering the upper body to the ground. Try to keep the hips square and level, propping with a blanket or block as necessary.
4. Rest your head on a block, stacked fists, or the floor.
5. Press yourself back up to hands and knees and repeat on the other side.