- Parsvottanasana: Intense side stretch pose
This pose is an all over good pose for stretching the hamstrings, ankles, hips, spine and even wrists. Practicing this pose will reduce the risk of injury while running and it will also improve overall stamina.
- Start in a standing position with your hands on your hips and step one foot forward about 3 feet. Be sure the hips are squared forward and remain that way during the pose.
- Take a deep breath in and as you exhale begin to fold forward over your front leg while placing your hands on the ground. If you cannot reach the ground, it’s best to use yoga blocks under your hands, but you could even use a few books.
- Try not to round your back but instead lift through the heart and sternum bringing your lowest ribs firmly onto the upper thigh. If needed bend the front knee slightly.
- Remain there taking deep breaths through the nose with the inhale and exhale the same length and same intensity. Take at least 10-15 breaths on each side.
- *Remember this is a dynamic pose so you should be contracting the legs, pelvic floor, and belly.
- *repeat on the other side.
- Utthita Hasta Padangusthasana: Hand to big toe pose
This pose is one of my favorites for all athletes but a must for runners. Try not to be discouraged by its difficulty and enjoy learning about your body and how you may improve strength, balance, coordination and endurance.
- Stand up tall with both feet together, place your left hand on your left hip while extending your right arm out in front of you, slowly lift your right leg up with control to the height of your hand grabbing your big toe with your first two fingers. The leg and arm should both be straight or close to it. If you are unable to reach, try bending your knee minimally or using a yoga strap around your foot.
- Continue to stand tall while holding the big toe or strap, breathe deeply as described previously. It’s important the hips remain level, and you resist the urge to lift the right hip up. Try to strengthen the standing leg and reach across the chest and collarbone.
- With an exhalation open your right leg to the right and turn your chin to the left. This is where the balance will become even more challenging. Pay attention again, to keeping the right hip in alignment and not tilting it up toward the ceiling. Stay for five breaths.
- On an inhalation return the right leg and the eye gaze back to center. Take one breath and on the exhalation slowly and with control release the leg down.
- *Repeat on the left.
- Supta Virasana: reclining hero pose
Finally, a pose that will target those tight hips flexors, quads, and front body. While this pose is passive, it’s beneficial in many ways. By opening up the ankles, hips, and chest, you will be able to breath more deeply while providing relaxation from a busy life. This pose may also show you how tight you are.
- Kneel on a yoga mat or carpet and spread the shins and feet apart while keeping the knees close start to sit back between your heels. If that’s not possible place, a blanket, small pillow or yoga block between your feet to sit on. Refrain from sitting on top of your heels.
- If that feels like enough of a stretch just remain there. If you can continue comfortably than start to lean back and place your hands on the floor behind you, you can continue reaching back all the way to the floor if possible. The knees should remain down on the floor, there should be no pain and you should be able to breathe with ease.
- *If you have a bolster or a small stack of blankets (firm ones are better), you can place them under your back to support you. Only go as far as you are comfortable and try to stay 20-30 breaths.
Over time and with persistence these poses will become valuable tools to not only create a more comfortable run but one that can take you to new heights. Repetition and consistency are the keys to unlocking not only the muscles and joints but the hidden power trapped within them.
(This article was written by Dawn Yager for Baleaf Sports)