While running is a great form of cardio and can help to strengthen your leg muscles and core, and can be a great form of moving meditation, running can also leave you prone to tight hips, hamstrings, and quads. Yoga before or after running is an excellent complement to running, as a regular practice can help to open up these tight areas, boost your balance, improve flexibility (which reduces injury) and help to strengthen your core and glutes, making you a stronger runner. No matter where you’re at in your running journey, these yoga poses for runners are great to add to your practice.
1. BUTTERFLY (BADDHA KONASANA)
An awesome seated pose, butterfly pose is a great way to open up your hips after a run. Because it’s a seated pose, it provides restorative benefits, and can also help to stretch your psoas, inner thighs, and lower back, all of which can become tight after running.
See picture above for butterfly pose. Begin seated on the floor, with legs outstretched in front of you. Bring the soles of your feet together, letting your knees fall open like a butterfly, keeping the bottom edge of your feet pressed into the mat. Allow your feet to peel apart like a book to stretch your feet and ankles, slowly let your knees fall to the floor, but not forcing them. If this stretch is too intense, you can sit up on a block, blanket or bolster to more gently open the hips, ensuring that you’re still keeping your back straight.
2. HALF-PIGEON (EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA)
Half-pigeon is another wonderful hip opener. While the front leg may seem as though it is the one getting an awesome external rotation, the back leg is also working to stretch the psoas and hip flexor.
To bring your body into the pose, sit down on your mat and lengthen your left leg long behind you. Pull your right shin so it’s parallel to the front of the mat, flexing your right foot to protect your knee. Work on keeping your hips square as you relax them. You can use your hands to support you in this upright posture, or to take it further, lower down onto your forearms for a deeper stretch. You may need to use a block under your back leg to help support your body. After 30 to 60 seconds (or longer!), switch your legs.
3. HAPPY BABY (ANANDA BALASANA)
Happy baby is a reclined yoga pose that helps to open the hips and release the lower back, glutes, and groin, which can become tight as they’re used to stabilize your body during running.
Begin laying on your back on the mat, bending your knees into your belly. Use your hands to grip the outer blades of your feet, drawing your knees into your armpits, and keeping your feet flexed. Hold your body here, relaxing into the stretch, and continuing to pull your knees into your armpits, resisting with your legs. You can even rock gently back and forth here, massaging your lower back. If necessary, use a strap rather than holding onto your feet to make this pose accessible.
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