I recently attended a yoga class with an teacher who, like myself, enjoys pounding the pavement in a series of weekly runs. As a working mother of two, my thought process is pretty much always make every minute that I have to myself count big time. So quite often I push myself to the edge on the trail. My teacher gifted me with a class that included poses to address the temporary damage that running can do to ones body, especially as we age or skimp on stretching here or there. As a marathon runner, she places a tremendous amount of importance on balancing her running practice with her yoga practice as the two really have a symbiotic effect on your body!
Legs Up the Wall or Shoulder Stand- “reverse blood flow” - reduces swelling
Really any inversion is going to capitalize on an increased oxygen intake and facilitate the blood’s return flow to the heart, which is there by relieving your lower limbs and reducing any swelling that may occur as a result of strenuous exercise and time on your feet. You can rest your legs up on the wall as you rest your torso on the floor. Be sure to try and get your sits bones to contact the wall, really feeling a gentle stretch behind your knees. Or you can go into shoulder stand! Be sure to support your lower back and pelvis with your hands and elbows and balance the majority of your weight on your triceps not your neck.
Lizard Pose- opens your hips, engages your core, stretches your hamstrings and quads
I love lizard pose! It is a darn good hip opener without the hem and haul of trying to find the exact angle at which my knees will rest without discomfort. Starting in a low lunge with your left knee forward, place your palms on your mat and your turn left foot out to a 45- degree angle. Then roll your foot onto its outer edge and splay those tootsies! Press gently on your left inner quad with your left arm. Repeat on your right side holding each for five to seven breaths.
Pigeon Pose- hip opener and quad stretch
Start in downward-facing-dog and lift your left leg back and up. Bend at the knee so that you can look under your right armpit and see your foot. Then bring that bent leg to the front of your mat trying to keep your shin parallel to the short end as you extend your right leg straight back. Press your right hip toward the mat. Inhale, then exhale as you walk your palms as far forward as is comfortable. Hold for at least two minutes, longer if time allows. Repeat on the right.
In an ideal world we would all balance our running with at least three hours of yoga a week, but ideals aren’t always realistic. So instead here are three rejuvenating yoga poses that can be practiced immediately after your run in addition to the morning after for added benefits. Taking the time to tend to your body lovingly after pushing yourself really hard may improve your performance, in addition to reducing your risk of injury. It will also cultivate awareness of your limits which are important to acknowledge as we meet our bodies where they are in everything we do.