I love to run but let’s be serious, running can take a toll on your body.   Whether you are a beginner or a veteran runner, recovery is absolutely necessary in order to improve your running performance.   There are days that my legs are just dead tired and they feel like cement.  Especially when I am training for a half marathon; which I try to do a few times a year.   I have found that cross training is key in my training for a race.   So on the days I don’t run I will walk our rescued pitbull, Chance for a few miles or some days I will roll out my yoga mat and stretch.

I fell in love with HOT yoga about 6 years ago.  Yes, you heard me correctly, HOT YOGA!  I know I live in Arizona where it is 112 degrees today and I like to go to a HOT yoga classes.   Crazy!  I have found the benefits from yoga actually boost my running performance and help me achieve that awesome stretch that no other stretches can do.  Now, I will admit I don’t always have time to go to an actual yoga class but I can still get the benefits from yoga at home.

Here are the 5 best yoga poses I have found to help with my running performance.  Time to dust off that yoga mat, kick off your shoes and socks and get ready to feel amazing!  I do all 5 yoga poses after each run.

Explanation of poses by http://www.abc-of-yoga.com

Child’s Pose: 

Child Pose

Child Pose

Child Pose stretches the hips, thighs and ankles gently. It also helps relieve stress and fatigue, and calms the brain. However, you need to observe caution in practicing the Child Pose when you are suffering from a knee injury as it may worsen your ailment when not done properly.

How to do a child’s pose: Kneel and sit on your feet with your heels pointing outward. Your knees should be separated, about the width of your hips.  Place your forehead on the floor, then swing your arms forward.   Rest your forehead on the floor, then bring your arms around and to your sides, palms facing upward.   I prefer to keep my arms forward but it’s whatever is comfortable for you.

Crescent Lunge Pose:

Crescent Lunge Pose

Crescent Lunge Pose

The Crescent Lunge Pose strengthens your legs, back, shoulders, and arms, building stamina. It opens your hips and chest, and improves balance.   Also called High Lunge Pose. This pose stretches hip flexors and strengthens legs and arms.

How to do crescent lunge pose:  Start in Downward-Facing Dog.   Exhale and step your right foot forward between your hands, aligning your knee over the heel. Keep your left leg strong and firm.  Inhale and raise your torso to upright. At the same time, sweep your arms wide to the sides and raise them overhead, palms facing.   Be careful not to overarch the lower back. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor and reach back through your left heel. This will bring the shoulder blades deeper into the back and help support your chest. Look up toward your thumbs.  Be sure not to press the front ribs forward. Draw them down and into the torso. Lift the arms from the lower back ribs, reaching through your little fingers. Hold for 30 seconds to a minute.   Then exhale, release the torso to the right thigh, sweep your hands back onto the floor, and, with another exhale, step your right foot back and return to Down Dog. Hold for a few breaths and repeat with the left foot forward for the same length of time.

Downward Facing Dog: Photo not me.  I have a injury with my ankle that is bothersome in downward dog.

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog

In the Downward Facing Dog Pose, you build up strength in the upper arms and you give space and opening in the back, neck, chest, hips and shoulders. If you let your ankles sink nicely to the floor in this Asana, you stretch the calves at the same time. In Yoga, this pose is often used as an exercise in between other exercises, but it is in fact an exercise in itself.

How to do the downward dog pose: Come onto the floor on your hands and knees. Stretch the elbows and relax the upper back between the shoulder blades, which gives you the feeling that the arms fall into the shoulder blades.  Exhale and lift your knees and draw your back backwards from the pelvis, so that your arms and back form one line.  Stretch your legs in such a way that you get the feeling that someone behind you is pulling your legs and hips backwards from the top of your upper legs. Let your head hang down in a relaxed sort of way.  When you have placed your back and your legs correctly, stretch out your arms. This results in a stretching from two sides of the back: a stretching from the pelvis and a stretching from the arms. When the back and the chest are placed correctly, you will notice that you can quietly breathe in and out through the belly. You should not let your chest hang downwards or make your back extremely sunken. In this Asana, the back should be lengthened along its entire length. Take your time to work out the stretching further and further.

Chair Pose:

Chair Pose

Chair Pose

A strong, straight lower back is the foundation of every correct position and is consequently important in any Yoga pose. In this exercise, you strengthen the lower back and the legs and by doing so, you create more space in the chest and belly.

How to do the Chair Pose I: Start with the Mountain Pose (Tadasana).   Inhale and stretch your arms, lengthen the spine, and be careful not to press the lower ribs to the front.    Exhale and bend your knees and move your upper body forward at 45 degrees.
See to it that your lower back is straight. You can do this by letting your hand feel whether there is a “groove” in the middle of the lower back. If this is not the case, then stand up straight again, bend your body forward, and feel if the “groove” is there. Let the weight of the upper body sink into the pelvis, relax the calve muscles so that the weight of the body can be most efficiently directed into the ground.
The chest bone is moved slightly towards the belly. The breathing is relaxed and goes through the belly or towards the chest bone. Build up the exercise quietly and remain focused on a correct position of the back, chest, and pelvis.

Pigeon:  

Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose

Everyone can benefit from the hip opener known as pigeon pose.   Stress and tension can build up in the hips and create tightness. Practicing pigeon can make for supple, more flexible hips. Sometimes this pose will take your breath away with its depth, but stick with it and you’ll notice the immediate improvement.

How to do the pigeon pose:   From downward facing dog, step both feet together and bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer right leg is resting on the mat.   If your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. If it begins open up toward the ceiling, draw your right foot back in toward your body.  Stay here with your hands resting on your right leg or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee.   Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least five breaths.  Then place your hands on the mat in front of you, tuck your left toes and step your right foot back. Take a vinyasa, then step your left foot forward and repeat Pigeon on the left side.

Do you have a favorite yoga pose?  How often do you do yoga?  Do you do yoga at home or in a class?  Let us know 🙂

Namaste

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