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I started yoga at a time when I wanted something to complement my running routine. This month we are focusing on yoga postures for runners. We'll get into the legs as well as the core and the arms. Full body for the fun of it!
Starting in standing forward bend, take your feet hip-width distance. Wrap your peace fingers around your big toes. Inhaling to a half-lift, bringing the chest slightly forward. Exhale into a fold, using your arm strength to take your elbows wide and then in toward your shins. Allow your head to drop in to its weight, relax your neck, melt the chest in toward your thighs, and draw the belly in. Hang here for several breaths, opening the hamstrings, down to the calves, and achilles. Slowly release the bind, rising up to stand. Take this nice and slow. Sweep the arms up over head, as you allow your head and your vision to come back to a neutral point. Sometimes I like to give a good shake of the legs and arms to release.
Make your way into downward-facing dog. From here, step your left foot forward into a low-lunge, drop your right knee, and keep the back toes tucked. Take some time to rock the hips side to side with palms down on each side of your front foot. Your left hip draws back as your right hip crease drops forward and low opening the groin. Reach the arms up over your head on a breath in and exhale the palms to meet at the base of your head. From here, take your elbows forward, lifting the sides of your waist to stretch up lengthening the front and back-body. Slowly begin to look up and take a slight curl from your heart space, with your shoulders back, opening from the thoracic spine. Stay here for 4-5 breaths and then plant the hands stepping back to downward dog. Switch to the next side with your right foot forward into the low lunge.
Let's stretch out the quads with a twist. From low lunge, beginning with the right foot forward, left knee dropped. Slowly twist to the right reaching the right hand behind you as you bend your left knee, bringing your back foot in toward your cheeks. It you have a strap, make a loop and hook it around the outside of your left foot, otherwise reach back with your right palm to grab the left foot or ankle. Use your arm strength to slowly bring the left foot in toward the cheek. Involve your right groin and inner thigh by slowly opening your knee out to the right, balancing on the outer edge of your right foot. As you begin to work the back quad with slow kicks into your right palm, take your left hand or forearm to the earth to open the chest, drop your head back, and take 8-10 breaths here. Make your way back up and out of the pose into pressing the palms to the ground into downward dog and switch sides.
Come into a wide straddle fold, feet planted, with your fingertips to the earth. Slowly bend the right knee, balancing on the big and little toe mound keeping your heel high. As you lower, walk your palms to the right side, plant your right palm down and use your arm to press into the inner right knee, and reach the left palm high up toward the sky. The left leg is straight, extended, with your left heel down. Flex your left foot, keeping the entire leg active. Stay here for a few breaths strengthening the quad, opening the inner thighs and groin, as you gently twist the heart open. Transition to the second side by walking your palms into a straddle fold and over to the left.
From a plank position, connect your ankles and spin the heels down to the right, stacking the legs, making your way into side plank. Focus on the press of your right palm down as it pushes the earth away. Lift your hips high and keep your belly in. Slowly lift the left leg and take your left arm up over your head reaching your palm forward to stretch the left side body. Take 5-8 breaths here. Lower the left limbs back to the earth into plank and transition to the second side. While this isn't traditionally a runner's stretch, I like to incorporate some core work, side body stretching, arm strengthening and to power up the legs to wake up the entire body before lacing up the shoes to hit the streets.
These few stretches and strengtheners are great before and after a run. Ready, set, run!