If you are a runner-regardless if you are a sprinter or a marathoner, did you know that yoga can help improve your performance? It is true! There are certain poses that will actually help to open up tight hips, stretch your legs, and focus on your strengthening your core for greater motor balance and coordination.
Here are 5 great yoga poses for runners:
1. Tree Pose (for strengthening legs and balance)
2. Goddess Pose (for tight hips)
- Stand tall and straight with arms by the side of your body. Bend your right knee and place the right foot high up on your left thigh. The sole of the foot should be placed flat and firmly near the root of the thigh.
- Once you are well balanced, take a deep breath in, gracefully raise your arms over your head from the side, and bring your palms together in ‘Namaste’ mudra (hands-folded position).
- Look straight ahead in front of you, at a distant object. A steady gaze helps maintain a steady balance. Ensure that your spine is straight. Your entire body should be taut, like a stretched elastic band. Keep taking in long deep breaths. With each exhalation, relax the body more and more. Just be with the body and the breath with a gentle smile on your face.
- With slow exhalation, gently bring down your hands from the sides. You may gently release the right leg.
- Stand tall and straight as you did at the beginning of the posture. Repeat this pose with the left leg off the ground on the right thigh.
3. Locust Pose (for core strength)
- From a standing position with the feet 3 feet apart, bend the elbows at shoulder height and turn the palms facing each other. Turn the feet out 45 degrees facing the corners of the room, and as you exhale bend the knees over the toes squatting down.
- Press the hips forward, press the knees back. Drop the shoulders down and back and press the chest toward the front of the room. Keep the arms active, as if they were holding a big ball over your head. Look straight ahead with the chin parallel to the floor.
- Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths.
- To release: inhale and straighten the legs, reaching the fingertips to the ceiling, then exhale the arms to the sides.
4. Warrior 1 Pose (for legs)
- Begin lying on your stomach with your arms at your sides. Rest your forehead on the mat. Extend your legs straight behind you, hip-width apart. Do not roll your heels inward or outward. Instead, press your weight evenly across the tops of both feet.
- Inhale and raise your head to look forward. On your exhale, lift your chest and arms. Keep your arms alongside your body with your palms facing down. Lift your upper spine and reach your arms back toward your feet.
- Use your inner thighs to lift your legs up toward the ceiling. Reach straight back through the balls of your feet. Your weight should rest on your lower ribs, belly, and front pelvis.
- Keep your chest lifted as you widen across your collarbones. Draw your shoulder blades into your back ribs and extend them away from each other.
- Gaze at your cheeks. Keep your breath smooth and even.
- Hold for up to one minute. On an exhalation, slowly release your body to the ground. Place your right ear on the mat and relax your arms at your sides for a few breaths. Repeat the pose for the same amount of time, then rest with your left ear on the mat.
5. Pigeon Pose (for tight hips)
- From High Lunge pose with the right knee bent, engage the legs to ground down through the feet, and inhale the hands up to the bent knee. Use the arms to draw the torso back slightly. Make sure the right knee is directly over the right ankle.
- Bring the hands to the hips and square the hips and the shoulders to the front wall. Relax the shoulders down and draw the shoulderblades towards the spine to open the chest.
- Inhale the arms over the head in a H position with the palms facing each other, or bring the palms together crossing the thumbs, or interlace the fingers together and point the index finger up. Keep the shoulders relaxed and the chest lifted.
- To go deeper, bring the palms together and carefully arch back and look up towards the ceiling.
- Inhale deeply into the belly and chest, exhale press into the feet, fingers and crown, feeling your body expanding out in 5 directions.
- Keep breathing and hold for 3-6 breaths. To release, exhale and lower the hands down to the floor.
- Start on all fours in a squared table pose. Slide the right knee forward toward your right hand. Angle your right knee at two o'clock. Slide your left leg back as far as your hips will allow.
- Keep your hips square to the floor. If your hips are not square, there will be unnecessary force on your back, and you won't be able to open the hips to their fullest.
- If you're not feeling a deep stretch in your right glute, slide the right foot forward--little by little--toward your left hand. With practice, bring your foot parallel with the front edge of your mat
- Your right thigh should have an external rotation, and your left thigh should have a slight internal rotation. This keeps pressure off the knee cap.
- Depending on how you feel, you will be upright on your hands while sinking the hips forward and down. Level two will rest on their forearms, and level three will rest the chest on the floor with the arms fully extended in front of you.
- To get full release in the hips, breathe and release the belly. Stay in this position anywhere from 10 breaths to five minutes.