Yoga for Beginner Runners - 8 Poses to Get You Started
Yoga and running have always been intertwined. Last year I started a running routine that had me doing a run-walk, then each day less and less walking and more running until I was able to run 30 minutes. Of course, you get a few off days in between to rest. I then proceeded to do a slightly harder pace. My pace is way too embarrassing to tell you about (grunt) and now this season I am starting over. There are many beginning-running programs out there and many that seem reasonable in approach. I feel however that Yoga is an absolute must when it comes to running. Running can put a lot of stress on our bodies and can tighten our muscles, limit flexibility, and cause muscle soreness. Running can exacerbate existing muscular imbalances and weaknesses, which can put you at a higher risk of running-related injuries. So beginner runners are especially prone.
The benefits of the ancient practices of Yoga are amazing on a runner's body. A good yoga routine that includes breath work will improve flexibility, range of motion, mental clarity/focus and muscular strength. The resulting stress reduction will help overall performance and prevent injury. On the flip side, Yoga is also the quintessential recovery practice for runners - delivering a runner from muscle tension and restoring range of motion to areas that get "tight" while running. If you have already started running and want to add Yoga in now, just remember that Yoga postures can feel uncomfortable to very tight muscles so keep in mind not to push past your range or to the point of any pain. Start exactly where you are in both running and Yoga. As you continue your routine the postures will get easier, maybe even become second nature, and you will be more flexible noticing positive changes while running and on the mat, and off the mat as well.
Here are 8 of the best Yoga Postures for Beginner Runners:
1. Downward Facing Dog
Stretches hamstrings and calves - shoulders and arms are strengthened
2. Supta Padangusthasana 3 Part Routine
This is a Supta Padangusthasana routine. Practice each of these for each leg. Use a strap in all three poses to get a deeper stretch and to help keep your body in the correct position. This is the classic stretch for runners as it gets right into the hamstrings and calves. Bringing a yoga approach can improve this stretch by introducing important alignment points and bringing attention to body mechanics to reduce the chances of overdoing it.
3. Seated Forward Bend
Relieve stress, stretches the spine, shoulders, hamstrings
4. Cobblers Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This yoga pose works wonders on our leg muscles. It creates a strong base for the spine, with pressure at the hips, the entire spine stretches making it strong and flexible.
5. Reclined Pigeon Pose
Stretches hips, strengthens thighs and gives flexibility to the lower back.
6. Warrior I
Warrior I is excellent for strengthening the legs and upper arms. Helps to improve balance and core strength, stretches the muscles around the hips. You may feel a good stretch of both the front and rear thigh (both quadriceps and hamstrings).
7. Warrior II
Strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles. Stretches the groins, chest and lungs, shoulders. Increases stamina. Relieves backaches.
8. Legs Up a Wall
Restores tired feet or legs. Stretches the back of the neck, front torso, and back of the legs. Relieves mild backache.
While practicing Yoga think about adding a few minutes of Pranayama (yogic breathing techniques). Runners must get into routine breathing patterns...and what better way to do that than incorporating specific mindful breath work? Many athletes and Yogis alike talk about waking up in the morning and being mindful of and controlling the breath. It is the ultimate eye opener (better than coffee) without the jitters and lessens anxiety all while pumping your energy for a day of performance. Breath work has its own myriad of benefits that are extensive - but ultimately for runners and especially those beginning it can be a game changer. Art of Living has an excellent page on Pranayama see the link below:
As your Yoga and running routine gets better, longer, and stronger Ashtanga and Power Yoga may be the way to move forward. Ashtanga is faster paced and excellent for core muscles - the core being key for runners moving forward.
So, engage! move into the running season with Yoga and Breath Work in your runners toolbox.Happy Yoga
Sat Nam ਸਤਿ ਨਾਮੁ
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