Running is a good exercise and you should start running. This is a common advice you might often get from your friends and well-wishers. But, regular running is not everyone’s cup of tea. Runners felt sore and tight despite stretching and pre-running workout. I also started running after a long time, but after few days of running, I faced muscle and knee pain. From my running experience and thorough research, I found out some good Yoga practices which help to stretch out and loosen up after runs, keeping my muscles and joints healthy and preventing tightness or injuries.
Apart from yoga, breathing also plays an important role while you run. So, with your yoga practice include breathing practice (pranayama) which can help you in steady breathing and calm during the intense part of the run. You just need a yoga mat and pair of comfortable clothes to practice yoga and pranayama.
But, before we move to practice yoga please keep some important points in your mind.
- The below yoga poses are not suitable for pregnant women.
- Each pose should be done in a slow and steady manner. Never force your body.
- Before practising any yoga postures consult with your doctor if you have recent medical conditions.
- Warm-up your body before practising this pose for easier muscle stretch.
Let’s start practising the top 11 yoga postures for keeping yourself healthy and fit for running.
- Downward Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
The most common issues for runners are shin splits, knee and foot problems and this pose helps to overcome that by stretching your hamstrings, chest, and lengthening the spine. It also gives relaxation to your foot and provides blood flow to the head.
- Sit on your heels, stretch your arms forward on the mat and lower your head.
- Pushing your hands and strengthening your legs, slowly raise your hips.
- Press firmly through your palms and rotate the inner elbows towards each other.
- It will look like an inverted V-shape.
- Upward facing dog Pose (Urdha Mukha Svanasana)
This pose increases flexibility, elongates the cervical spine and strengthens the core, hamstrings and lower back which is always important for a runner.
- Lie on your stomach with your feet together and toes flat. Place your hands downwards below your shoulders on the mat, while inhaling, lift your waist and raise your head.
- Pull your torso back with the support of your hands. By putting equal pressure on both palms, keep your elbows straight.
- Move your head back and ensure that your shoulders are away from your ears. Exhale while coming back to the ground. Relax and then repeat the procedure 3-4 times.
- The main difference between cobra pose and this asana is that the thighs are lifted off from your mat. This is one of best series to tone up your arms and you can repeat it for 5-7 times.
- Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
It promotes deep breathing, stretches legs and muscles around the knee. Stimulates function of abdominal organs.
- Start Standing with your feet wide (one leg) apart.
- Open and stretch your arms to the sides at shoulder height.
- Move your right foot out 90 degrees and your left toes in about 45 degrees.
- Keep your feet pressed against the ground and inhale. While exhaling, bend your right arm and make it touch the ground while your left arm goes up.
- Keep your waist straight and your body is bent sideways. Take deep breaths.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Standing Forward Fold with Clasped Hands
It relieves stress on the shoulder, back and neck muscles. It improves blood circulation and metabolism. It stretches the muscles of the back and the spine.
- From a standing position, fold your body over at the crease of the hip with the spine long.
- Relax neck and keep your crown of the head towards the mat. The feet are rooted into the mat.
- The toes are actively lifted. The spine is straight. The ribcage is lifted. The chest and the thighs are connected.
- The sacrum lifts up toward the sky in dog tilt. The fingers are interlaced behind the body and the palms are together.
- The arms and elbows are straight. The shoulder blades rotate towards each other as the hands move forward (away from the lower back).
- The gaze is down and inward.
- Warrior III Pose (Virabhadrasana III)
This pose is an active pose that strengthens the ankles and legs, tones the muscles of the abdomen, and offers a stretch through the chest, shoulders, and hamstrings. This pose also helps to improve balance and coordination.
- From Mountain pose, step the right foot a foot length forward and shift all of your weight onto this leg.
- While Inhaling raise the arms over your head and interlace the fingers, pointing the index finger up.
- As you exhale, lift the left leg up and out, hinging at the hips to lower the arms and torso down towards the floor.
- Look down at the floor and stare at a point for maintaining balance. Reach out through the left toes and the crown and fingers making one straight line.
- Breathe and hold for few breaths.
- Come back to the mountain pose, relax and repeat on the other side.
- Butterfly Pose (Badhakonasana)
This pose reduces fat on your inner thighs and strengthens your spine, muscles of the groin, knees and lower back.
- Sit on your yoga mat with your legs stretched out in front of you.
- Keep your spine erect and bend your legs at the knees, such that the soles of your feet are facing each other.
- Now with your hands pull your legs in so that your heels touch each other and they are as close to your pelvis as possible.
- While holding your legs at the ankles, move your thighs up and down, just like the wings of a butterfly. Do this as many times as you can.
- Sitting half spinal Twist (Ardhamatsyendrasana)
This pose stretches shoulders, hips, and back. It also helps to calm the nervous system and tones abdomen.
- Sit up with the legs stretched out, keeping the feet together and the spine erect.
- Bend the left leg and place the heel of the left foot beside the right hip.
- Take the right leg over the left knee and place the left hand on the right knee. Keep the right hand behind you.
- Twist your waist, shoulders, and neck towards right look over the right shoulder.
- While keeping your spine straight, continue long breath in and out.
- While exhaling, release the right hand first, then release the chest and waist. Release your neck and sit relaxed. Repeat on the other side.
- Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This pose stretches the back of the legs, calms the mind and nervous system and provides better relaxation. It also regulated blood flow and improves digestion.
- Lie down flat on your back in supine position.
- Position your buttocks closer to the wall as much as possible and then Inhale slowly and deeply.
- Rest both your legs on the wall while keeping them straight.
- Tilt your toes towards your body until you feel the pressure on your hamstrings.
- Stretch both your hands on either side of your body.
- Hold the position with regular breathing for at least 2-3 minutes.
- Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This pose relaxes the mind, body, and spirit while decreases muscle tension gives relief from anxiety and increases overall energy.
- Lie down flat on your back in supine position with your legs and arms extended.
- Bend your knees and bring your heels towards your pelvis area. Press the soles of your feet together and let your knees drop open to both sides.
- Keep your arms open on both sides with palms up.
- Lengthen your spine along the floor and maintain the natural curve of the lower back.
- Relax your buttocks and lengthen your tailbone toward your heels.
- Close your eyes and turn your awareness completely inward.
- Hold this position as long as you feel comfortable. Don’t force your body unnecessarily.
- Childs Pose (Balasana)
This posture is helpful to rest and relax the muscles of your body. It restores vitality physically, mentally and emotionally by reducing stress and anxiety.
- Practice this pose with closed eyes, listening to the sound of your breath.
- Sit in Vajrasana pose (bend your knees and sit on your heels). Keep your hips on your heels. Lower your head on the mat and stretch your hands forward.
- Press your thighs against your chest and breathe lightly. Touch your head to the ground.
Yoga and breathing practice is just a perfect compliment for running. The benefits include greater flexibility, improved fitness, mental focus and a medicine to cure aches and pains.
Enjoy your running and if you feel this article is for you then share your experience with us by commenting below.