Yoga is a fabulous cross trainer or cool down for runners. The poses and breathing techniques help runners develop better flexibility, balance, and mental focus. Plus it's a great way to relax after a long day of work!
We asked yoga instructor and Fast Break employee Maggi to teach us a few moves that open up and stretch over-used areas of the body for runners. Now grab a mat and start your yoga flow!
Forward Fold (with Variations)
Stretches: hamstrings, glutes, calves, back muscles
Stand with feet hip distance apart. Exhale, hinging from the hips, and bend into a forward fold. If hamstrings are tight, bend your knees and let gravity do the work. Pull your belly in towards your spine, and let your head hang heavy.
For a ragdoll variation, grab opposite elbows and sway side-to-side. To add a shoulder stretch, interlace fingers behind your back, bend your knees and rest your chest on your thighs. Extend your arms away from you. Hang here for 5 to 10 breaths.
Stretches: hip flexors, hips, psoas, quads, hamstrings
From a forward fold, exhale and step your left leg back, lowering your knee to the ground. Keep your left toes tucked under to get more into the left hip flexors. Make sure your right ankle is underneath your right knee. Inhale and lift your torso up, extending your arms. Relax your shoulders, drop your hips, and pull your belly in. Breathe deeply for 5 to 10 breaths.
Low Lunge With Quad Stretch
Stretches: hip flexors, quads, hamstrings
From a low lunge, start with your hands down on both sides of your right foot. Bend your left leg. Keeping your left hand on the ground, reach backwards with your right hand and grab your left foot. If you can’t reach your foot, place a belt or strap around your foot and grab both ends with your right hand. Stay here for 5 to 10 breaths.
Stretches: hip flexors, hips, groins, hamstrings
From a low lunge, release your hands down, bringing your right arm to the inside of your right leg. Move your right foot towards the right edge of your mat. If this feels intense, stay here.
To go deeper into this pose, rotate to the outside edge of your right foot, flexing your foot so that the bottom inside of your foot comes off the mat. Turn your right toes out slightly, and keep your right knee pointing in the same direction as your toes. Stay here, or as you exhale, release down onto your forearms. Breathe deeply for 5 to 10 breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
Stretches: hamstrings, calves, glutes, quads
From a low lunge, tuck your left toes under, lift your left knee up, and step your right leg back as you exhale into downward facing dog. Press the front of the mat away from you, spread your fingers out, and root down into your knuckles. Lift your hips up and back. Keep your arms extended, belly in, and rotate your inner elbows towards the front of the room to allow your shoulder blades to release down your back. Feet are about hip distance apart. If your hamstrings are tight or if your back is rounding, bend your legs as much as you need to and lift your heels off the mat to allow your spine to lengthen. To get deeper into the hamstrings and calves, “walk your dog out” by bending one leg as you straighten the other. Hang out here for 5 to 10 breaths.
Stretches: quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, hips, groins, psoas, piriformis
From downward facing dog, as you exhale, bring your right knee towards your right wrist, and place the outside of your ankle and shin on the mat. Lower your left leg back until the front of your thigh rests on the floor. If there is a lot of space between your hips and the floor, place pillows, blankets, or a block between you and the floor for support. Look back at your left leg and make sure that your knee, ankle, and foot are in line with your left hip. Your weight should be centered and not out to the right side. If your right knee is uncomfortable, flex your right foot and press down into the outside edge of your right foot.
To go deeper into this pose, exhale and release your torso over your right leg. You can always prop yourself up on your forearms or extend your arms in front and rest your forehead on the mat. Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths. To come out of this, inhale and slowly lift your torso. Place your hands on the mat, tuck your left toes under, and lift back into downward facing dog. Walk your dog out.
From down dog, come back into a forward fold, and repeat the entire sequence on the other side ending with pigeon.
Seated Wide-Angle Forward Fold
Stretches: hamstrings, hips, groins, glutes
From a seated position, extend your legs out into a wide angle. Flex your feet and keep your spine extended. If this is already intense, and your back is rounding, place your hands on the mat behind you to help extend your spine, and stay here.
To move further into this pose, exhale as you work your torso forward and towards the ground, stopping when you start to feel a lot of sensation. Try to keep from rounding your spine. Keep your feet flexed, and your knees pointing up towards the ceiling. Stay here for 10 breaths. To come out of this, inhale as you slowly work your torso up. Grab the outsides of your knees with your hands, and use your arms to bring your legs back together. Feel free to shake your legs out.
Reclined Cow Face
Stretches: piriformis, glutes, hips, thighs,
Start with your back on the ground and your legs bent with your feet on the ground. Lift your right leg up and cross your left leg over as if you were sitting in a chair. Lift your left foot up, and grab the outside of your right foot with your left hand and the outside of your left foot with your right hand. If this is hard to do, no worries, just grab your shins or your pants (if you’re wearing any). As you exhale, pull your legs in towards you, keeping your feet flexed. Breathe deeply for 5 to 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Knees To Chest
Stretches: lower back, hip flexors, thighs
With your back on the ground, exhale and squeeze your knees in towards your chest, grabbing below your knees. The insides of your feet will come together, just don’t let them cross. Keep your back and shoulders relaxed on the floor. To go deeper into this pose, work each hand towards opposite elbows, wrapping your forearms across your shins. If your shoulders start to lift off the ground, ease off. Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths.
Boat to Canoe Flow
Works: Core, hip flexors
If you want to add in core work, boat to canoe will get your blood pumping! Start in a seated position with your booty on the ground and your legs bent, heels in towards you. Extend your arms in front of you, shift your weight back, exhale and lift your legs. Keep your legs bent, in a chair like position. Lift your chest and engage your core. Don’t let your spine round.
If you feel good here, straighten your legs out. It's ok if your legs start to shake violently. Hello hip flexors! From boat, inhale as you lower your lower back to the ground and extend your legs into canoe. Keep your shoulders and legs off of the ground. Exhale and lift back into boat. See if you can flow in and out of this 5 times. When done, release your body all the way onto the ground.
Savasana - Final Resting Pose
Benefits: total body bliss
This is the best pose EVER! Make sure to do this at the end of your yoga flow, even if it’s for a couple of minutes. You’ll be totally relaxed and happy you did it.
Release the whole backside of your body onto the ground. Let your feet flop out to the side, and let your arms rest by your side with your palms facing up. Close your eyes, and relax all of the muscles in your body, letting go of any tension. Let your eyes drift to the back of your head. Allow your jaw to soften. Let your tongue fall from the roof of your mouth. Try to be still, and allow yourself to relax. You deserve it!