– Why does Yoga compliment running? –
Park Run Yoga is a brilliant compliment to add to your running regime. It helps lengthen tight muscles and strengthen the body. It can also reduce stress and anxiety. Practicing gentle breathwork and meditation can help improve lung capacity. A simple stretching routine before and after running can help improve performance and reduce the chances of injury.
A 15 minute yoga session before and after your park run can really help you improve your performance.
Park Runs are 5km runs around parks scattered across the UK. They are very popular with people all across England. In my local area, there are 3 main parks that host them. They are usually held on Sunday mornings.
Stewart Park, located in Marton hosts a run, as well as Albert Park and Preston Park in Stockton-on-tees.
– Stretches to introduce to your run –
I love practicing Standing Forward Fold. It is A full body stretch, which is wonderful for lengthening and stretching the hamstrings.
This posture is also wonderful for calming the mind. I often find that when the head is below the heart, we feel a sense of calm. If you have low blood pressure, this should not be practiced. If you are injured, you can come into what we call half-standing forward fold. This is where we lengthen the back and come onto our fingertips, so we aren’t folding too deeply.
– Make sure the feet are hip distance apart
– Bend at the hips
– Keep a slight bend in the knees
Downward dog is wonderful for stretching the hamstrings and calves, as well as gently toning the shoulders.
– How do we do Downward Dog? –
We begin in table-top position (on hands and knees). We then check our posture, ensuring our wrists under our shoulders and our knees are under our hips. Spread your fingers and press the index finger, middle finger and thumb into the mat. Have a slight bend in the elbows so that you’re not locking the joints. Draw the navel towards the spine, engaging the abdominal muscles. Tuck your toes, lift your knees off the floor, pushing the pelvis into the air. Broaden the shoulders, then gently try to straighten your legs and make the famous upside down ‘V’ shape with the body. Breathe deeply, elongating the outbreath for approximately 10 breaths. As your body and muscles relax into the posture, try to lower your heels to the floor.
– Walking the dog-
When you are comfortable in the pose, perhaps try lifting and lowering the heels. This is known as walking the dog.
– Low lunge to High Lunge –
High lunge is wonderful for stretching the hip flexors as well as strengthening the hamstrings and quadriceps.
To practice low lunge, simply lower the knee of the back leg.
To practice this, we transition From Downward Dog to a low lunge. We step our right foot forward between our hands. Then we lower the left knee. We keel the right knee in place between the hands and check out alignment. Are the knee and ankle in line? Next, slide the left leg back. This is low lunge. To come into high lunge, simply lift the back knee off the floor.
Balasana – Childs pose is wonderful for releasing tight quadriceps, whilst helping to release the lower back and bring relaxation to the shoulders. Begin on your knees and then hinge back so you are sitting on your ankles, the tops of your feet on the ground.
To practice, start in table top position. Sit on your heels and stretch your arms out infront of you. Your bum should stay on your heels. Rest your head on the floor and stretch out the arms, having a slight bend in the elbows. Let the shoulders be soft and relaxed. If your head doesn’t reach the floor, you can rest them on the hands or use the fists as blocks. This means we can rest our forehead withour putting too much strain on the body and enjoy the posture.
Another wonderful pose to do after is Viparita Karani – Legs up the wall posture. There is a whole article I wrote about it here.
What are your favorite Yoga poses for runners?
I’d love to hear from you!