Here are five yoga postures I consider to be the most potent and advantageous for runners. You can practice them one at a time or create a full sequence flow.
1. A Pose for Body Awareness
Beginner: Child’s Pose: Start in a kneeling position with your weight on your heels. Reach your arms forward as far as possible and lower them to rest on the mat. Hold the pose and take 4-8 breaths.
Intermediate/Advanced: Downward Dog to Plank Flow: Start in child’s pose.
Tuck your toes, spread out your fingers, press your hands into the floor and lift your sit bones upward toward the sky into downward dog pose. Press the ground equally with your hands and feet. Lower down into plank. Hold the downward dog or flow between these two postures 4-8 times.
2. A Pose for Mobility
4 – 8 lunges per side
Beginner: Basic Lunge with Spine Twist: Start in lunge position, place your right foot forward with your right knee directly over your ankle and toes facing forward. Place arms on either side of front foot and come up on your fingertips to elongate your spine. Press your left hand into the ground and externally rotate your ribcage toward the right, with right arm reaching toward the sky.
Intermediate: Lunge with your back knee off the ground.
Advanced: Lunge with your back knee on the ground, lift the back foot and grab for a quadricep stretch.
3. A Pose for Balance
Repeat 2 – 3 times per side
Beginner: Standing Knee to Chest: Press into the floor with your left foot and bring your right knee to your chest. Inhale to lengthen your body as you focus your gaze on one point. Hold for 3-5 breaths then repeat on the other side.
Intermediate/Advanced: Warrior III: Firm your left leg with a slightly bent knee, hinge at the hips, extend the right leg back and bring your chest toward parallel to the ground. Reach your arms forward, palms facing in. Hold for 3-5 breaths, repeat on the other side.
4. A Pose for Strength
Repeat 2 – 3 Times
Beginner: Passive Bridge with Arms at Sides: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet hip distance apart, arms along your sides with palms pressed into the floor. Press your feet into the ground and lift hips off the floor engaging the back and sides of your legs. Keep your head on the floor and eyes on the sky. Take 3-6 breaths keeping hips lifted.
Intermediate: Bridge with hands interlaced behind the back. Repeat 8-10 times.
Advanced: Bridge with one leg lifted at a time. Repeat 8-10 times per leg.
5. A Pose to Reduce Lower Back Pain
Beginner: Reclined Twist with Both Knees Bent: Lie on your back, bend both knees and draw them up to your chest. Extend your arms with your palms facing up to the sky.
Keeping your shoulders and head on the ground, lift your left hip a few inches to the left and bring your bent legs toward the floor on your right. To deepen the stretch, turn your head in the opposite direction of your legs. Hold for 4-8 deep breaths then switch sides.
Intermediate/Advanced: Reclined Twist with One Knee Bent: Bend your left knee and draw it in toward your chest. Keep your right leg long and reaching. Continue as for beginner. Hold for 4 – 8 deep breaths then switch sides.