Are you one of the many people who thinks yoga isn’t for them because you’re a runner? Well, think again! Yoga offers many benefits that can boost your running ability, recovery, and even help reduce the risk of injury. If you’re not interested in becoming a full blown yogi, you can still benefit from incorporating a few basic poses into your fitness routine.
1. Kneeling Partial Squat
While it might be slightly awkward at first, the kneeling partial squat pose helps stretch and strengthen the calves, shins, and ankles. Kneel with one leg and pull the other into a squat position. To start, the toes of the foot on the squatting side should be in-line with the ankle of the other foot. Next, you can make the stretch easier or more intense by sliding the toes of the kneeling leg forward or back. Find what works for you and gently hold the position for around ten seconds to begin with. Repeat the stretch on the other side. Gradually you will be able to go deeper into the stretch and hold it longer. This is a great way to warm up or cool down.
2. Downward Dog
One of the most well known positions for a reason, downward dog is an excellent pose for runners to use. Start on the ground with your hands on the floor and knees on the floor, in-line with your hips, and your hands positioned slightly in front of your shoulders. As you exhale, lift your knees from the ground slowly, keeping them slightly bent as you work into the pose. Inhale, and as you exhale again begin straightening your knees while still keeping them relaxed. The idea is to stretch, not to lock your knees in place. Use your hands to balance and push into the stretch. Eventually the position should be held for up to three minutes to get the most benefit, but start with a shorter length of time and gradually increase it as your strength and flexibility improves.
Plank pose helps strengthen your core, arms, and back. The plank can be done as an extension of the downward dog for the most benefit, or done directly from the floor. When doing the pose from downward dog, gradually lower yourself by walking your feet backward until you’re almost in a push-up position. Your hands and arms should be directly under your shoulders, your legs straight, resting on your toes rather than having your feet flat on the ground. Work up to holding this pose for at least thirty seconds.