Yoga is the perfect recovery activity for runners. It relieves soreness and tension in your muscles and restores range of motion so that you can run better the next time you hit the road. A simple yoga routine can loosen tight spots, strengthen weak areas and make you a better, less injury-prone runner.
In addition, the meditative side of the practice is important. So try to let go of thoughts about work and day-to-day life when you’re on the mat. If you succeed, you’ll find that yoga offers an excellent timeout even within the confines of your own home.
Try doing these 12 moves following a run or on a rest day (or both). During the exercises, breathe deeply and consciously, stay relaxed and never hold your breath. Breathe deeply into your stomach – watch or feel your stomach as it expands then exhale deeply.
Have a go…
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Lie on your stomach. Move your arms back and grab your ankles. Move your feet up and back. Hold for a few deep breaths. When breathing from your belly, rock back and forth gently.
2 Relaxed Sitting Position
Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position on the mat. Your back should be straight as possible, preferably forming a right angle to the floor. Relax your shoulders and stomach. If you want, close your eyes for a moment.
Move onto all fours, hands below your shoulders and knees below your hips. From this position, drop your belly towards the floor and keep your face forward so your spine is moving with you.
Now move your back in the opposite direction, so you have an arched back, like a cat when it is stretching. Look towards your belly button to activate your entire spine. Flow from 3 to 4 and back to make a more dynamic exercise: do 10 reps.
5 Downward Dog
Place your hands on the mat. Position your feet hip-width apart and push your heels gently towards the floor. Straighten your arms and back, and pull your belly button inwards. Hold for 10 breaths.
Lie on your back. Now move your feet back over your head. Your arms lie flat on the floor, palms of your hands either on the mat or interlocked together. For more of a stretch, push your heels further away from your body.
Lie on your back, feet hip-width apart and knees bent so that, where possible, you can touch your heels with your fingertips. Push your chest upwards as far as possible, and your shoulders and arms down into the mat. Your knees should not tilt sideways. Hold for 10 breaths.
8 Standing Forward Bend
Slowly bend forward with a straight back. Your hands don’t need to reach the floor – just keep going until you feel the stretch and then remain in that position for 10 breaths.
Stand up and look forward. Stand on one leg and place the foot of the other on the inside of the thigh of the standing leg. Push your knee back to stretch your hips. Hold one min on each side.
10 Running Crocodile
Relax and lie on your stomach. Place your hands one on top of the other, and rest your forehead on top. Turn your head to the left and bring your left elbow and left knee together. Return to the middle and repeat on the other side.
When kneeling, lean forward onto your lower arms, move your left leg forwards and place your foot beside your hands. The lower part of your rear leg should lie on the mat. Switch sides after a few breaths.
Move one leg forward and bend it at an angle. Your shin should be parallel to the short side of the mat. Your other leg is parallel to the long side of the mat, and stretched out behind you. Straighten your upper body; hold for a couple of breaths and repeat on the other side.
13 Sitting Forward Bend
Sit on the mat with your legs stretched out in front of you, and stretch your arms upwards. Lower your upper body from your hips, making sure that your back stays straight. Gently stretch forward; grab your feet if you can. After a few breaths, straighten up.
Position your right foot parallel to the short side of the mat, with your left foot parallel to the long side. Stretch both arms out to the side and, upon breathing out, move your hip out to the right. Lower your upper body and move your left hand towards your left foot. Note: make sure not to tip forward from your hips. Hold the position for a few seconds, then do the same moves for the other side.
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