Yoga For Runners
As most of you know, I am a devoted yogini. What some of you may not know is that I was a PRO track athlete for twelve years.
I ran for one of the best clubs in Vancouver (well the one that has produced the most champions) under a coach who taught me the foundations of what it meant to be a great runner. When my career ended abruptly due to knee injury, I was devastated and it took me years to process the fact that the Divine had another path for me to follow.
This was my first lesson in surrender.
Over the years and especially during times of ‘spiritual crisis’ where I stepped away from my yoga practice, I came back to running (distant running, not competitive) and this has been my saving grace, my form of meditation and it has been my loyal best friend keeping me company when I lived in strange countries, holding my hand through my darkest moments and revealing to me, my truest nature.
Deep, I know. I am sure that many of my runners out there feel the same way.
I did not realize the power of unifying my yoga practice with my running practice but in doing so, I have, without knowing, protected my joints and body and have given myself the mental space to be able to run farther, faster and harder than I ever had before.
Here are some of my favourite poses to help you become a stronger, faster and more agile runner:
1. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) - Stand with your legs 3 ft apart right toes pointing forward, left toes in at 45 degrees, both legs straight. Raise your arms up to shoulder height, take a deep breath and reach your right fingertips forward in space. Bend at the waist and hold your right big toe, ankel or shin raising your left hand to the sky and gaze at your left fingertips.
Hold for 10-20 Breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
2. Warrior III (Virabhadrasana III) - Straighten both legs and firmly plant your left foot into the mat. Raise your right leg so that it is parallel to your hip, keeping both hips aligned. Straighten your arms and hold them out in front of you in prayer or folded at your heart.
Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
3. Crescent Moon Pose (Anjanyeasana) - Come into a lunge pose bringing your left knee down to the mat and your right leg at 90 degrees. Extend at the waist, straighten your arms and place your hands in prayer. Inhale as you bring your arms and hands over your head, stretching your hip flexor and abdomen.
Hold for 10-20 breaths and repeat on the oppositie side.
4. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) - Bring your right shin parallel to the front of your mat with your ankel flexed and your right sit bone to the mat. Stretch your left leg and toes toward the back of the mat and square your pelvis. Breathe here until your hip begins to open and then lean forward resting your chest on your shin or as far down as possible.
Hold for 25-50 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
5. Cow Face/Shoelace Pose (Gomukhasana) - Sit on your right sit bone bringing your right leg over your left leg (like a shoelace), stacking your knees, whilst flexing both ankels. Lengthen your spine and breath into your outer hips.
Hold for 15-20 breaths. Repeat on the opposite side.
With regular practice of these yoga asanas, you will notice your tendons, ligaments and joints strengthen, improved flexibility and a better quality of muscle tissue which will greatly improve your running form and time.