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On the Run

Yoga for Runners and Cyclists

Hitting the pavement either by foot or tire can put a lot of stress on certain muscles. Yoga can provide some relief and recovery. Yoga can help loosen up tight spots that tend to arise for frequent runners and cyclists, strengthen weak spots, and help you be more efficient and less prone to injury. Yoga can be a great recovery activity to relieve soreness and tension in your muscles and restore your range of motion. Often runners and cyclists build up certain muscles more than others and can find weakness in opposing muscle groups and yoga can help balance out any of these areas.

Plus, yoga has some great mental benefits along with it like allowing you to practice mindfulness and being present in the moment. Always listen to your body. Yoga is not a competitive sport. Yoga is for YOU. Never push yourself into pain. Focus on the breath. Half of yoga is about breathing. Practicing breathing while doing yoga can help regulate emotions, reduce stress and anxiety, and help with your concentration and coordination.

Here are a few poses to try after your next run or ride:

Downward Dog

Benefits: Stretches hamstrings, calves, and foot arches; strengthens shoulders

How to:  Begin on your hands and knees. Align your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Spread your fingers and press into your palms. Tuck your toes and lift your knees off the floor. Gently try to straighten your legs and raise your hips into an inverted V. Breathe deeply for 10 breaths. As your muscles loosen, try to straighten your legs more and sink your heels towards your mat.

Low Lunge

Benefits: Stretches hip flexors; strengthens hamstrings and quads

How to:  From Downward Dog, step your right foot forward between your hands. Lower your left knee, and – keeping the right knee in place – slide the left one back. Turn the top of your left foot to the floor and lift your torso upright. Then sweep your arms out to the sides and up overhead. Drop your tailbone towards the floor and look up. Hold for 10 breaths, release, and repeat on the other side.

Toes Pose

Benefits: Helps prevent plantar fasciitis by stretching the shins and arches of the feet

How to:  Kneel on your mat with your toes curled under. Sit back on your heels (you can place a yoga block or pillow between your heels and glutes). Breathe deeply for 10 counts. Then, point your toes, place your hands on the mat behind you, and lean back as you attempt to lift your knees off the mat. If your knees don’t come far up, don’t worry. You’ll still feel a nice stretch in your shins and arches.

Standing Forward Bend

Benefits: Stretches hamstrings

How to: Begin standing with your hands on your hips. Exhale and bend forward at the hips. Hold onto opposite elbows and let your head hang. Bend your knees as much as you need, let your belly come to your thighs. Make sure you are folding at the hips, not at the waist. Press your heels down and if comfortable, gently work to straighten your legs.

Reclining Pigeon

Benefits: Releases tension and tightness in the hips

How to: Lie on your back with your knees bent, and your thighs parallel and hip-distance apart. Cross your left ankle over your right thigh. Reach your left arm through the space between your thighs and reach your right arm around the outside of your right thigh. Clasp your hands below your right knee and flex your left foot. If your head comes off your mat, place a pillow or block behind your head. Hold for 10 breaths and repeat on the other leg.

Reclining Spinal Twist

Benefits: Relaxes the lower back and stretches the glutes

How to: From Reclining Pigeon, lower your legs and twist to your left, while keeping your legs intertwined. Extend both arms out to your sides. Turn your head to the right and relax for 10 breaths. Switch sides.

Legs Up the Wall

Benefits: Relieves tension in legs, feet, and back; stretches hamstrings and glutes

How to: Sidle up beside an open wall space, with your hips as close to the base of the wall as is comfortable. Swing your legs up the wall and lie back. Rest here anywhere from 10 breaths to 10 minutes. Some people even nod off – sleep is the most essential recovery pose.

Have you tried any of these yoga poses before? Did they help your running? Tell me in the comments!

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