It was hard to watch the London Marathon last week and not feel inspired by thousands of people who dedicated their time, not to mention their physical and mental energy to raise money for so many worthy causes.
The preparation and exertion that goes into running cannot be underestimated, and for any regular runners out there, feeling tight, sore or tender are just some of the physiological effects of such extensive training. Taking the time to stretch before and after your run is so vital to minimising any tension or pain, which in turn makes you susceptible to injury.
The following are my top 3 asanas to help all you runners out there create a sustained feeling of flow before and after your practice – whether you are new to yoga or an experienced yogi!
1. Downward-Facing Dog
Whilst a seemingly simply asana, this is an excellent pose for opening the back of the legs. It helps to lengthen the glutes, hamstrings and calves.
How to practice: Start on all fours, with your hands shoulder-distance and hip-width apart. Lift your knees away from the floor whilst pressing your hands and feet firmly towards the ground. Ensure you lengthen your legs and feel your lower back straighten as you relax your head & neck, and gaze towards your feet.
2. Deep Squat Pose
This pose stretches the ankles & groins, lengthens the spine and tones the stomach muscles.
How to practice: Stand upright and Keep your legs parallel while bending your knees and pressing your heels into the floor, maintaining even weight on both feet. Once your knees are completely bent, spread them wide and move your chest forward between your thighs, placing your hands together in prayer pose.
3. Half Splits Pose
This pose stretches the thighs, hamstrings, and groins. Practicing the correct technique ensures you are evenly stretching your body, leading to faster gains in your flexibility over time.
How to practice: Begin in Downward-Facing Dog, with the palms firmly grounded and the hips lifting high and back. Step your right foot forward between your hands. Lower down onto your left knee, tucking the toes in. Keep the front foot flexed to activate the hamstrings and your hips square.