Maybe you’re new to the whole hardcore running thing, or you’re just trying to take your running to the next level — either way, it’s likely that you’ve been looking up your game and improve your experience. Well that, my friends, is where Justine Bacon of Philly Yoga Factory comes in.
Bacon, a local yoga pro in Philly, is known for her yoga classes for runners and cyclists. Here, Bacon shares five need-to-know yoga poses, tweaked specifically for the needs of runners who want to improve their running, safely, without having to hit the studio. Read on for the five poses, when you should do them and how it will help your running.
Malasana (Also known as the yogi squat)
The pose: “Bring your feet mat-width apart, turn your toes slightly out and sit your hips between your heels. Be mindful to keep your heels connected to the ground — lift your hips back up again to plant your heels if needed. Press down through the pinky-toe side of your feet, bring your hands to your heart and use your elbows to guide your knees open gently.”
The benefits: Bacon calls this pose the “undercover master,” because, aside from the obvious hip and groin-opening benefits, it strengthens and stabilizes your feet and ankles AND tones your abdominal muscles. #Winning.
When to do it: Bacon suggests getting into this pose for at least five deep breaths before and after a run.
The pose: “Imagine your body as an upside-down V or a triangle. Be sure that you have your feet hips-width apart, bend your knees generously and keep your hips high. Let your heels settle down toward the floor, or as close as possible. With your arms shoulder-width apart, spread your fingers wide and press the top of your mat forward to help send your hips higher and further back. Draw your belly button in and up toward your spine. It doesn’t matter whether or not your heels touch the mat, but it does matter that they move in that direction.”
The benefits: Bacon says she could “geek out” on the benefits of this pose all of them all day long, but to name a few specifics: it stretches your Achilles and calves; the pedaling motion will also stretch out your toes, ankles and soles of your feet; keeping your hips high helps lengthen your hamstrings; and holding yourself up in this position builds strength in the upper body.
When to do it: Bacon suggests staying here, in this pose, for at least five deep breaths before your next run.
The pose: “From downward dog, bring your right knee toward your right wrist, and your right toes toward your left wrist. Place your shin parallel-ish with the top of your mat. As you extend your left leg back, stay evenly weighted on both hips. If you want a more focused quad stretch, bend your back knee, reach around and grab hold of your foot with your hand or lasso it with a strap. If you are practicing on one side and this posture is too deep or is aggravating to your knee, practice a reclined version: Lay on your back, cross your right ankle over your left thigh and either hold the back of your left thigh or prop your left foot on a wall.”
The benefits: As Bacon says, “This posture is beloved by most yogis because of how amazing it feels for your outer hips and glutes, but it also helps alleviate sciatic pain, while lengthening your quads, hips flexors, psoas AND it stretches throughout your groin.”
When to do it: Bacon suggests stretching it out here for at least five deep breaths after a run, with an option to relax into it for a few minutes on each side.
The pose: “Lay on your back and hug your right knee into your right shoulder as you extend your left leg down to your mat. Breathe here as your right hip flexor compresses and your left lengthens gently. On an exhale, guide your right knee across your body toward the left edge of your mat. Reach your right arm out into a ‘T’ shape, and turn your head toward your shoulder. Here, use each breath to iron your shoulders down. Stay here for at least five breaths or stay for a few minutes, but always remember to practice the same way on your second side.”
The benefits: Bacon explains that, as-is, this pose can help release your lower back, but if you were to straighten your right leg out to the left while in this posture, it would stretch your IT Band as well.
When to do it: As Bacon says, “This is the perfect pose for after a run to release compression in your lower back.”
Legs up the wall
The pose: “Simply lay with your legs propped up on the wall and rest your arms wherever is most comfortable for you. You can either lay with your legs straight up the wall, or you can find a straddle to allow gravity to gently help you stretch through the inside of your legs.” And — you guessed it! — this is a great pose to do in bed, Bacon assures us.
The benefits: Bacon considers this pose an “underestimated gem” because it relaxes your nervous system and helps When to do it: Bacon suggests adding this pose to your post-run routine, especially during training season.
For an added bonus (and visual aid), follow Justine Bacon on Instagram at @yogabrainphilly. To help us all out, she will be posting a one pose from this sequence every day in the days to come. And, if you want to take one of her classes for runners or cyclists, you can check out her schedule here.
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