Visualize this: you find yourself needing a break from your stationary and stressful day. So you find a time that fits into your schedule, get your gear on, grab a buddy and enjoy an hour of high endorphin, toxin-removing, sweaty, deep breathing and clarifying bliss.
Sound familiar? Sound therapeutic? Sound like running? As well as yoga? It does to me and that’s why I love both yoga and running equally. It’s amazing how similar the emotional benefits of yoga and running are while being complementary forms of exercise.
The health benefits of running include:
- helping to build strong bones and strengthening muscles
- improves cardiovascular fitness
- burns kilojoules
- helps maintain a healthy weight.
And yoga has been shown to help with:
- stress reduction
- improved fitness (balance, flexibility, range of motion and muscular and bone strength)
- management of chronic conditions (like heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, anxiety, insomnia)
To maintain a good range of motion and flexibility as well as a steady mental focus, some form of yoga should be incorporated to complement your running routine. Also, running increases cardiovascular health that usually peaks after a few years of steady yoga practice. Jogging keeps the heart and lungs strong in a way that yoga does not (not to mention the time outdoors!).
Following are simple poses that target the lower back, hamstrings and outer hips, to soothe your body and mind after a long run (or after a long day at a desk!).
Standing Forward Fold / Uttanasana (for lower back and hamstrings)
Stand with your feet hip width apart or wider and bend forward at the hips. Keep your knees bent deeply. Either hold opposite elbows with your hands or keep fingers on the ground and relax the neck.
Butterfly / Baddha Konasana (for hip flexor/upper thigh muscles)
Seated, take the soles of your feet together and knees wide. Hold the feet with hands and bend forward with a long spine and shoulders back. Option to sit on a cushion or block.
Half Splits / Hanuman (for hamstrings)
From low lunge with right foot forward, straighten your front leg and lean pelvis back in space. Have only your front heel on the ground and toes facing the ceiling. If you fold over front leg, keep spine long and lead with the chest. Option to keep a micro bend in the front leg and have blocks under hands.
Sit on Heels with Toes Tucked / Vajrasana (for feet/toes, to stretch soles of the feet)
Come onto knees and sit back on heels, with toes tucked under. Keep your knees and big toes together. Maintain a tall spine. Option to stand on the knees rather than sitting back on heels if it’s too intense.
Thread the Needle (for outer hips)
Take a seated position or lie on your back and cross right ankle over left thigh. Either keep your left foot on the ground, or lift it and interlace hands behind left hamstring and draw the knees in closer. Encourage the right knee away from you and the right toes flexed towards shin.
Happy Baby (for inner thighs and outer hips)
Lying on your back, take knees into chest and wide. Weave arms inside knees and hold either your ankles or outer feet. Flex your feet up towards the ceiling and take your bent knees wider out to the sides while keeping low back, shoulders and head on the ground.
Legs up the Wall / Viparita Karani (to relieve swelling from ankles/knees, to restore lower back)
Lie on your back and bring legs up the wall. Have your bum two inches away from the wall to give yourself space to bend knees slightly. Place hands on stomach or arms wide at your sides. Option to tie a strap around thighs or take legs wide into a V shape on the wall.