Whether you’re signed up for this weekend’s big London Marathon, preparing for next month’s Hackney Half-Marathon, or just getting out for a light jog as the weather gets better, yoga will up your running game more than you can imagine.
Yin yoga is a type where poses are held in a very relaxed way for a few minutes at a time, to release tension throughout the body, working deep into the muscles as well as through the tendons and ligaments of stiff joints.
Releasing this tension will leave you feeling free to move, lighter in your stride, AND will lower your risk of injury whilst you pace your way across town.
Basically a super-relaxed seated forward fold. This will ease out stiffness along the whole of the spine and into the hamstrings (backs of the legs) and calf muscles.
Sit with legs outstretched in front of you then let your spine round forwards as you fold your chest towards your legs. Relax everything - as much as you can!
TIME IT: stay here for 3-5 minutes, letting yourself drop further forwards naturally - oh, and come out slowly!
Works wonders for tight glutes and hips, which are bound to stiffen up when you’re putting in those training miles, and can be a major cause of lower back pain.
From caterpillar, bend your knees and draw your feet towards you. Bring the soles of your feet together, letting the knees fall to the sides to create a big diamond shape with your legs in front of you. Like in caterpillar, let the body drop forwards over the legs as you relax.
TIME IT: 3-5 minutes will allow the body to soften and release.
Saddle eases out muscular tension in the quads and hip flexors, both of which take a lot of strain in any running regime.
Sit on your feet with your knees spread comfortably apart (just over hip-width is good). Lower your torso back toward the floor, supporting yourself on your elbows - or, if you're quite flexible, the backs of your shoulders - until you feel a bit of a stretch in the front of the thighs and/or in the front of the hips. Again, try to relax. This can be a strong one so you might want to do one side at a time (keeping one leg long as one is bent back underneath you).
If you feel any pinching in the lower back or knees, come out, or don’t go so far.
TIME IT: Try 2 mins on each side initially and build up over time.
Supported heart opener
Tight chests and shoulders mean the body can’t open fully to breathe deeply, and if we’re not breathing deeply, we won’t be able to get enough oxygen around to keep all of our tissues regenerating efficiently… which, basically, leads to even more tension… not good…
Grab a bolster, chunky cushion or thick, rolled-up towel and lay it lengthways beneath your spine (if a cushion, get it mainly underneath your upper back).
Lie back over the bolster/cushion/towel and open your arms wide to the sides, letting the chest open up as much as possible.
Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath, watching the ribcage expand and relax.
TIME IT: 5-10 minutes will be bliss for the entire upper body... try not to fall asleep.