August 27, 2013
Love to run? Give the muscles of your lower body some much-needed TLC by adding these yoga poses to your post-run stretch session.
Intense Side Stretch (Parsvottonasana)
This pose—commonly referred to as pyramid pose—is the perfect release for tight hamstrings. Begin standing with the feet hip-width distance apart and step your left foot back about 3-4 feet behind you, aligning the heel of the right foot with the heel of the left foot, allowing the left foot to turn out at a 45-degree angle. Place your hands on your hips and square your hipbones with the front edge of the mat, bringing the left hip slightly forward and drawing the right hip slightly back. With the core engaged to maintain length in the spine, begin to hinge at the hips and fold forward, allowing the torso to melt over the right thigh. Keep the thighs engaged throughout this pose as you release the crown of the head toward the mat and allow the arms to release toward the floor. Breathe deeply as you hold this pose for 30 seconds before repeating on the opposite side.
Fire Log (Agnistambhasana)
Don’t let sciatica slow your runs down. This pose stretches the outer hips—specifically the piriformis—which can help to relieve sciatic nerve pain. Sit comfortably on the edge of a folded blanket or towel cross in a simple cross-legged position. Place your left ankle on top of your right knee, allowing the shins to stack on top of one another, and release the left knee toward the right foot. You may opt to lightly place the hands on the thighs or release the palms to the mat just outside of each knee. Breathe deeply as you hold this pose for 30 seconds before repeating on the opposite side.
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Performed on your back, this pose provides a much-needed release for the hips and groin and an opportunity to unwind and de-stress after a long run. Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Begin to open the knees up to the sides of your mat as you join the soles of the feet together to touch. From this position, bring the heels in as close to the body as comfortable, making sure to keep the back on the floor the entire time. Place one hand over your heart and one hand over your abdomen as you breathe deeply and hold this pose for one minute.
For more ways to show your legs some love, try these foam rolling exercises.
Jessica Matthews, MS, E-RYTContributor
Jessica Matthews, M.S., E-RYT is assistant professor of exercise science at Miramar College. As a leading fitness expert, writer and educator Jessica is a regular contributor to numerous publications, including Shape and Oprah.com. She holds a B.S. in physical education teacher education from Coastal Carolina University and M.S. in physical education from Canisius College. She is a certified Personal Trainer, Group Fitness Instructor and Health Coach through the American Council on Exercise (ACE) as well as an Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) through Yoga Alliance and trained stand-up paddleboard (SUP) yoga instructor. Prior to teaching at Miramar, Jessica worked full-time ACE, serving in a number of key roles including exercise physiologist, certification director and senior health and fitness editor. Her past work also includes serving as aquatics director at Conway Medical Wellness and Fitness Center and designing health and physical education curriculum for grades K-12. Full Bio Jessica Matthews »