5 Restorative Yoga Poses for Runners

After crossing the finish line of a long run, 10k or marathon you’ve got the feel-good feeling of runner’s high. But hours after your big race your muscles are sore and your body is left feeling exhausted and fatigued.

Restore your muscles and align your body with these five yoga poses.

Child’s Pose – Balasana

Balasana is a resting pose, so you can hold this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes. This pose stretches the ankles, thighs and hips and can also relieve back and neck pain. Child’s Pose can help soothe a stressed mind and can lessen fatigue.

First, kneel on the floor, sit on your heels, make your knees about as wide as your wipe while touching you big toes together. Slowly lay your midsection between your thighs. Lengthen your tailbone away from your pelvis. Lay your hands alongside your torso with your palms facing upward and release the fronts of your shoulders downward to the floor. Relax as you feel the weight of your front shoulders pull the shoulder blades across your back.

Leg Prop – Viparita Karani

Leg Prop pose is a relaxing and restorative, gentle inversion that has many benefits for runners like relieving cramped feet and legs. This pose is also therapeutic for arthritis, headaches, insomnia and both high and low-blood pressure. Calm your mind and ease anxiety and stress with this pose.

Begin with an open wall space. This can be on the floor or on a surface like your bed. Seat yourself beside the wall with your feet on the floor or the bed in front of you and the left side of the body touching the wall. Exhale and lie down gently on your back and bring yourself to the wall so that your legs are pressing against the wall and make sure that the bottom of your feet are facing upward. Your sitting bones should be pressed up against the wall comfortably and rest your back and head on the floor or bed. At this point your body will be in a 90-degree position.

Let the back of your head get heavy and make sure that your neck is in a natural position. Relax as you soften your face and throat while resting your hands on at your sides or on your belly—facing upwards. Hold this pose from five to 15 minutes with your eyes closed while deeply breathing through your nose.

Butterfly – Badhakonasana

The butterfly pose is a great stretch to release the tensions from the knees, thighs and groin muscles while improving flexibility. Begin with your spine erect and spread your legs out. Slowly bend your knees and bring your feet inwards toward your pelvis while the soles of your feet touch each other. Bring your heels as close to your body as you can. Take a deep breathe in and exhale as you press your knees and thighs downward to the floor. Emulate the movement of a butterfly with your legs and flap them up and down and breathe normally during this exercise. Start slowly and progress faster and faster. Continue to take deep breaths.

Stop and press your elbows against your knees and push them closer to the floor as you feel the stretch in your thighs. Take a deep breath in and slowly bring the torso up. Exhale as you gently release the pose and sit comfortably in a relaxed position.

Pyramid Pose – Parsvottanasana

This standing yoga posture combines forward bending backward bending and balancing. Pyramid pose is excellent for stretching the hamstrings and shoulders while building balance and coordination. For runners with flat feet this pose has been noted to be therapeutic.

Calm your mind by beginning Parsvottanasana in a standing position with your arms at your sides. Turn to your left and spread your feet 3-feet apart. Place your hands on your hips and align your heels. Turn the right foot to a 90-degree angle and bring your toes to a point. Point your left toes and turn them at a 60-degree angle. Ensure that your feet are about as wide as your hips in this scissor stance.

Turn your torso to face the same direction as your front foot. Slightly draw your left hip forward—squaring your hips. Draw your shoulder blades into your back without pulling your ribs forward. Inhale and reach your arms out to the side. Exhale and reach your arms behind your back. If you have flexible shoulders bring your hands into reverse prayer position.

Inhale and elongate your torso. Exhale and fold your hips while extending your midsection over your front leg. Keep your shoulders drawn back and feel the length of your spine. Be sure to keep your head extended forward. Hold this pose for up to one minute.

Seated Forward Fold – Paschimottanasana

Stretch the spine, shoulders and hamstrings with the seated forward fold. Begin in a sitting position with your legs in front of you. Draw the inner groin into the pelvis. Keep your torso long while leaning forward from the hips. Grip the sides of your feet with your hands with your elbows fully extended and thumbs on the soles. Forward bend while keeping your head raised.

With each inhalation you take lengthen and lift your torso slightly. As you exhale, progressively release into the forward bend. Stay in this pose from one to three minutes.

Image courtesy of Augusto Mia Battaglia/Flickr

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