Pose your way to fitness with these 6 stretches

Hitting the mat for some dynamic yoga moves could take your run to the next level, says Amanda Khouv.

WHETHER you’re constantly riddled with running injuries or you’re looking for a new way to smash your PB, it’s not a new concept that yoga can boost your run.

“Yoga can lengthen out your muscles, especially your back and legs and balance the body with an activity that encourages release,” explains yoga and Pilates teacher, Sophia Pym. 

www.sophiapym.com 

Try Sophia’s six-move sequence here to undo some of the strain running can put on your body— and remember to breathe! 

Taking the time out to release those tight muscles with yoga could see you reaching new running goals in no time.

HOW TO DO IT

Keep your breath steady and deep throughout, holding each pose for around eight breaths. Move slowly between each pose.

DOWN DOG

Pose your way to fitness with these 6 stretches

WHY? “This pose will allow you to create space in the back of the legs and spine.”

Technique

* Start on the floor, on your hands and knees, placing your knees below your hips and your hands slightly forward of your shoulders.

* Spreading your hands, tuck your toes under. On an exhale, lift your knees away from the floor sending your hips up and back.

* Keep a deep bend in the knees and the heels lifted away from the floor. This allows the spine to fully lengthen. From here think about lifting your sitting bones up towards the ceiling making a pyramid shape with your body.

* Then with your next exhale breath, straighten the legs and stretch the heels toward the floor, only as far as your lower back can stay long and open.

* Reach your hands into the floor, lengthening the arms and spine, up to the hips reaching for the sky.

LOW LUNGE

Pose your way to fitness with these 6 stretches

WHY? “This pose opens up the front of the hips (the hip flexors), which have to work really hard when running to pull your legs forward.”

Technique

* Step one leg back into a long lunge and drop the back knee to the ground, ensuring the front knee is at a 90-degree angle.

* On an inhale, raise your arms to the sky, keeping them in line with the ears. Keep your hips square and do not drop your head back.

* After eight breaths, place your hands on the floor alongside your front foot, lift your back knee off the floor and step to the front of the mat, returning to standing.

* Repeat on the other leg.

SAFETY TIP: Keep the weight on the back leg forward of the kneecap

CHILD’S POSE

Pose your way to fitness with these 6 stretches

WHY? “This pose is about switching on the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest), which is the complete antithesis to the literal fight or flight of running.”

Technique

* Starting on your hands and knees, draw your bum to your heels reaching your arms ahead of you on the floor with hands, forehead and bum grounded. Be sure that you are supported rather than hanging in the air so that you can fully release.

* Breathe into the back of the body, drawing your attention to the parts of your back that feel the tightest.

* You might like to gently roll your head from side to side.

SAFETY TIP: Place a block or blanket between your bum and heels if you can’t close the gap

LIZARD POSE

Pose your way to fitness with these 6 stretches

WHY? “Opening up the hips will give you an easier stride in your running. This pose will create some much-needed space in the inner hips.”

Technique

* Starting on hands and knees bring one foot to the outside of your hand. Turn the toes out very slightly so that they face the same direction as the knee.

* Ease your back leg back, keeping the knee down so that you feel a stretch at the front of the hip.

* Keep your hands underneath your shoulders in line with your front foot. If they don’t reach the floor, use some bricks under them.

* Allow the front knee to open further by rolling onto the outside of the front foot. 

* After holding this pose for eight breaths, bring your hands back underneath your shoulders and step your front foot back so that you are on your hands and knees. Repeat the pose on the other leg.

LOCUST POSE

Pose your way to fitness with these 6 stretches

WHY? “It’s crucial to keep your spine healthy by strengthening it in extension (backbend) and this pose will do just that.”

Technique

* Come to lie on your front with legs together, arms alongside your body with shoulders relaxed. You can turn one cheek to the floor if that is more comfortable than having your forehead down.

* On an inhale lift your head, chest and legs, and draw your arms in line with the side of your body, turning the palms to face the body.

* Squeeze your legs together, keeping them parallel.

* Try to lift your head and chest as high as your legs and vice versa. Once you release from the pose, take child’s pose to rest.

SAFETY TIP: Keep your gaze forward and down to ensure the back of your neck remains in line with your spine

BRIDGE POSE

Pose your way to fitness with these 6 stretches

WHY? “Simultaneously open the back of your body and front of hips with this pose.”

Technique

* Lying on the floor on your back, place your feet on the floor hip-width apart, bringing the heels close to your sitting bones. Inhale and pressing firmly into your feet and arms, lift your bum high off the floor.

* On your next inhale, lift your chest a little higher so that you can roll your shoulders underneath you and clasp the hands together to help open the chest even further.

* Keep pressing your hips up by squeezing your glutes strongly.

To come out of the pose, move your shoulders out from underneath you and then slowly roll down the spine to relax.

SAFETY TIP: Keep your knees hip-distance apart - don’t let them swing out 


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