The movements inherent to yoga and trail running may seem wildly different, but they share one important feature: both require you to be in the present. Lose your focus for an instant and you may wind up face-down on your mat or in the dirt.
Of course, yoga can also help you develop the focus you need to run well on trails, as well as enhance flexibility and posture. If you’re a regular or amateur trail runner, adding some of these yoga poses on cross training days can really improve your performance on the trails. Here is a sequence of three simple ones to get you started:
Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Tadasana is usually the starting position for all the standing poses. But it’s useful to practice Tadasana as a pose in itself. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute, breathing easily.
Remember to stand tall, knees over feet, hips over knees. Level your pelvis, lengthen your spine, and relax your neck, shoulders, and arms as you lightly engage your core and feel your chest expand with each breath.
• Improves posture
• Strengthens thighs, knees, and ankles
• Firms abdomen and buttocks
• Relieves sciatica
• Reduces flat feet
Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog)
Adho Mukha Svanasana is one of the poses in the traditional Sun Salutation sequence. It’s also an excellent yoga asana all on its own and the ultimate full-body stretch.
To begin, sit on your heels, lower your head on the mat, stretch your arms forward. Lift your buttocks and back up towards the sky. Push with your hands and straighten your legs. Extend your pelvic bones up and heels down. Let your head hang freely, stretch your waist. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes.
• Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression
• Energizes the body and stretches the shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands
• Strengthens the arms and legs
• Helps prevent osteoporosis
• Improves digestion and relieves headache, insomnia, back pain, and fatigue
• Therapeutic for high blood pressure, asthma, flat feet, sciatica, sinusitis
Utthan Pristhasana (Lizard Pose)
Yoga beginners may find the Lizard Pose intense and challenging, but it is an excellent way to increase the flexibility and mobility of your hips.
From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot between your hands to a lunge position. Bring both forearms to the floor inside the right leg. Keep your inner left thigh lifting and resisting. As your left heel reaches back, your heart opens forward to create length in your upper back. You can modify the pose by bringing your back knee down or placing your forearms on a block. Stay for 8 breaths. Switch sides.
• Opens the hips, hamstrings, groins and hip flexors
• Strengthens the inner thigh muscles on the front leg
• Opens and releases the chest, shoulders and neck
• Prepares the body for deeper hip opening poses
Yoga is great for running cross-training and can be used for post-run stretches as well to recover from a run, or to just lengthen a part of your body that’s causing you discomfort.
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