Cool Down, Stretch Out: The Postrun Yoga Sequence You Need
After a tough run, this yoga sequence is the perfect way to cool down. By targeting the legs, lower back, and hips, these poses stretch all the areas that need special attention after running. And since the muscles are already warmed up, it's the primetime to work on extending flexibility.
Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog lays a strong, active foundation for the rest of your practice:
- Begin on your hands and knees; your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees should be underneath your hips.
- Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside down "V" shape called Downward Facing Dog.
- Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for five breaths.
- Traditionally, this pose is done during Sun Salutation A, so you can also come into it from Upward Facing Dog.
Warrior 1 will give a big stretch to your hip flexors:
- From Downward Facing Dog, step your left foot forward between your hands. Turn your right heel in, press into your feet, and lift your torso up. You want your left foot to be slightly to the right of the center of your mat (not directly in front of your right heel).
- Once your hips are square, lift your arms up, and press your palms together. Draw your shoulder blades down towards your hips and gaze up toward your hands.
- Stay here for five breaths. Then come back to Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot forward and do Warrior 1 on the other side, and come back to Downward Dog.
Sugarcane Pose is an essential asana for any runner who needs to give her legs and back a little love:
- After you've completed Warrior 1 on both sides, you'll be in Downward Facing Dog.
- From here, step your left foot forward between your hands, and float into Half Moon Pose with your left hand planted firmly on the floor and your right leg lifted in the air. Stay for a few breaths to relax into the posture.
- On your inhale, bend your right leg in toward your chest. On the exhale, reach back for your right foot with your right arm. Your right hand will catch the top of your right foot.
- Once you've got a firm grip and you're stabilized in the pose, imagine you're kicking back. Press the top of your right foot into your right.
- Hold for five breaths before releasing the right foot back into Half Moon Pose. Return the foot to the floor, and try it on the other side.
Wide-Legged Forward Bend C
Wide-Legged Forward Bend C is a perfect pose to alleviate any stress in the back of your body. After any tough cardio, your legs will appreciate this posture:
- From Sugarcane Pose, come back to standing. Stand with your feet three to four feet apart, turning heels out slightly wider than toes.
- Bring your arms behind your back, clasping your fingers and pressing the heels of your palms together in a fist.
- Fold forward, hinging at your hips, drawing the crown of your head and your hands toward the floor. Relax your toes, and try to shift the weight of your hips forward so they're in line with your feet.
- Stay here for five deep breaths. Then press into your feet, engage your quads, and inhale as you stand up.
Hero Pose is a contemplative posture that really stretches your quadriceps:
- From Wide-Legged Forward Bend C, come to kneel on your mat with your knees together. Separate your feet, so you can sit down on the ground in between them.
- Use your hands to roll your calves away from your thighs. Curl the arches of your feet around the curve of your bum, so your toes are pointing behind you and slightly toward one another.
- Rest your hands on your thighs, press your palms together in front of your chest, or raise your hands overhead. Stay here for five deep breaths.
Butterfly Pose opens up the back and inner thighs:
- From Hero Pose, sit on your bottom. Bend both knees, and bring your feet together.
- Using your hands, open your feet up like a book, pressing your knees toward the floor with your elbows. If you want more of a stretch, then extend your arms out in front of you.
- Stay here for five breaths.
Legs Up the Wall
Tight legs and stiff lower backs will find comfort in this simple but important posture, Legs Up the Wall:
- After Butterfly Pose, grab your mat, and move it toward the closest wall.
- Sit sideways, and position yourself a few inches away from a wall. On your exhale, swing your hips 90 degrees to bring legs up the wall.
- Allow your shoulders and head to rest lightly on the floor, relax your arms at your sides, and close your eyes.
- Keep your legs firm against the wall, but don't force anything in this pose. If it feels uncomfortable on your lower back, then move a few more inches away from the wall.