I love practicing yoga because it stretches out my tight hips and hamstrings. I hate stretching out my tight hips and hamstrings because it’s frustrating—ouch. Seeing my neighbor easing into a full split while I strain my legs into (something vaguely resembling) a half split is disheartening. But I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone, that many fellow marathoners have muscles wound as tightly as mine. If you’re one of those runners, you’ll understand the struggles of these 5 common yoga poses:
1. Downward Dog
It’s one of the very basics, but after a long training run your screaming calves might make it impossible to get your heels flat on the ground. Pedal it out and don’t sweat it. Effortless downward dogs are for the off-season.
Of course, I’m usually hanging out in half pigeon instead. Working that front leg into a right angle is hard enough, but reaching for that back leg adds a killer quad stretch. This pose will make you feel those weak runner’s hips, but it’ll strengthen them, too.
3. Cobbler’s Pose AKA Butterfly
It seems so easy: Put the bottoms of your feet together, frog-style, and bend forward with a flat back. In practice, tight inner thighs and hips make it a lot harder than it sounds. When your feet are pulled in close, bending forward is a pain in the groin.
The pose is not nearly as fun as this GIF of Slater. It’s another hip opener, where one leg is rooted and bent at a top corner of the mat while the other stretches to the back. Your forearms should be resting flat at the inside of the front leg, but if you’re logging 30+ miles a week… good luck settling into that comfortably.
Another way to release those hammies after running. If yours are rubber-band tight like mine, bend into your front knee a little and it won’t be so bad. It hurts, but it’ll make you a better—and more limber—runner.
YOUR TURN: What yoga poses challenge you the most? Which ones do you love?
Images from Giphy.com