Move Thy Butt! Yoga for Runners
Maybe just like you, I am a typical Generation X mom of a Generation Z daughter. I myself was a latchkey kid, the daughter of divorced parents, who dedicates her life to personal development with a strong focus on work-life balance. My daughter is part of the always-connected “iGeneration,” a socially aware, yet incredibly anxious and depressed group, plagued by social-media comparison.
A couple of weeks ago, my daughter came home from school lit up—and not from the screen of her iPhone. She had placed gold in the 1500 metre in gym class. It was at that moment that the seed of our-couch-to-5K journey was planted. We found the app, laced up our shoes, and began running together.
Running is well-known for its ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression, as well as boost self-confidence. Running together creates a bond, connection, and ongoing conversation that helps us to move forward as a team through the highs and lows of life
“One run can change your day; many runs can change your life” — Anonymous
Of course, it has been almost twenty years since this mom has hit the trails, so I am relying on my yoga practice to keep me in peak condition for my running days with my daughter. Here are my favourite yoga poses for running.
Supported Fish Pose
This pose opens your throat and chest to clear that passageway so that your diaphragm can push out the stale air and bring in fresh air when you breathe. Proper breathing lets you run longer and faster so that you can keep up with the gazelle that is your daughter. Rest back and breathe easy in this pose for 5–10 min.
This yoga pose strengthens your glutes and opens your hips. Strong glutes stabilize your pelvis and knees, support your body when you are on one leg, and move your hips and thighs. Strong glutes also help to prevent many common runner’s injuries such as patellofemoral syndrome, IT band syndrome, and knee injuries. Hold for 10–30 breaths.
Hip extensions for a firm behind! Most of us spend our days sitting, which tightens our hip flexors and weakens our glutes. Strong glutes help with hips extension and shock absorption when running. If those glutes are weak and don’t engage, when you are running, the force from the ground will transfer through weaker muscles such as the hamstrings, which can result in calf injuries, hamstring strains, and Achilles tendonitis.
The hip extension combined with strong glutes in locust pose is the most important factor in your ability to run faster. It is hip extension that drives your leg backwards after your foot comes in contact with the ground. In this pose, think about extension more than lifting, and hold for 5–10 breaths on each side.
Supported Chair Pose
I love supported chair pose for its eccentric contraction: That is, your muscles are lengthened during controlled contraction. As you lower yourself and hold this pose, your glutes and hamstrings are eccentrically contracting—in other words, you are building strength and flexibility at the same time. Find a park bench or rail, keep your chest high, and sit back for 10–30 breaths.
If you live on Vancouver Island, be sure to wave to my daughter and I as we sport our tutus with thousands of other women celebrating the power of coming together to reach our goals in the 7th Annual Goddess Run on June 2, 2018.
Dr. Melissa West
She helps you restore your energy every Friday on YouTube with her library of over 400 restorative, yin, and hatha yoga videos.