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While it may seem that running and yoga are miles apart, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Yoga for runners is beneficial in more than one way and is highly recommended for other similar sports and fitness enthusiasts … The right combination of asanas and breathing techniques helps in:
- building muscle strength and flexibility
- increases speed and endurance
- improves balance and mind-body co-ordination
- and also improves focus and determination.
Combine these with pranayama exercises like kapalbhatti, anulom-vilom and other deep breathing techniques for optimum result.
Here are some of the top yoga exercises for runners …
1. Butterfly Pose or Titali Asana: This is a good yoga position for runners as it stretches and opens up the hips, thighs and leg muscles, improves flexibility, relaxes aching muscles and is a great mood enhancer and stress buster. It should be avoided in case of any injury or knee pain.
2. Cow Pose or Gomukhasana: A restorative pose, it stretches the hips, ankles, thighs, shoulders, chest, deltoid and triceps. It strengthens the spine and abdominals and helps relieve a stiff or aching back and shoulders. Avoid it in case of any knee injury or if you have serious neck or shoulder problems.
3. Eagle Pose or Garudasana: This is apt for improving balance, strengthening the calves and for reducing rheumatism. Regular practice stretches the thighs, shoulders and upper back and also loosens the legs and hips, making them more flexible. In case you’ve had a knee, ankle or elbow injury then you should avoid this.
4. Tree Pose or Vrikshasana: Strike the tree pose for improving concentration and balance, while also opening the hips and making your legs stronger. It’s also beneficial for improving sciatica and in rejuvenating the mind and body. Avoid doing this posture if you’ve got migraine, insomnia or blood pressure.
5. Triangle Pose or Trikonasana: Simple and easy, this pose stretches and strengthens legs, knee muscles, ankles, chest and spine, abdominals, hips and the back. It also relieves stress and helps ward off any running injury. Avoid if you’re suffering from heart ailment, neck problem, eye strain, varicose veins or extreme fatigue.
6. Head-to-Knee Forward Bend or Janusirsasana: Perfect for runners as this pose is a great stretch for the hamstrings, backbone and the lower back. It strengthens the hips, abs, thighs and knees and works as a great stress buster. In case you have any back issue then use a pillow as a prop and avoid in case of severe backache.
7. Downward-Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana: It stretches the hips, the hamstrings and calves while also providing elasticity to the ankles. It decreases back pain, headaches and helps in deepening respiration. You should avoid it if you’ve got high blood pressure, infection or inflammation of the eyes, ears or any injury/inflammation of the back, hips or any part of your legs and hands.
8. Low Lunge Pose or Anjaneyasana: Strengthens your core balance and awareness, and also improves the strength + flexibility in your hips, legs, thighs, shoulders, arms and abdomen. It also expands the chest and lungs and regular practice of it helps runners develop better stamina and endurance. To be avoided by anyone suffering from heart problems, hernia or lower back pain.
Clear your mind, soothe your tired, aching muscles and improve your overall performance as a runner with regular practice of these basic yoga poses. The core strength, flexibility and focus that come from yoga are immensely valuable for runners and athletes alike, so be sure to include ‘em in your pre and post run workout sessions.
P.S – Don’t forget to consult the doc before you kick start your yoga practice!
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