A Trip In The Life Of A Travelling Yogi
The Repetitive action of running on muscles can cause tightness and discomfort, which can restrict you and your muscles ability give it everything. Ideally, training for a marathon or big race should always involve the support of a running coach or a physio.
Sadly, most of us have neither the time or resources for such things. However, combining running practice with activities like yoga can bring more energy to those muscles needed to give you the strength to smash your PB.
The first power you need to be able to call on as a runner is your breath. Yogic breathing can assist you when you need to eke out those last moments of energy by giving you access to more of your lungs. Focusing on the breath can also create a meditative state that will get you through the tough spots of a run. Mile 20, for instance.
So to create some space and strength in your rib cage, start by breathing with your arms. Take a deep breath in and as your ribcage expands reach the arms over head, then bringing them back to your sides, breath out. Do that a few times, and let your breath start the movement.
Next we’ll get into the hips with a runners lunge. Step one foot back, and lower the back knee to the floor, then sink the hips forwards and down. Notice whether this puts strain on your joints. If it does, find your feeling of rebounding lift through the pelvic floor (if you don’t know what that is google it – valuable asset to know about).
Now, the foot that is in front, place the hand on the same side on the knee, and stretch the other hand up into the air, and if you can with ease, press the heel of your hand up to the sky, fingers pointing back behind you. This will activate a stretch in the psoas, the long muscle, which is as thick as your wrist, that runs from your spine to top of the femur and creates much of the action used in running.
Interestingly, the fibres of this muscle link up to the fibres of the diaphragm at the same part of the spine – what did we tell you about breathing. Important.
Repeat this on the other side.
Finally pigeon pose, the big daddy of all runners yoga poses. Be careful with this one – approach with caution.
From all fours, place your right ankle in front of your left knee. Stretch your left leg back behind you in line with left hip point with toes tucked under. This is a spacious way to come into pigeon.
Allow gravity to slowly, breath by breath, weight the pelvis down towards the floor. Keep the hips level, don’t let one side drop down. Use blankets and cushions for support under your hips if it’s tight and if you feel any pain in the knee or hip joints come out of the position.
This is a great pose for stretching the hip rotators (in the bum) and the hip flexors (the long muscles down the front of the thigh) which allows suppleness in the hips and a more fluid and mobile movement in running.