Tight hamstrings? Aching quads? This yoga sequence for runners from Ashtanga teacher Sarai Harvey-Smith is here to help.
Stretching, we all know we should do it but many of us are guilty of letting it slip. This sequence only takes 10 minutes and is designed to stretch out tight hamstrings, glutes, hips and quads, open the chest, work the core, and generally make you a more flexible, happy runner. Try and do it a few times a week and hold each pose for 5-20 breaths (one breath = in + out.)
Chest, shoulders and armsUpward bound fingers pose
Interlace fingers, push your palms up, elbows in.
Cow face pose
Take right your hand behind your back with the little finger against your spine. Lift your right shoulder up and roll it back. Lift your left arm straight up and bend your elbow, catching your hands behind your back. Repeat on other side. If you can’t reach, use a belt or top to garb hold of.
Place both arms like the right arm in cow face pose above (2). If you can’t get your palms together then start with fingertips touching and your arms/hands lower down your back or hold your elbows and rotate your shoulders and arms out.
Legs and hips
Perform moves 4-10 on the right leg and then the left
With your left foot at 45 degrees and right foot at 90 degrees, roll your right thigh out so the knee is aligned with your right toes. Extend your right arm and lengthen both sides of your waist. Take your right hand to your right shin and extend your left hand to the sky. Look to your left hand or gaze straight ahead and keep your neck in line with your spine.
Side angle stretch
Bend your right knee with your thigh parallel to the floor, knee over ankle. Take the palm of your right hand to the floor on the outside of your right foot. Turn your hips, abdomen and chest up towards the ceiling keeping your right knee against your right arm. Repeat on left side.
With your hips square to front, right thigh (front leg) parallel to ground, push into your left foot.If your arms don’t straighten with hands together keep them slightly apart.
With your feet in the same position as triangle pose, stay upright, spine straight, outstretch your arms and keep your weight even on both feet.
Intense side stretch
Parsvottanasana concave back
With your heels aligned and hips square, lift your right toes up, Draw the right hip back, look up and keep your chest lifted.
Intense side stretch stage 2
Parsvottanasana forward bend
Curve spine and bring your head to knee/shin.
Downward facing dog
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Feet hip width apart and parallel. Hands shoulder width apart. Lift hips up and back, press legs back.
On the matCamel pose
Lift your chest, roll your shoulders back and engage your lower buttocks. If you can’t reach your toes, either keep your hands on your hips and move your elbows back or tuck your toes under to elevate your heels and lessen the distance you have to reach.
Low lunge variation
With your right leg forward, hips parallel, tailbone in and shoulders back, draw your left foot in towards your left buttock. Repeat on the other side.
One-legged pigeon pose
Eke pada raja kapotasana
With your right shin on ground and hips square facing to the to front, take your left foot with your left hand and move your heel towards buttock. Repeat on the other side.
This is a lovely pose to end with as quietens the brain and stretches out the whole of the back, hips, thighs and the ankles. If your ankles are stiff, put a rolled up towel under your shin bones. Place your forehead on the ground and your buttocks on your heels.Relax!
Sarai Harvey-Smith is an Authorised Level 2 Ashtanga Yoga teacher who teaches privately as well as at Triyoga and Yogaloft. She will be hosting a yoga retreat in Maya, Sri Lanka from 15-27 September and at Tilton House, East Sussex, from 4-6 January 2015. For more information visit saraiharveysmith.com