Yoga for Marathon Runners

I was recently invited by Glaceau Smartwater to a beautiful rooftop yoga class at their HQ with the amazing Jessica Skye of Fat Buddha Yoga. I am one of those people who knows they need to go to yoga more often, but seems completely incapable of actually hauling my butt to a yoga class (I know, we’re the worst), so I grabbed the opportunity for a class with both of my pudgy little hands.

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I also have a bit of a soft spot for Glaceau Smartwater (yes, I can be sentimental about bottled water – bear with me). It first came out around the same time as Dayve and I went on our epic US road trip, and we used to buy freezing cold bottles of it from service stations because it contains electrolytes but tastes just like regular water. No yucky powerade zero or sweetener filled drinks with a weird salty edge; straight up amazing water, which just happens to be even more hydrating than regular water. It’s genius and it always reminds me of the best holiday in the world and so I love it.

It was a beautiful sunny morning and there were some serious tunes along for the class. I did really enjoy the class, but what really struck me was just how good I felt afterwards. As well as carrying marathon stress in my legs, I have permanently tense shoulders thanks to a combination of an ongoing shoulder injury and my permanently desk-bound status. The yoga definitely helped ease those tensions, and also eased off some of the many stresses I have been under recently. I can see why you’re all so in to this yoga thing.

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I felt so good after the class that I decided to get yoga in my life more regularly, especially as a recovery tool to aid both my marathon training and my frazzled brain. Due to my schedule I find it difficult to make it to regular scheduled classes, so I asked Jessica Skye at FBY to give me a rundown of the best yoga moves to counteract all the pavement pounding that comes with training for a marathon. She kindly obliged, and I thought I’d share the love. So, here are six of the best yoga poses for runners!

What can yoga do for those preparing for marathons?

As a high impact sport, running is known to cause tightness in the main muscle groups of the legs (quads, glutes, hamstring and calves). Tight muscles will pull at other parts of the body and can also create knee issues, joint pain and lower back issues – not to mention simple strains. Yoga is a key activity to compliment running, as it will keep the body balanced, train your breath work and increase lung capacity. Practicing yoga will also teach you how to channel your focus, get in the zone and learn to breathe efficiently… all essential tools to nailing the big race. A pretty important part of any sport or even just your day-to-day is to drink more water. Whether you gulp or sip – staying hydrated is a pretty smart thing to do.

Jess’ 6 post-run yoga moves  

I have added links to photos/videos of the poses described, in case you’re a yoga newbie like me!

1)   Uttanasasa Intense forward fold – Fold forward, tip tailbone up, but soften knees if this is too intense. To go deeper, grab opposite elbows behind your legs. Not only will this lengthen the backs of your legs but will also stretch out your back.

2)   Parsvottanasana Pyramid – Take a step forward, bringing your stance to around two-thirds. Press both heels into the floor to lengthen lower calves. Square hips, slowly fold over your front leg, bringing your nose towards your knee. Keep squaring the hips level with each other so as not to twist the lower back. To open the chest, grab opposite elbows behind your back. This will open the calves and hamstrings, it will also lengthen the spine and open your chest.

3)   Parivrtta Trikonasana Reversed triangle Maintain same footing as pyramid, bring both hands either side of your front foot, get long in the spine, slowly raise the hand on the outside of your front foot onto your hip. Slowly turn your chest in the same direction, maintain the press in both heels as well as squaring the hips. This will get a gentle twist in the spine, open the calves and IT band.

4)   Anjaneyasana Variation – Reversed low lunge variation with foot grab – Opening the hips, lengthening the hips flexors, gently twisting the spine, and opening the chest. The foot grab will create an intense stretch in the quads.

5)   Ardha Kapotasana – Half pigeon pose – Opening the hips and getting into the glutes. Make sure you line your knee up with your wrist and your shin is diagonal across your body – for more intensity, bring your shin parallel with the top of your mat. Make sure your hips are level, and if you want to go deeper, keep lowering your chest towards the ground.

6)   Ardha Supta Virasana Reclining hero pose – This reclining position will intensely stretch the lateral part quads. After bending at the knee and bringing your heel to the outside of your hip, allow the knees to fall where feels best and slowly walk yourself back with your hands until you find your edge. To go deeper, lean all the way back or do both legs at the same time.

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