Yoga is best known as a stretching discipline, but regular practice of it is more than that. It can help you as a runner to sidestep injuries – and you can do it from the comfort of your own home.
A huge range of top sportspeople, from runners and cyclists to footballers and tennis players, include yoga in their strength and conditioning regimes. It can help to iron out the muscular kinks caused by running on road or trail.
Yoga will positively enhance your running performance, focusing a jittery mind, helping you to run taller and sleep deeper. Here’s a taster of some yoga postures to get you started.
To encourage an upright running stance imagine that you have a pulley attached to your sternum or breastbone. Fastened to this pulley is a rope, the other end of which is fastened to the top of a building a block away. The rope is drawing you towards the building – an image that will both encourage a natural lift in your chest and supply the mental boost needed to propel you forwards when mind and body are flagging.
Lift and Lengthen sequence
‘Stand straight, shoulders back’ is the mantra for this series of standing postures based on mountain pose. But banish any images of a stiff sergeant major stance.
The aim is to gain postural awareness and a feeling of height by lengthening your spine without rigidity. The backbend gently opens your chest while the side-bends work the stabilising oblique abdominals. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Hold each pose for five slow breaths:
Stand tall. Hold your arms a little way from your sides and turn your palms to face front to open your shoulders. Tuck your chin slightly in and gaze ahead.
Tuck your pelvis under, draw your abdomen in and sweep your arms wide, spreading your fingers. Slowly extend your spine into a comfortable backbend. Raise your chin a little. Draw your hands just out of your line of vision.