For all you runners out there…
If you practice Hot Yoga, then I don’t need to roll out the extensive list of benefits you already know you will find from regular practice (increased energy, flexibility, fitness, calmer state of mind, healthy weight- ok sorry, I just had to name a few!). Of all the fantastic improvements that I have experienced due to my Hot Yoga regime, there is one that makes me especially grateful for it.
I have always had tight and painful muscles in the back of my legs, especially my calves. Even as a baby, I had shapely calves that a gym junkie would be envious of! This aside, they always caused me a lot of pain when walking and (especially) when running. Despite this pain, I still loved to run- more for the stress-relieving side of it than anything else. However, I couldn’t run for more than 10 minutes without having to stop due to the tightness and pain in my calves, which was annoying because I knew it had nothing to do with my cardiovascular fitness. Because of this, I went to a specialist to see what he could do about it, but he diagnosed me with ‘compartment syndrome’ (a common problem) and said that running wasn’t for me. This annoyed me… a lot. Especially because my legs hurt even when just walking around uni or going up a slight incline.
Anyway, long-story-short, I started doing Hot Yoga regularly about two years ago, having done it before but never on a regular basis. From not being able to run for more than ten minutes, I can now run as far and for as long as I like- with absolutely NO PAIN. I can’t thank Hot Yoga enough for this freeing benefit- but there are a few poses that I especially owe a ‘thank-you’ to. So here they are, for all you runners out there: 5 poses that are great for running!
1. Padahastasana from Behind (Hands to feet Pose)
While activating the core, fold the torso forward with a straight back, with an aim to touch the floor with the finger tips. Bend the knees as much as needed to be able to cup the hands underneath the heals (pinkie fingers touching and parallel to each other under the heels). Use arm strength to pull the torso downwards and flat to the thighs, aiming to position the triceps behind the shins. Hold for 5 breaths.
2. Adho mukha savasana (Downward Facing Dog)
Start on the floor on the hands and knees. Place the knees directly under the hips and the hands directly under the shoulders. Curl the toes under and push the hips upwards to create an upside-down ‘V’ shape or pyramid. Create even pressure between the hands and feet, aiming to have the feet flat to the mat (this takes practice). Push the chest gently towards the thighs to straighten the back. Hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
3. dandayamana-Bibhaktapata-Janushirasana (Standing serpate leg head-to-knee pose)
Start standing with the feet touching and the hands in reverse prayer or grasping the elbows behind the back. Step one leg a short distance in front (about 3 feet) with the hips still parallel. Ensuring that both feet are pointing the toes forward, tuck the chin towards the chest and engage the core. Fold the torso forward with a straight back until the forehead touches the knee of the front leg (bend the knee as needed to achieve this connection). Place the hands on each side of the front foot for balance or place the hands in prayer in front of the foot. Hold for 5 breaths and then lift the torso up with a straight back and the arms straight and touching the ears.
4. Dandayamana Janushirasana (Standing head-to-knee)
Start standing with the feet touching and hands on the hips. Move the body weight into one leg and lift the other leg to an angle, with the thigh parallel to the ground. For the next stage of the pose, interlace the fingers underneath the knee. To continue into the pose, interlace the fingers under the foot. Once the standing leg is strong and straight, extend the other leg to be parallel with the ground, with the fingers still interlaced under the sole of the foot. Finally, fold the torso over the leg with a straight back, aiming to touch the forehead to the knee. Hold for 5 breaths.
Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)
Start by sitting with the legs out in front, slightly bent. By engaging the core, with a flat back fold the torso over the thighs, grasping the soles of the feet with the toes meeting the crease of the wrists. Aim to lower the head down to the knees or shins by bending the elbows and gently pulling at the feet (while keeping a straight back). Hold for 5-10 breaths and then rise the torso with a straight back and strong core.