Editor's Note: You can also use these poses to relieve tight spots after your long training runs leading up to race day.
This time last year, I was soaking in a bath full of Epsom salts and convincing myself that the soreness in my legs, my hips and my back would be gone the following day. Although my body was feeling the repercussions of all 13.1 miles of the Philadelphia Half Marathon, I still felt unstoppable. Completing a long distance race is no easy task; it takes dedication, resilience, time, and support.
Now post marathon, you may be looking to get back into your "normal" routine. I know I was looking forward to a few extra hours of sleep and not basing my meals around how many grams of protein it had to offer. I was also yearning for my yoga mat again. Whether you participated in this past weekend's race or are just looking to gain some extra flexibility, these five poses are for you. (PS: Philly Marathon and Half runners can bring their bib or medal into the studio anytime this week for a complimentary yoga class!)
Side Facing Wide Legged Forward Fold
Bring your feet wide and tilt your toes inward slightly, giving a slight pigeon toe effect. Place your hands on your hips and with an inhale open your chest upwards, folding forward with a flat spine on your exhale. It is important that you keep a micro-bend in your knees in order to protect the joints. This pose will get into your calves and your hamstrings, providing deep lengthening.
Bridge Pose (Supported)
Lie on your back and place your feet on the floor, hips width distance apart, stacked directly under your knees. On your inhale, press your hips up toward the ceiling. As a runner, you may be experiencing tightness or aching in your low back. Use a block under your lumbar spine to create a release and a relief. Explore what height of the block provides the most support.
Many runners, myself included, experience tightness in both hips. This pose will release the periformis muscle, which starts at the low spine, runs deep into the glut muscles, and connects to the top of the femur bone. Beginning in downward facing dog, bring your right knee toward your right hand, and your right foot towards your left hand, working your right shin bone as parallel to the top of your mat as possible. Due to the tightness of my hips, creating parallel angles is not possible; work to the degree that is comfortable for you. Square your hips off to the ground and walk your arms forward, bringing your chest down to a block or to the floor. If you don't have blocks, you can use a towel, a water bottle, or a pillow. Repeat on the left side.
For many years, I despised Frog Pose until I realized that it was one of the most effective movements and provided the most freedom in my hips. Although the intensity of this pose is high, the release is incredible. Create a padding for your knees by rolling the ends of your mat up (like a scroll). Bring your knees out as far as your body will allow you, press your shins into the ground, place the inside edge of your foot on the earth and flex your toes toward your face. The key to this pose is to form right angles (foot to shin, shin to thigh, thigh to torso). Place a block under your chest.
Seated Forward Bend
Sit on the ground both legs extended out in front of you. Flex your toes toward to face. On your inhale, reach your arms up to ceiling to lengthen your spin. Press your sit bones into the floor and on your exhale fold forward. Keep a slight bend in your knees to protect your joints. This pose will lengthen the back of your legs as well as your spine. You can increase the depth of this pose by bringing a block to your feet.
Brittany Everett is the owner of Grace & Glory Yoga in Fishtown. She completed her 200-Hour in May 2014 and has attended a number of Baptiste Trainings such as Level One, Level Two, and Art of Assisting. GGY Fishtown offers a vigorous physical practice that is adaptable for every body type. This Baptiste-inspired power yoga creates a heat that heals from the inside out.