With marathon season in full swing here are some great yoga postures to help with flexibility, strength and recovery.
Downward Facing Dog - Ardha Mukha Svanasana
Benefits: Stretches hamstrings, calves and Achilles.
1) Begin on all fours stacking the shoulders over the wrists and the hips over the knees. Spread the fingers and line the middle finger with the top edge of the mat as you press into the palms.
2) Tuck the toes under as you lift the knees off the floor. Start to straighten your legs and take the tailbone up and back so that you come into an inverted V shape.
3)Breathe deeply for 5-10 breathes.
4)Work at pressing the hands into the floor, lengthening the legs and drawing the heels towards the floor.
5)It’s quite nice to lengthen one leg whilst bending the other to walk the legs out.
6)Release any tension in the shoulders.
Low Lunge - Anjanayasana
Benefits: Stretches hip flexors and strengthens hamstrings and quads
1) From Downward Facing Dog step the right foot between the hands bending the knee. Drop the left knee to rest on the floor. Untuck the back toes.
2) Stack the front knee over the ankle in line with the middle toe.
Sweep the arms up over the head taking the arms by the ears. Look to the hands.
3) Sit deeper in the front knee by dropping the tail bone towards the floor while lifting the chest.
4) Hold for 5-10 deep breathes.
5) Repeat on other side
King Pidgeon Eka Pada Rajakapotasana
Benefits: Stretches Abdomen, Groin, Thigh, Shoulder, Psoas major muscle, Chest, Neck
1) From Downward Facing Dog step squeeze the right knee toward the nose coming forwards to stack the shoulders over the wrists.
2) Place the right knee behind the right wrist rotating the thigh outwards and placing the side of the shin foot and ankle onto the floor. Flex the foot and if you can, line the shin so it is parallel to the front of the mat.
3) Slowly slide your left leg back, straightening the knee and descend the front of the thigh to the floor. Lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Position the right heel just in front of the left hip.
4) Place the fingertip in front of the front foot and knee.
Lift the chest and take an inhale.
5) Option to stay here or option to exhale and walk the hands forwards either coming onto forearms or extend the arms in front placing the forehead to floor as you would for childs pose.
Reclining Hero Pose - Supta Virasana
Benefits: Stretches quads and abs.
1) Kneel on your mat with your knees together. Separate your feet so you can sit down on the ground or on a block or rolled up towel between them.
2) From here, shift your weight back, and bring one hand behind you and then the other.
3) Stay here and sit, or come to lie all the way down, flat on your back. To feel a deeper stretch in your quads draw the knees as close together as possible if the stretch in the quads is too strong take the knees wider, Bring your hands to rest on the soles of your feet or ankles.
4) Hold for 5-10 deep breathes.
5) When you're ready to come out, lean into your elbows and press yourself back up to a seated position.
Hand to big toe stretch - Supta Padangustasana
Benefits: stretches hamstrings
1) Lie on your back with both legs extended or if your hamstrings are tight then place the feet on the floor with knees bent.
2) Bend your right knee into the chest and either take hold of the big toe with the first two fingers and thumb or loop a yoga strap (or belt/pair of tights/dog leash) around the arch of the right foot and if you’re using a strap hold both ends in you right hand.
3) Start to straighten the right legs pressing out through the heel of the foot.
4) Hold for 5-10 breaths and as the hamstring starts to loosen pull the leg further back. Avoid straining.
5) Repeat with other leg
Reclining Cow Face - Supta Gomukhasana
Benefits: Improves range of motion in hips, loosens tight glutes and hamstrings
1) Lie on your back and cross your knees sending the feet out to the sides.
2) Hold onto the feet.
3) Pull your heels in toward your body then out to the sides and slightly up.
4) Hold for 10 breaths and then swap the leg position and repeat.
Reclining spinal twist - Supta Matsyendrasana
Benefits: Relaxes the lower back and stretches the glutes.
1) Lie flat on the back and hug the knees in to the chest.
2) Cross the right leg over the left, take the arms out to the side and placing the finger tips in line with the shoulders.
3) Take an inhale here and on an exhale lower the knees to the left and turn head to the right gazing down the arm.
4) Relax into the posture for 10 breaths and repeat on other side.