For this month’s Yoga for Everyone partnership with Monica, the talented yoga instructor and blogger behind The Yogi Movement, we get to focus on legs! As a runner, I do my best to ensure yoga is a regular part of my training. This yoga sequence is a great one to do at home as you can do the longer, entire sequence or even just one or two of the poses. I’ll turn it over to Monica for today’s guest post! See you all tomorrow for Friday Favorites!
When Ashley asked me to write a post about yoga for tired legs, I was excited. Although I’m not a runner, this is something with which I am very familiar. Even though I consider my legs to be strong, they tend to run out of energy pretty quickly. I’ve recently implemented postures in my practice to stretch, strengthen, and overcome the weakness.
The first thing I want to talk about is Sun Salutations. This sequence is the best for waking up the legs. In the image, you would move from left to right on each section. Each posture is a slow and steady breath, and your goal is to match the length of the breath with the movement. Pay attention if your rushing the movement, and then slow it down. Never speed up the breath.
This full sequence strengthens the quadriceps and gives the back of the legs an awesome stretch. When you’re in downward dog, make sure you are lifting your hips, and pushing your heels back and down. This will give an amazing stretch to the back of the legs.
When you move into Warrior One (the lunges), don’t be shy about bending the knee. You don’t wan to over extend it, but most people don’t bend it enough. Take time to check it, so that you get a nice, deep hip opening.
Do about five Sun Salutations, and then move onto the standing forward bend.
This posture is my favorite for overcoming tired legs. If I ever miss a day or two of practice – my legs feel like they’re crying tears of joy! In this image, I’m bringing my stomach all the way to my legs, but if you can’t pull yourself in that much, no worries. Just try to deepen it with every exhale, and bend your knees if you need to. Also, don’t look up and smile! Instead pull the crown of the head towards the ground, and look towards the knees.
The next posture we’re going to move into is Navasana or boat posture. I know this posture looks like you’re using the core, but it does take strength in the legs to make this posture happen. Come into boat, and try your best to not touch your legs, and keep the legs straight. Hold for five deep breaths. When you’re finished, cross the legs and take a breath, but come right back into it. Repeat this five times.
We’re going to close with Kapotasana, which is a backbend that comes from the strength in your legs. You’re going to start seated, but bend both of your knees back, and let your feet rest right by your hips. You want to push the top of your foot into the ground so that the heel is facing the sky. It might seem awkward, but just do your best. If you feel any pressure on your knees, then move them further apart from each other until it goes away.
The next step is to walk yourself back until you’re lying on the ground. This is going to lengthen and stretch your quadriceps. In the image, I’m grabbing my feet, but feel free to lay your hands wherever is comfortable. Stay here for five or more breaths, and move onto the next stage.
Bring your hands my your ears and just lift your head to the ground and look behind you. Don’t let your elbows fall out to the side. This can be pretty intense, but just try. Hold for five breaths.
The very last stage is to push your head off the ground. Go ahead and give it a try, but if you can’t lift off, no problem. Just do your best, and take five breaths.
Once you are done, sit up, and extend the legs out in front of you. Take a forward bend posture for ten breaths to slow the mind and release any pressure in the spine and legs. You’re Done!
I hope you enjoyed this runners’ sequence, and can’t wait until next time!
Check out the other Yoga For Everyone guest posts in this series: