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I only run when chased.

April 13, 2010

I’m sure that the fact that I’ve been running recently will shock and inspire awe in those who have known me well. It’s true that I have recently embarked on a 30-day challenge that has nothing to do with yoga, but with my worst enemy: running.  Obviously, I will not put yoga on the back burner but I fully intend to use it to make this whole experiment less unpleasant.

In the past, I’ve said, “I will only run if something is chasing me/trying to kill me/has put food in front of me.” Recently, however, I was inspired by my Ayurvedic studies to try adding a bit of cardio to my routine. Cardio = boring and miserable usually and it took me a while to get into the swing of things. Being a goal oriented person I had to put my participation in the sport of running into “30-day challenge” format. I am on day seven.

Running in my life has in general introduced much pain and suffering. First the knees go, then the shins…and then feet, shoulders etc. The constant pounding of pavement therefore never seemed too enticing.

As I’ve already said though, I’m ass-deep in a 30 day challenge and so I’ve been trying to find ways to cope with the grab bag of horrors that accompanies my daily run. Guess what is my number one coping mechanism? Yes, good guess. SPOT ON.

Before I do  my run, I like to stretch out the ligaments of my knees, and bones and muscles of my feet with an extensive stop in virasana (hero’s pose). I also like to revisit this at the end. Because I have so many knee and shin problems it seems like a good idea, and furthermore, it seems to have helped.

I started experimenting with other poses, based on the successes I found from the virasana…and then I did a little bit of research.

These poses I find to be the most helpful in my battle against running:

1) Agnistambhasana (ankle to knee pose)- I don’t want to lose flexibility in my hips and cause my yoga practice to suffer from all this stupid running. This pose helps to open the outsides of my hips.

2) Janu Sirsasana (head to  knee pose)- This is a good stretch for the hamstrings, and lower back.

3) Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose)- A wonderful complement to the ankle to knee pose, as it opens the hips and inner thighs. It also provides a bit of a stretch to the middle back which helps with some of the spinal compression from running.

4) Virasana (hero’s pose)- I really like this one, and the more intensified version, supta virasana. This is my go to for taking care of the knee and shin nastiness.

5) Padangusthasana (bound forward bending)- Has very similar effects to a janu sirsanana but it adds the element of gravity which can help decompress the spinal column. Always feels nice.

6) Malasana (garland pose, squat)- Similar to the bound angle pose this will stretch the  hips and inner thighs, but it will also get those  hard to reach places like the Achilles’ tendon and heel.

7) Adho Mukha Savasana (downward-facing dog)- This is a great stretch for the upper back which can become tight from the small twists that are done during a run. It is also priceless for stretching out your calves.

8) Anjenyasana (low lunge)- The further you lean forward into this asana, the more you will stretch out your hip flexors. I like to pop one of these in after a run to assure I don’t lose ground that I’ve been fighting for with my hips in  my yoga practice for the last two years.

9) Prasarita Padottansana (wide legged forward bending)- I like this one for hamstrings and decompression. This is also totally something that pretty much every athlete already knows and loves.

10) Ananda Balasana (happy baby)- This can be another hip opener, but what I really like it for is the stretch and massage it gives to the lower back. It pretty much rocks no matter what you’re engaged in or recovering from.

11) Eka Pada Rajakapotanasana (one legged king pidgeon)- This bad boy is quite the package deal. It will stretch out your outer hip, buttocks and your hip flexor all at once. It is also relaxing if you hang out over your front knees for a few breaths.

12)Utanasana (standing forward bend)- This is a low output version of padanguthasana. Feels good.

13) Balasana (child’s pose)- When does this not feel amazing?

14) Marjaryasana /Bitilasana (cat/cow)- Perhaps I run funny, but I really like to put movement back in my spine after a run and get the fluids flowing all throughout the body.

15) Ardha Matsyendrasana (seated twist)-  A lovely stretch for the whole back, outer thigh and buttocks.

While as always, I consulted Yoga Journal for the pose guide, these poses are sort of my own elections for balancing the runner’s body. Hell, this post took me forever because I had to do the poses while writing about them to make sure I was describing the proper effects. Oh yeah, I’m that thorough.

Tomorrow is day 8. I’d like to give yoga a big round of applause for keeping me safe and healthy. My knees are only dully in pain, instead of searing and my shins are almost completely normal again.

[Image via: Guardian UK]

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. mom permalink
    April 13, 2010 8:21 pm

    Well Done!

  2. Barefoot J permalink
    April 29, 2010 11:22 pm

    http://www.barefootted.com

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