“Yoga’s not just about stretching yourself out like a sweater,” says Emilie Smith, creator of Yoga for Athletes, which is offered at Equinox and Reebok Sports Club. “Yoga can improve running form, increase range of motion, and help prevent injuries. In the end, you’ll perform more efficiently,” she explains.
Smith knows this first hand. She came to yoga as a runner, and developed her method to help athletic types just like her do yoga in a way that would complement and boost their training.
We asked her to identify the three most common issues that runners face—and how yoga can help. In this three-part series, she’ll take you through a three-move yoga sequence to help address each one.
First up: Learn three easy moves to help tight, aching hamstrings…
—Lisa Elaine Held, Photos: Lisa Elaine Held for Well+Good
This first pose is a warm-up, which is really important before you move into poses you’ll hold for a long time.
Start on your hands and knees with your hands slightly in front of your shoulders and knees in line with your hips.
Plant your palms with your fingers spread, lift your knees, and push your heels towards the floor with your tailbone reaching towards the ceiling. Stay active in the pose for five to ten breaths by pedaling your feet from side to side, alternately lifting each leg back behind you, and moving your hips from side to side.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and place one foot on top of a block. Make sure your feet are parallel. Bend your knees and hinge forward from your hips with a flat back, moving your weight forward out of your heels.
Begin to straighten your legs, being careful not to round your back—use a block for your hands if you can’t reach the floor. Stay here for one minute and then repeat on the opposite side.
Lay on your back with your shoulders down and relaxed, your hips flat on the mat. Extend your left leg out with foot flexed. Bring the right knee into your chest and wrap the strap around the ball of the right foot.
Press your left leg into the mat as you lift the right leg straight up. Pull the strap towards your head to go deeper, but don’t force it. If your hamstrings are super tight, keep a slight bend in the knee and be gentle as you stretch. Stay in this position for three to five minutes and then repeat on the opposite side.
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