One of my favorite parts of a yoga class is that moment when the standing poses are over and the teacher brings you to the mat to begin cooling down. That sense of accomplishment mixed with relaxation can rarely be mimicked, except for your cool down after a long, hard run.
I love to bask in those few prolonged minutes at the end of my workout, after I’ve exerted myself, to stretch out my muscles, take a few deep breaths and give my body a little post-run love. Here are a few of my favorite cool down poses.
- Come to your seat and roll evenly onto both sit bones.
- Bring the soles of the feet together with your knees bent and splaying out.
- Find a long spine, lengthening through the crown of the head, and with a flat back begin to lean forward over your feet to any degree on an exhale.
- Allow the groins to slowly release as the knees begin to draw closer to the ground.
- Stay for a full minute before coming up with a flat back on an inhale.
This is one of those poses that feels amazing the longer you stay in it.
- Come to a seated position.
- Bring your left shin parallel to the front of your mat.
- Cross your right foot outside your left thigh. If your hips are tighter your foot may be further up the thigh, as your hips open you can slide your foot closer to your left knee.
- Stack your right shin on top of your left like two logs.
- Flex through both feet to protect the knees and make sure you’re resting evenly on both sit bones. It’s perfectly okay if your right knee is lifted, as your hips release your knee will slowly fall.
- You can stay here, or take a big inhale and with a flat back fold over your legs to any degree. I always tell my students this may be an almost imperceptible fold forward, which is perfect okay.
- Stay for 30 seconds to a minute.
- Release your legs, shake them out, and then move to the second side, left leg on top of your right.
- Come to your back.
- Draw both knees in toward the chest and wrap your arms around your shins.
- Roll side to side to release the back.
- Bring your hands to a T on the mat.
- Shift your hips slightly to the right and drop your knees to the left on an exhale. If it’s okay for your neck look over your right shoulder.
- Take 10-15 breaths here.
- Once complete, inhale your legs back to center.
- Shift your hips to the left and drop your knees to the right, looking over your left shoulder.
- Take 10-15 breaths on this side.
- Inhale your legs to center when you’re done, give yourself a big squeeze and rock yourself to a seated position.
These three poses will help to cool your body and soothe your muscles after a run. Plus, these stretches offer a great opportunity to spend some time outside enjoying the warming weather and sunshine while treating your body to a little extra TLC.
Written by Lisa Horvath.
Related: Check out the WalkJogRun guide to Yoga for Runners