Restorative yoga is a great complement to running. It allows the body time to relax, reset, and heal. With all the stressors training and life can put on the body, restorative yoga can provide a few moments of stillness in your otherwise crazy life. Although many restorative yoga classes use a lot of props, such as bolsters, blocks and straps, you can do these poses with items already found in your home.
It’s best to find a quiet place to practice. Restorative yoga poses are great anytime, but they are especially powerful when you can dedicate some quiet time to them. If possible, try to hold each of these poses for 5 minutes or more.
Supta Baddah Konasana (reclining bound angle pose)
This is a great pose to start with and incredibly beneficial for runners. Benefits include stretching of the inner groins and thighs, improving circulation, stimulating the heart and abdominal muscles, and it’s a great stress reliever.
- Come to lie on your back. Have two pillows or folded up blankets handy.
- Bring the soles of your feet to touch, allowing the knees to relax out to either side.
- Slide your feet in toward your groins only as far as is comfortable. If your knees are high off the ground prop them up with the pillows or folded blankets so you’re not straining to keep your knees lifted. This pose should feel comfortable, not forced.
- Rest your hands by your side or place both hands on the belly. I personally like to place my hands on my stomach so I can connect with my breath and further relax into the pose.
- Stay here for 5 minutes. Feel free to play some soothing music if it helps.
- To come out of the pose, draw your knees together and roll over to one side then sit up.
Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose)
If you’re a runner and only try one of these poses, try this one. It is great for soothing tired leg muscles and feet. It also gently stretches the low back, the hamstrings and calf muscles. In addition it can help to relieve swelling in the legs and calm the mind. This is one of my absolute favorite poses and perfect after a hard run or yoga class.
- Come to lie on your back near a blank wall.
- With your knees bent, scoot your butt as close to the wall as possible then swing your feet skyward along the wall. If you feel tension in your low back, lift your hips and place a folded blanket or pillow under you. You can flex your toes back toward your face, point your toes toward the ceiling, or find a comfortable space in between.
- Hands can rest alongside the body, overhead or bend the arms to 90 degrees into cactus arms, as pictured.
- Stay in the pose for at least 5 minutes.
- To release the posture, draw your knees to your chest, roll to one side, then sit up.
Savasana (corpse pose)
Savasana is the last pose done in any yoga class. Benefits include relaxing the body and mind, relieving stress, and lessening fatigue. Although to some this may seem like a pose to nap in, try to keep the mind alert by focusing on the breath and listening to the cues of the body.
- Lie on your back, it helps to find a quiet, semi-dark space to practice this pose. If you have something to cover your eyes, even better.
- Allow the legs to extend along the floor and let the feet fall outward. If you have any discomfort in your legs, place a folded blanket under each knee.
- Arms can be placed alongside the body palms facing up. I like to tell my students to take up as much space as possible, no need to feel confined to your mat.
- Stay in this pose for at least 5 minutes.
- To come out, begin by wiggling your fingers and your toes, then draw one knee, then the other into the chest. Roll over to your right side and pause for a few moments before coming to your seat.
For any of these postures, I find it helpful to set a timer on your phone or watch if you tend to worry about how long you’ve been in a pose. That way you can really enjoy the benefits of each poses without worrying about the passing time.
Written by Lisa Horvath.