Body, Mind, Spirit Magazine

Free Yoga Friday: Yoga Practice for Runners

By Anytimeyoga @anytimeyoga

The Practice: Yoga Practice for Runners with Esther Ekhart

Physical/Instructional Parameters: Esther describes the sequence as one that both stretches and strengthens. While this isn’t inaccurate, my overall experience of the routine was that it was more stretching. Still, there are a number of down dogs along with a short standing sequence. Instructionally, this hit a really nice balance. There was enough instruction that I think someone new to yoga could follow it — though for brand new yogis, it might take a couple of times through — but there wasn’t so much that I found it awkward or intrusive to the flow of the practice.

Props: None mentioned at the beginning of the video. However, there is one segment during a kneeling quad stretch where Esther mentions that some people will want a strap. (I would have liked to know this one in advance, as I often lose my strap on account of only wanting it occasionally.) In another, she mentions having a blanket or such to elevate the hips during seated poses, specifically bound angle. (This one, I was ready for. If I cannot find my blanket, I just steal the dog’s.) Additionally, the sequence includes triangle, a pose for which I know a fair number of folks like to use a block.

Run Time: 25 minutes

This sequence uses a lot of standing and kneeling poses to stretch out various areas of the hips and legs. Because of that, while it’s focused on runners, I think it would also be a good sequence for cyclists or even just after sitting all day (travel, desk job, etc.). Its pace is pretty relaxed, but the emphasis on more active poses means it’s not really quite a “gentle” class.

The practice opens with a warm up that includes child’s pose, down dog, and forward fold. Then there are some lunge and sun salute variations, mostly targeting the hamstrings and hip flexors. After that, there’s a standing sequence that includes warrior two, triangle, and tree pose; all of these get into my low back and outer hips a lot. Next, a low lunge series that focuses on the front of the thigh as well as the outer thigh (IT band; some may feel this more in their outer hips). Finally come seated bound angle and reclined bound angle before the option of transitioning into savasana.

The transition into savasana is really one of the nicest features of this practice. Not to discount the rest of it at all, but I sometimes find — especially in the shorter practices — that savasana and the transition into it are too short and abrupt for me to feel like they’re really benefiting me as much as they could. Here, having reclined bound angle as an intermediate pose does a lot to mitigate that: By the time Esther cues for savasana, I’ve already had some time to physically and mentally prepare for the pose. It could still be a touch longer, of course, but I think that’s just a limitation of the video’s time frame — and Esther does offer the recommendation to stay an extra few minutes in savasana if one can.

Overall, this routine is a nice, balanced way to stretch out various parts of the legs and hips. Personally, I tend to want a little more outer hip and quad stretching (my hamstrings are remarkably forgiving) — but really, one of the only ways for me to figure this out was to try some more balanced leg and hip practices like this one.

PS — While they are not free, Ekhart Yoga does have an entire series on yoga for runners, for anyone who is so inclined. (Nope, not affiliated. Just subscribed for a year and think it’s a good place.)

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