Oh Boy! I just ran my first 5 km in forever.
How do I feel, you ask?
Amazing. I'm going back out this morning.
What are my top 5 stretches for a post run release, you wonder?
Here you go:
1. Downward Facing Dog
It stretches out the whole back side of your body. Take it easy. Bend your knees... a lot! Push your heels to the floor, alternating sides. Externally rotate your upper arms and create space for your ears by pulling your shoulder blades away from your neck. Do it.
2. Bent knee lunge... into a runner.s lunge
Why BKL & RL?
BKL helps to stretch the front of the back thigh (hip flexors); as well as the calf muscles on the front leg. Right? Can you feel that?
RL gives the hamstrings on the front leg a stretch... try to keep your quadriceps contracted (pull up on your knee cap). Play with foot placement: pointing the foot stretches the front of the shin / top of the foot; while pulling the toes towards the knee, increases the calf stretch; pushing into the floor with the heel of the front foot and isometrically pulling it towards your hip will enhance the hamstring stretch. How's that?!
3. Wide-legged forward fold (hands clasped, arms over head)
Why prasarita padottanasana?
It's not just a fun thing to say, it's also a great way to stretch... and strengthen your legs! Make sure your feet are parallel to one another. Practice pulling your feet towards each other (isometrically) to strengthen your inner thighs (and core)... practice pushing your feet away from each other (isometrically) to strengthen your outer hips. You can also bend one knee and drag your hips over to that side of your mat (inner thigh stretch) and then bend the other knee.
Hands clasped - arms over the head? Why not? It's an awesome way to stretch the shoulders and the pecks after a run, wherein the front of the body, arms and shoulder are in a contracted position. Open up your heart!
Another fun one to say: eka pada rajakapotasana
I mean, really, who doesn't love pigeon? I'm almost certain that it's our favourite pose, collectively. If you have a bum knee - stop running!!! - or a bum hip, you can do a variety of figure 4 options, lying on your back, standing at a wall, sitting in a chair. Pigeon is a pretty versatile stretch... do it in a way that's safe for your body.
5. Supine twist
I'm all over windshield wiper twists... but I also enjoy a classic supine twist, where one leg is straight and the top knee is bent; one hand on your knee to support the twist and the other arm open to counter act the twist. You can also opt for a cross of the legs; an ankle over a knee; knees stacked... twists just feel good and they help stretch out the hips and low back. What's your favourite twist?
Doesn't matter if you run a little, or a lot... or not at all. Make sure you stretch after you exercise. Yoga makes everything you do better... but remember: everything you do, makes your yoga practice harder! Stay limber!
I miss the gym...
There's no irony in this, at all. I actually miss going to the gym. In all the years that I had free and unlimited access to some of the best gyms in the city, I barely went. At some point in mid November, I bit the bullet and bought a 10 time drop in pass to the City gym nearest me. I ate that 10 pass for dinner!
I had no idea how much I would enjoy the restricted version of working out at a gym: I had to book and commit to a specific time; I could only stay for 60 minutes; there was a limit on how many people could workout at the same time. The gym gave me an excuse to get out of the house once a day... and it made me feel great. I downloaded a bunch of upbeat tunes; bought myself new running shoes; and a set of wireless earbuds... and all sorts of new socks!
After those initial 2 weeks, I upgraded my commitment to an unlimited drop in pass... and went almost every day. I mean, who doesn't have an hour to spare these days?!
Now, don't get me wrong, being at the gym isn't exactly my natural habitat. I made zero eye contact. I turned up, tuned in, got my sweat on and left. It was a perfect compliment to my otherwise yoga-centric life.
And then lockdown. December 12 was my last day at the gym. Then Christmas. And New Years. My Birthday. So many reasons to eat, drink, be merry. I don't feel as good as I did back then, in my gym phase of the pandemic.
So, I've finally brought my new running shoes in from the trunk of my car. I've charged my earbuds. I've joined a community outdoor fitness group. And I've decided to go back to running. Outside. With a new friend who's also struggling with exercise. Wish me luck. We start tomorrow at Fish Creek for an intro trot together. Oh boy!
Beyond yoga, how are you staying active? What motivates you to move? How has you activity regime changed since last March?
We all know there's more to Yoga than the poses. But how much more? And what more? And where do we get it? Do we really need more? Why?