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Restorative yoga: relax and recover during training

Yoga is a great cross-training activity that can help prevent injury and enhance your running performance. It not only strengthens and lengthens your muscles, but it can also be used to help relax your body and mind after an intense workout.

There are many different styles of yoga with each one providing unique benefits. Restorative yoga is one style that uses props to support the body in different poses. This type of yoga encourages rest and relaxation as the body gently settles into the poses comfortably without strain. Unlike other styles of yoga that move through a series of postures in a dynamic way, restorative yoga is practiced at a slower pace, holding the poses for extended periods of time.

Running can cause physical exhaustion and mental burnout, especially when we are in the middle of an intense training program. Use restorative yoga at least once a week to help heal your mind and body helping you feel refreshed and recharged for your next run.

On your next rest day try the three poses below to help your body and your mind unwind. It’s important to focus your attention on your breath while in these poses. Make sure you adjust the props as needed so that you are comfortable. Try to slowly work up to holding each position for two minutes.


Supported back bend

Begin in a seated position with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Place a pillow or rolled up blanket behind you and gently roll back onto it. The pillow should support your mid back and your shoulders should rest comfortably on the floor. Your arms can rest beside you with the palms facing up. To deepen the pose, bend your elbows and raise your arms into cactus. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees wing out, coming into reclined butterfly. This pose opens your chest and upper back.

Child's pose

Supported child’s pose

Begin in a kneeling position. Keeping your big toes together, spread your knees out as wide as your mat. Place a pillow, rolled up blanket or couch cushion between your thighs. Lie forward on your pillow, turning your head to one side. Close your eyes and begin to settle into a slow and comfortable breath. After one minute, turn your head to the other side to balance the stretch on both sides of your neck. To modify the pose, stack a second pillow. This pose gently opens the hips and lower back, stretches the spine, thighs and ankles.


Legs up the wall

Begin seated with one hip up against the wall. Swing your legs around so that your feet are pointing towards the ceiling and your bum is against the wall. Your spine should be perpendicular to the wall. If your hamstrings are tight move your bum a few inches away from the wall. Extend your arms out to the side in with the palms of your hands facing up. Raising your arms up towards your head in a “V” or “W”   shape will help open your chest and release your back. This pose gently stretches calves, hamstrings and lower back.