Workshop: Yoga for Runners

This past Saturday I taught a Yoga for Runners workshop over at the Hemenway Gym for Harvard Recreation.  The weather was one of those perfect early autumn days that you only get in New England and seem all the more picturesque for being on a college campus. I was a little worried that no one was going to come and that they’d all go running instead! Luckily, though, I had a wonderful group of runners, cyclists, tennis players and a bunch of other athletes.

We opened the 75 minute workshop talking about the description of the class and if there was anything else that they wanted to learn about, focus on or work on.  There were some questions and concerns about shin splints but mostly they wanted deep hip work, ways to protect the knees and leg strengtheners.

Here’s the class that I taught:

calf stretch with block under the toes, heel on the floor. (Increase intensity by stepping opposite forward and pressing down through heel of foot on block.)
forward fold/rag doll
downward facing dog
dog dog to plank (modification with knees on mat)
child’s pose (talked about the importance breath and making the nurturing choice in today’s practice.  Not the time to push, but to support, breathe and nurture.)
down dog
toe-heel side opener
step up to forward fold
half way lift
intention setting: choosing a word for today’s practice
3 Sun As (modified first A with everyone putting knees down)
3 Sun Bs
utkatasana twist to warm core (kept hands at sternum to work on keeping spine straight and supported by core strength)
forward fold with arm bind overhead
vinyasa to downdog

warrior I (talked about  keeping knees over ankles and engaging inner thighs to track kneecap over dome of the foot – very important for knee health)
warrior II (same knee set up)
reverse warrior (keeping the lunge to protect knee joint)
side angle lunge
extended side angle
triangle (turned back foot in 5 degrees and tracked knee cap over dome of foot)
half moon (made sure toes on standing foot faced forward)
revolved half moon
modified standing leg split with hands to block to work on releasing neck
forward fold

step back to runner’s lunge
hip flexor opener with hands/forearms on mat inside front foot

vinyasa to down dog
runner’s lunge
walk body around to prasaritta A/B (worked towards straight legs by drawing knee cap up into quad to protect the joint)

pivot back to front
three legged dog
high plank with knee to nose
three legged dog
half pigeon (talk about piriformis and breathwork. Let breath do the work for you. Gentle and compassionate to the muscles in the hips, low back and legs)

seated baddha konasana with gentle forward fold
virasana on block
hip/core re-stabilization (ABS!)

supported bridge
viparita karani (inversion with block under low back)
modified fish
closing twist with strap over instep and reaching straight leg out to either side (groin/IT band stretch – juicy one for runners!)

The feedback from the workshop was overwhelmingly positive.  I was so impressing by the quality of breath and focus in this group: not surprising since they’re runners/marathoners!  The highlight for me as a teacher was watching them settle down into half pigeon and as they held the pose and breathed into it, watching their backs and hips soften.  Serenity achieved!



8 responses to “Workshop: Yoga for Runners

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  2. Thanks for sharing this sequence. I’ve recently decided to tackle a half marathon and have been thinking about what that means for my yoga practice.

  3. Wow Jen, that’s awesome! Where/when is your half marathon?

  4. First up is the Madison (WI) 1/2 marathon in May. If that goes well, I’ll do the Quad Cities 1/2 in September. I did the relay for the marathon a few weeks ago and had a great time.

  5. KICK ASANA! That’s great! If you’re interested in further Yoga for Runners stuff, I pulled a lot of great resources from Yoga Journal and supplements with Kaminoff’s YOGA ANATOMY and ANATOMY OF MOVEMENT by Calais-Germaine.

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