Runner’s Lunge For all you runner’s out there (it’s ok, I won’t tell Carmen!), aches and pains in the hips, thighs and calves are your daily companions. This month, I’m going to give you the cure for what ails ya (unless you’re this woman and then there’s no turning back). Appropriately called Runner’s Lunge, this yoga pose is one of my absolute favorites and it’s one of the most effective ways of stretching out those hips and legs after you’ve put some miles on them. Let’s get started!
1. From Downward Dog, lift your right leg high behind you on your exhale and hold the leg in this position for three breaths, as you drive the left heel toward the floor. Try to keep the weight balanced evenly in both arms.
2. On your next inhale, bend the knee and bring the right foot forward between your hands so that your knee is over your heel (this is important to protect the knee).
3. Lay your torso down on the right thigh, while keeping the spine long and reaching the chest forward (no rounded backs here).
4. Sink into that right knee bend, as you press the left thigh up toward the ceiling and drive the left heel toward the floor. Keep in mind, your heel won’t touch the floor, but you’ll want to keep the leg active to get the full benefit of the stretch.
5. Now that you’re in the general position, it’s time to perfect the pose. To deepen the stretch, imagine that you are reaching your two legs in opposite directions. The right knee drives forward as the left heel drives back. Now choose your gaze. If your neck feels good, look forward. Otherwise, look down toward the floor a foot or so in front of you. Breathe.
6. Having trouble keeping the spine long? Consider using two blocks under your hands to create a little more space in the upper body.
7. Hold the pose for 5-8 breaths.
8. On your next exhale, step the right foot back into Downward Dog.
9. Repeat steps 1-8 with the left leg.
10. Want to kick it up a notch? Add a little core work to the equation. After Step 1, inhale the knee forward to the nose. Exhale it back. Repeat this 5 times before you move on to Step 2. Repeat on both sides.
Happy Trails and Namaste!