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Over time, I’ve noticed an array of benefits from including running in my fitness routine. It improves my endurance to teach and enjoy cardio classes. It’s a great chance to zone out and enjoy some “me time.” And it’s a great opportunity to feel like part of a community, whether it’s through a long run of friends or completing a race. With all of the great things about running, there are only a couple of downsides. One of the major ones for me: it makes my hips tiiiiiiight.
I’ve been known to spontaneously drop into hip stretches throughout the day (normal), because extreme hip tightness can hinder movement patterns, and it’s also uncomfortable. Taking a few moments to breathe and stretch is a great way to release tension. It can also bring awareness and focus to the rest of the day.
I’m currently in the process of completing my 200-hour yoga teacher training, so I thought I’d share some of my favorite poses for tight hips. This includes the muscles in your hamstrings, piriformis and glutes.
Pigeon (Eka pada rajakapotasana): Come into downward-facing dog and extend one leg into the air, keeping hips and shoulders level. Bring that foot forward, bending at the knee, and gently place your front knee behind that same wrist. Point your toe and carefully lower your hips down towards the mat. It doesn’t matter how low you go, or if your hips touch the mat. If you find your lowest point and need extra support, place a block or rolled-up towel under your hips for stability. Make sure to keep both hips pointing down. From here you can keep your torso upright, or slowly lower it down to the mat.
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Crescent lunge (Anjaneyasana): Start in downward-facing dog, then lift one leg to place that foot next to your front hand. Bring your torso up, keeping that front knee bent (thigh parallel to the floor and knee stacked over that front ankle). Extend out through your fingertips, lift your chest and drop your shoulders.
Dancer pose (Natarajasana): Start in a standing position (tadasana). Bend one knee, and reach back to hold onto the side of the foot—almost like you’re doing a quad stretch. Lift the opposite arm up overhead, and start to slowly tilt forward, kicking your foot up into your hand. Keep your gaze forward and arm reaching out. You have the option to keep your hips level, or slightly open the top hip to come into a more full extension.
Wild thing (Camatkarasana): This one is also a fantastic heart opener to stretch the muscles in your chest, which can become shortened from sitting and slouching. For this one, start in downward-facing dog, and extend one leg up towards the ceiling. Start to open your hip, bend the knee, and continue to rotate until you can place your foot on the floor. One arm will be extended towards the front, while you lift up your hips. Option to come into full wheel if you’d like.
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Happy baby (Ananda balasana): Lay on your back and hug your knees into your chest. Grab in the inside of each foot, bend your knees and bring them out to the side slightly, flexing the feet. You can lightly sway side to side if that feels good. Hold for 5-10 breaths.
I’ll complete these poses on each side, holding and breathing into my hips to release. In between each pose, I’ll do 5 sun salutations.
Anyone else use yoga to complement their running routine? What muscles tend to feel the most tight/stiff from your fitness activities?