Yoga is the perfect complement to ChiRunning. In a regular yoga practice, you’ll expand the mindfulness of ChiRunning into your recovery and cross-training.
ChiRunning’s foundation in t’ai chi, an ancient physical, mental and energetic practice, makes running not just a sport and a way to keep healthy, but a mind-body practice to gain self-knowledge. In ChiRunning you learn to Body Sense, carefully listening to your body and always moving with the primary precepts of injury prevention and energy efficiency as the foundation of each run.
Yoga, too, is an ancient practice to discover and explore the physicality and energies of body, mind and spirit. Different asanas, or yoga poses, are an opportunity to experience the inner structure of your body and being, and to discover where you feel strength, fluidity and balance, as well as weakness, tension and imbalance. It’s a great way to get to know your capacities and your limits, physically and energetically and gentle expanding those boundaries.
In t’ai chi, ChiRunning and in yoga, the practice is to become aware without responding impulsively. First deepen your awareness by paying close attention, move into acceptance of where you are in the moment and then perhaps make gentle, informed adjustments to get more stability and more flow.
Abrupt changes can be harmful to the body and hurtful to the psyche. Trying to go deeper into an asana before your body is ready can cause damage, just as pushing too hard to run faster can cause injury.
To prep your body for a run we recommend warming up with our Body Looseners which are specifically designed for ChiRunning. After a run, we suggest you do the following yoga poses, preferably right after, but anytime after is beneficial. Yoga is also the perfect cross-training for the days you don’t run.
Yoga helps activate muscles and joints, increases your flexibility, and helps you relax, which is at the heart of ChiRunning: a strong core with everything else loose and responsive. In ChiRunning, as in yoga, relaxation is what allows you to move fluidly, with ease and grace.
Yoga strengthens and tones your body while it also gently stretches tight muscles. Conscious belly breathing is also a practice that both disciplines share. And, of course, both yoga and ChiRunning ask you to be present with your body and all the feelings that arise while practicing. Frustration, pride, joy or emptiness are all human experiences that offer a window into our deeper nature.
These 7 poses offer a short yoga practice that is a great complement to ChiRunning. Not all of these are beginner poses, so take your time and find alternatives if it is too much for your body.
1. Forward Fold with Crossed Legs
a) Stand tall in Mountain Pose or good ChiRunning posture.
b) Upon inhale, cross right foot over the left foot.
c) Stretch spine upwards before exhaling and folding at the waist.
d) Reach for the ground and let head fall and relax. If too strenuous, use blocks or chair.
e) Hold for up to one minute and repeat on the opposite foot.
- Calms the brain and helps relieve stress
- Stimulates the liver and kidneys
- Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips
- Strengthens the thighs and knees
- Improves digestion
2. Eagle Pose
a) Begin in Mountain Pose, with your arms at your sides.
b) Bend in your knees while shifting your weight and rooting through your left heel.
c) Cross your arms left over right to make an “X” while crossing your right leg over your left (elbows touching and knees touching).
d) Tuck your right foot behind your left knee while wrapping your arms together so that your palms meet. If this is too strenuous, keep your right foot crossed over touching the ground and rest the back of your hands together.
e) Gently lift from the crown of your head and sink down slightly farther.
f) Hold for up to one minute and repeat with opposite leg and arm.
- Stretches shoulders and upper back
- Strengthens thighs, hips, ankles, and calves
- Builds balance, calm focus, and concentration
3. Triangle Pose
a) Begin in Mountain Pose or ChiRunning Posture with feet hip-distance apart standing at the top of your mat.
b) Step your right foot back so your feet are about 4-5 feet apart ensuring your heels are aligned. Your hips should be square with the side of the mat.
c) Turn your right foot perpendicular to the mat so it’s at a 45º angle. Ensure your left foot is aligned parallel with the mat– pointing forward to the top of your mat.
d) Raise your arms to the side to shoulder-height, so they’re parallel to the floor. With your palms facing down, reach actively from fingertip to fingertip.
e) Shift your right hip back as you windmill your arms so that your left arm is resting on your outer shin, ankle, or the ground while your right arm is reaching up to the sky. Be sure to keep your hips square with the side of the mat.
f) Allow your head to look towards your right (top) arm.
g) Hold for up to one minute. Repeat on the opposite side.
- Stretches hamstrings, groin, and hips
- Strengthens thighs, hips, and back
- Tones knees and ankles
- Improves balance and focus mentally and physically
4. Runner’s Lunge
a) Come to the floor on your hands and knees in Table Pose: Bring your knees hip width apart, with your feet directly behind the knees and your palms directly under the shoulders with the fingers facing forward.
b) Step your right foot forward and place your foot flat on the ground so the heel of your foot is aligned with the heel of your hand.
c) Lift your back knee off the ground and reach your heel to then end of your mat.
d) Hold for up to a minute and switch sides.
- Stretches the legs, groin, and hip flexors
- Strengthens and tones the thighs, hips, and butt
- Helps to develop flexible stability
- Increases energy and reduces fatigue
5. Pigeon Pose
a) Start in Table Pose: On your hands and knees, bring your knees hip width apart, with your feet directly behind the knees and your palms directly under the shoulders with the fingers facing forward.
b) Bring your right knee forward towards your right wrist. Your right ankle should fall somewhere near your left hip.
c) Stretch your back leg out and point your toes so that your heel is pointing up at the ceiling.
d) Bring your forearms down to lay flat on the ground with your fingertips pointing forward. Stay for 5 breaths.
e) Walk your hands forward and lower your upper body towards the floor until your resting your forehead on the mat. If this is too strenuous, remain with your forearms propping you up.
f) Hold for up to a minute and repeat on the other leg.
- Opens the hip joint and increase hip flexibility
- Lengthens the hip flexor
- Stretches the thighs, glutes, and piriformis
- Improves posture and alignment
6. Bow Pose
a) Lay face down on your mat.
b) Exhale and bring heels towards your buttocks allowing your knees to separate.
c) Reach back with both arms and hold your right ankle with your right hand and your left ankle with the left hand. If this is too strenuous, use a yoga strap.
d) Lift your torso and legs, drawing the legs away from your head towards the ceiling.
e) Hold for up to 30 seconds while breathing. Release.
- Stretches your ankles, thighs, groin, abdomen, chest, and hip flexors (psoas)
- Strengthens the back muscles
- Improves posture
- Energizes and focuses
7. Staff Pose (against wall/chair)
a) Lie on your left side with your knees bent and your buttocks and feet touching the wall or the legs of a chair.
b) Roll on to your back while keeping your knees bent. Place the bottom of your feet flat on the wall or back of the chair.
c) Stretch your legs up the wall until your legs are completely straight. If you have issues keeping your legs straight, slide your buttocks away from the wall until your legs can straighten completely.
d) Let your arms rest flat on the floor. Allow your gaze to look up at the ceiling with your head and neck aligned with your spine.
e) Hold for up to 1 minute. Release.
- Post-running: Great way to drain the legs
- Stretches your legs
- Elongates and stretches front and back of your body
- Restful and good for recovery