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2:25 pm

Yoga Poses for Runners

After a long run or race, your legs, back, and shoulders feel sore, achy, and tight. Practicing yoga can help you regain range of motion, reduce swelling in your legs, and improve circulation to speed your recovery. Erin shared some poses that benefit runners on her blog, she has been practicing at Om Yoga for over a year- "Stretching is so beneficial for runners because it really stretches out those tight muscles and hamstrings experienced after long runs. Stretching can prevent injuries to the muscles especially the hamstrings and IT band.. Try these poses at home!

1) Low Lunge: Opens and strengthens your thighs, hip flexors, and lower back.
  • Step forward with your right foot (toes forward) and drop down to your back knee, untucking your left toes.
  • Slide the left knee back until you feel a stretch. Be sure to align your right knee directly on top of your right foot. Do not let your right knee hang past your right foot (you should feel this in the thigh and groin area).
2) Crescent Lunge: This is a deeper stretch than the low lunge.
  • From low lunge, untuck back toes and lift knee off ground,
  • Press through the ball of the back foot.
  • A slight backbend helps stretch the abs and back and strengthens the core.
3) Intense Leg Stretch: Strengthens and stretches the inner and back thigh (hamstrings). I have really tight hamstrings so this pose really helps- and gosh do I feel it!
  • With feet together, step right foot forward. Right toes should be pointed straight ahead, left toes should be pointed to the left.
  • Square off the hips to the front and fold over the right leg, trying not to collapse the back. Keep the back long and straight.
  • If it helps, then look forward; one day your forehead will touch your shin!
  • Engage the quads.
4) Pigeon Pose: This is another hip opener and stretches the groin and psoas. This helps runners by increasing the ROM. Also, stress, tension and anxiety are naturally stored in the hips, so this pose helps to release those negative feelings.  
  • From a table top position (on your hands and knees), slide the right foot out meeting your left hand (right knee should be at your right hand).
  • Slide your left leg back with untucked toes. Try to keep hips squared.
  • If this feels good and you want more, begin to fold over that right leg. Be sure to keep your right foot aligned with your right knee (if you are using a mat, your shin should be parallel with the top of the mat).
  • For a more advanced stretch, push your body up and bring the left foot to the bend of your left elbow. Bring your right hand and clasp your left hand behind your head. This stretch is an intense quad stretch, so be aware of the quad in this pose!
Each stretch should be done on both sides to balance the body. I hope you try out these poses and let me know how you feel afterwards!

By Erin

5:52 am

Men and Yoga: Obstacles to Hitting the Mat?

Guys often don't give yoga that important first shot. So what's the biggest obstacle to getting a man to take his first class?

What's the biggest obstacle to getting a dude to hit the mat?

  • David Romanelli: The biggest obstacle is a dude feeling incompetent or intimidated by the learning curve. I have that issue with golf. I'm afraid to start golfing because it seems like such a steep, long learning curve. But yoga is different because you can have an epic experience your very first class. I remember one time Bryan Kest said he feels sorry for flexible people...because the tight people get the biggest high, the greatest release.
  • Bryan Kest: Them understanding just how important stretching is and what a great workout yoga can be.
  • Brock Cahill: Dudes' biggest obstacles to getting into practice are the stereotypes. As far as I am concerned, yoga is for everybody. There are so many blockages where people think... Yoga? That's for _____. Bullshit. Yoga is the catalyst toward becoming your most complete self, and living up to your fullest potential. Who doesn't want to do that? Well, I guess the peeps that find an excuse not to practice!
  • David Regelin: I think that most dudes approach yoga as they would a sport. You choose a sport based on your aptitude. Tall guys play basketball, burly guys play football, fast runners play soccer etc. So if you aren't flexible and have poor balance, you might think yoga is not for you because you won't start off with any competitive advantage. But that's exactly why it is for you. You become flexible, balanced and strong as you practice. And you learn to be efficient. You actually learn a method by which you learn to engage/release muscles at will. You also start to gain control of your mind by controlling your breath. Also If you show up to a yoga class as you would a sport, to compete, you're gonna be schooled by a bunch of women who have been doing it for years. You're gonna be the worst player on the field. So you have to be clear about your reasons for showing up. If you woke up one morning and couldn't turn your head in a certain direction, or couldn't straighten your arm all the way, you would be concerned. You would seek help (or suffer, or try to ignore it depending on who you are). The stiffness you take for granted as being part of life is not actually. If you don't use it, you lose it. Yoga is a way to reclaim the range and ease you were designed to have. If your body is an instrument, or a machine, yoga is an excellent way to tune it. I can now do postures that I used to see people doing and wonder why on earth they would want to. It happened gradually. I don't think the average person needs to go as far as I have with it. I sometimes get negative reactions from people when I practice outside -- in the form of gawking and snickering. Especially when i put my leg behind my head or do a deep backwards bend, it looks to some like a freakish contortion routine. When you develop something over many years as I have, you gain "extra"-ordinary abilities, but that takes time. You don't become a monkey overnight.
  • David Swenson: Don't worry what other people think! Get out there and have your own experience. If you then decide it is not for you, then great; but don't let some other person's opinion be the deciding factor of your trying something new.
  • Michael Taylor: What if I'm no good at it? I'll look dumb! I won't be the winner! Well, it's true, you might not be the winner. But riding the perpetual motion machine (sorry, elliptical trainer) and lifting heavy objects repeatedly aren't exactly the coolest things in the world -- they're just familiar. And interestingly enough, if we ease off on winning and looking so accomplished all the time, we may wind up accomplishing even greater things with far less effort. Yoga has a way of strengthening our abilities across our whole lives. It's well worth putting aside a little control and giving yourself a shot.
  • Derek Beres: Men find it challenging to sit in a studio full of women that are way more flexible and stronger than they are, in ways that they never even think of strength. Yoga is very yin -- the strength comes from a certain sense of softness that develops over time. It has nothing to do with large muscles; in fact, a healthy yogi's body has a little bit of love around the midsection. Asanas help the yogi become anatomically correct, not absurdly muscular. The inner strength is more important than any outward signs.
  • Sam Chase: Well, here I can only speak for myself, but I know in the beginning I just felt totally incompetent. Here I was in my first yoga class, being asked to use my body in a way I never had, to breathe in a way I never did, and to focus my mind in a way I wasn't used to. To top it all off, I was supposed to do it while listening to a bunch of sanskrit chanting. That's a pretty high bar for a lot of people--men or women. Everyone around me seemed to know exactly what was going on, and I couldn't tell my utkatasana from a hole in the ground. That first class takes a lot of courage and a lot of humility for anyone, but I walked away feeling so good I thought, "I have to figure out what the heck is going on here."
  • Rusty Wells: A big obstacle is that many guys initially tend to think that yoga won't be challenging enough for them. Pro-athletes have long discovered that yoga provides the platform for endurance, concentration and fortitude.
  • Vinnie Marino: Guys assume yoga will be a waste of their time and not produce results.
  • Noah Mazé: Yoga, at least how it is practiced in contemporary times, is more feminine encoded. It is about listening to your body and heart, moving in the natural cycles of your breath, to the inner experience of fulfillment. Identity, when it is feminine encoded, is self generated and comes from the inside out. An example is that girls become women from the natural cycles of their own biology. For beings overly encoded feminine, it is a natural thing to "listen to your breath, move with your breath, feel your heart," etc. Yoga from the inside-out is more feminine encoded. In this way, there is no goal as an outer object.The masculine code is to go outside to then receive the reflection back as the experience of identity. Men don't make themselves, as women do; we need other men. Competition, war, games with a goal, coaches and mentors, are all ways that we direct energy out to then receive back our self image. In yoga, we pursue and practice poses that have classical forms. This gives us objects to aspire to, to extend out into to receive back the image of oneself. Yoga from the outside-in is more masculine encoded. In this way, there is a goal; the successful attainment/performance of the form. Yoga moves us in both directions; inside-out AND outside-in. We all have masculine and feminine code, and gender is a slight preference of code in one direction. We all need both strategies, and yoga teaches us how to do both skillfully, even the strategy that feels less 'natural'. 

Jason Wachob, a Curator and one of the founders of MindBodyGreen, has a goal to make wellness and yoga accessible. After years of successfully trading equities on Wall Street, and traveling around the country running a national organic cookie company, Jason was told that he required back surgery. He opted for yoga instead of surgery and is now completely healed. Jason is a contributor to The Huffington Post and has been featured in the The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times. He has a BA in History from Columbia University, where he played Varsity Basketball for four years. Jason lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife.