Friday, 5 May 2017

Yoga For Runners Mini Workshop 2

Hello!  Welcome to Yoga For Runners Mini Workshop 2!

As with part 1, poses in this sequence focus on building stability and core strength,  opening the chest and shoulders to expand the breath, and, of course, stretching the major muscles involved in running.

These workshops were designed with beginners in mind.  Each sequence is short and includes simple flows that should be relatively easy to remember.  Todays sequence, you will find, is very similar to last weeks program but instead of being based around table top position it is based around downward dog.  In this way, you can build your practice.

As with last week, I encourage you to explore each pose and spend some time getting to know your body and your breath.

This sequence can be practiced on its own or, if you have more time, in conjunction with the first program - starting in table top and moving through the cat/cow/low lung sequence and then lifting into downward dog and moving through today's postures.

Ok, let's begin.

We start in Easy Pose or any comfortable seated position.  Close the eyes and focus on the breath, inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

On an exhale gently let your chin drop towards the chest.  Inhale and take you head to one side.  On the exhale your chin drops towards the chest and on the inhale take the head to the other side.  It's like drawing the letter U with your nose.  Keep the movement slow and gentle as you begin to connect to the breath.

After a few rounds of this bring the head back to center and take your arms out wide, expanding the chest and reaching all the way through the fingers.  Hold here for a few breaths.

Take your hands behind your back, interlacing your fingers, and drawing the palms together.  Begin to straighten your arms to expand the chest and deepen the stretch.  Hold for a few breaths.

Bring the arms in front, drawing the shoulders forward to stretch the shoulders and upper back.  Let the head drop forward to take the stretch deeper into the neck.  Hold here for a few breaths.

Slowly begin to walk the hands forward coming into a forward fold.  You want this to be a nice, slow, juicy stretch so prop yourself up with a pillow or bolster if it's more comfortable.  Remember, we are just getting started - the focus should be on connecting to the breath and becoming centered.

When you're ready, come back to a seated position and change the fold of your legs (ie, if you were sitting with your right leg on top, change so your left leg is on top.  We always want to make sure our practice is balanced.)

Move through a series of seated Cat/Cow, inhaling as you open the chest forward, and exhaling as you roll the shoulders forward and let your chin drop towards your chest.

After 5-6 repetitions come back to center.  Inhale as you lengthen the spine, and on the exhale make a gentle twist.  Hold the twist for a few breaths, lengthening the spine on each inhale and deepening the twist on the exhale.

Exhale and return to center.  Then repeat on the other side.

Come into extended Child's Pose to prepare for Downward Facing Dog.

As you lift the hips up keep some movement in your legs, warming up the muscles and exploring the pose.  I like to call this walking the dog.

Come into the full expression of Downward Dog and hold here for a few breaths.

On an inhale lift into 3 legged dog. On the exhale come into Knee to Nose Pose.

Repeat this series of movements 3 or 4 times on the same leg - inhale and lift, exhale and tuck.

Then, after a few repetitions, inhale and lift but this time, on the exhale, step the foot forward between the hands to come into High Lunge.

You can keep both hands on the mat in this lunge, bring your hands to your knees, or reach your arms above your head, stretching through the pinkie fingers.  Hold here for a few breaths.

Bring your hands back to the mat. Keeping the opposite hand to the front leg on the mat begin to twist your chest towards your knee, lifting the other hand towards the sky.  Hold here for a few breaths then return your hands to the mat.

Slowly start to straighten the front leg by lifting your hips up and back.  Hold here for a few breaths then bend the knee to return to High Lunge and step back into Downward Dog.

From here we shift our weight forward to come into Plank Pose.  Hold for a few breaths, working your way up to a minute or more.

Place your knees on the mat and slowly lower the chest to come into Four Limbed Staff Pose.

Bring the belly onto the mat and on an inhale lift the chest in Baby Cobra. Hold here for a few breaths.

Exhale and relax onto the mat.  On an inhale take the arms back and lift the arms, legs and chest in Locust Pose.  Hold here for a few breaths.

On an exhale, release your body back to the mat.  Bring your hands forward and lift your hips back towards your heels in Extended Child's Pose.  Lift into Downward Dog and repeat the sequence on the other side.

If you have more time, you might like to do this sequence a few times on each side. 

On the last Downward Dog walk the feet towards the hands and come to stand in Mountain Pose.  Hold here for a few breaths.

Come to sit on the mat with your legs extended in front of you in a Seated Forward Bend.  Keep in mind that the aim here is to keep the back long, not touch your toes.  Sit high on your sit bones and fold forward from the hips taking your hands to your thighs, shins or feet.  Hold for a few breaths.

Bend one knee tucking the heel close to your bottom.  Reach forward, melting the chest towards the knee of the extended leg.

From here we start to twist away from the bent knee coming into Bound Forward Bend.

Release the back to Seated Forward Bend and repeat on the other side. 

Release and bring the soles of the feet together in Bound Angle Pose.  Let the knees drop to the sides, lengthen the spine, and become aware of the breath again, inhaling and exhaling through the nose.

Slowly come back on your elbows and then all the way down to your mat in Reclining Bound Angle Pose.  Place your hands on your belly and focus on the breath.  Stay here for a few breaths.

Release the arms to the sides.  I like to stay here for my Savasana but you should do what feels good for you!

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