This post was originally featured as a guest blog over on my friend Aimee's "Forty by Forty Fitness" blog. Aimee is on a mission to run 40 marathons by the time she turns 40! She has a super cool blog with lots of running tips; check it out here!
Runners Love Yoga presents: Baddha Konasona / Bound Angle Pose
Yoga has overwhelming benefits for runners. However, in general, runners just do more running rather than exploring alternative cross-training options, some of which might be able to ensure their success in their primary sport.
Besides helping runners to move more efficiently and fluidly, yoga can improve core strength, overall strength and flexibility, and prevent many common running injuries. Since I’ve integrated yoga more thoroughly into my workout regimen, I’ve beaten my college PRs in distances from the mile (now 4:54 downhill, 5:16 road) to half marathon (1:22:58) to marathon (3:00:20) in just the past nine months. I’ve significantly dropped by running mileage to the 30-35mile/week range while adding one hour of yoga each day; with this unconventional program, I have been able to train much more consistently and race with much greater frequency than previously.
Here are variations of baddha konasana, otherwise known as bound angle pose. This pose offers a lot of “mileage” or flexibility gains for its apparent simplicity. I offer some variations below that are very rejuvenating and include the use of a yoga block – if you don’t have a block, a more firm pillow or cushion works great too!
1. Begin in seated, and connect soles of your feet. (Bare feet is best here and for all yoga! Socks can be slippery and shoes don’t let your feet stretch!) Concentrate on pressing pinky side edges of your feet together. Clasp your feet with your hands, and inhale yourself tall through your spine. On your first exhale here, keep yourself tall through your spine—just think of pressing your collarbone forward.
2. On your next exhale, let yourself round your upper body forward into the pose. For an especially restorative version, place a yoga block under your forehead. As you become loose, adjust which side of the block you use. Stay here for approximately 10-15 good breaths, or 1-2 minutes. If you get very comfortable here, maybe put your head on the floor! (Do not worry if this doesn’t happen right away! This is about working with your body right now in this moment.)
3. Inhale and round yourself gently back up. Now push your feet farther from you to make a wider diamond shape with your legs. Still keep soles of feet connected. Then, again, inhale tall and exhale, this time walking your hands out to lead you into the pose. Notice how you get an entirely different hip stretch just by moving your legs farther away! Here too you can include a yoga block under your head – be sure to keep your back comfortable by not rounding too much to reach a block with your head. Stay here for 10-15 good breaths, or 1-2 minutes. On an inhale, slowly come back out of the pose.