Updated: Oct 2, 2019
I used to be a runner. I did a lot of 5ks and was working my way up to my first 10K when I got pregnant with my third precious baby - which put things on hold for a while, to say the least! I’ve just recently felt well and rested enough to start running again - and to my awe and delight, I was able to run 3 miles in 35 minutes despite not running at all for about 29 months! I think many runners would agree that it’s not really something you completely lose once you commit to it for years as I had before.
After that run, I really felt a need for a nice, restorative yoga flow that would really stretch out my hamstrings, quads, and hips.
This flow includes an intense side stretch, which is a wonderful way to increase flexibility in those hammys, especially after a long run. More on that here.
This flow also includes a headstand! This pose is tremendous, and since I can’t do one without support (yet), I do it against a wall. This is much easier than you may think, especially if you’ve been building upper body strength with one of my arm yoga flows. Regardless, if you feel up for it, give it a go! You might surprise yourself.
The handstand is an incredible upper body and core strength builder. This pose also provides optimal oxygenated blood flow to the brain, which can benefit you by giving you energy, reducing anxiety and stress, improving sleep, and even improving immunity by releasing toxins in the body! So it’s well worth it. I feel like a million bucks after a good handstand.
Make sure you read all of these instructions before starting, there are important details to come!
Start on hands and knees, head facing a sturdy wall that can support your weight. You're going to bring your elbows to the ground and place the top of your head on the mat upside down while clasping your hands together on the floor behind your head.
I actually didn’t use a mat for this as I often go matless for my routines, and it was fine - not painful at all for me. Then, this is the kind of scary part, just kick your legs up one ahead of the other by pushing off from the floor with the opposite foot to push your lower body up into handstand position! This only sounds scary and can feel a little scary the first few times you do it. Be brave! The wall will catch you. Rest the backs of your heels against the wall for support.
To protect your neck and relieve pressure from the crown of your head, push your weight into your elbows and wrists, thereby really engaging your shoulders and upper back.
If you feel up to it, engage your core and see how you feel pulling one foot at a time forward from the wall for a true headstand. If you feel like you’re going to fall you can always bring your heels back to the wall or toes to the floor.
Side note: I actually did this routine… in jeans! Yes! I didn’t even get changed into yoga clothes for it. If it helps to fit it into my day, why not? It was a little tight, especially in runner’s pose, but hey - I figure it’s better than not doing any yoga today.
As usual with some of my other 10-minute yoga flows, I held each pose for 10 slow breaths.
10 Minute Restorative Yoga Flow for Runners
Intense side stretch (L)
Intense side stretch (R)
Quick one-legged dog (L)
Runners stretch (L)
Seated Pigeon with quadriceps stretch (L)
Quick one-legged dog (R)
Runners stretch (R)
Seated Pigeon with quadriceps stretch (R)
Headstand against a wall
By the way, I know I’ve mentioned before that I often go mat-less for my yoga routines, but I’m looking for a great, new yoga mat that will be non-slick and nice and thin to resemble hardwood floor, with just a little cushion. At home, it’s one thing (because I know when the last time I cleaned my floor was, and who's been walking on it!) but I don’t want to go mat-less for my studio sessions and I don’t love any of the mats I have.
My friend Shannon over at consumersadvocate.org shared this with me several weeks ago, and it has taken me way too long to post it (sorry Shannon!), but he provided a great resource for selecting the optimal yoga mat for your practice. I will definitely be checking this out myself asap. See below -
Choosing your Mat
There are numerous options when deciding on the perfect yoga mat for your needs. Listen to others’ opinions, but decide for yourself which mat is best for you based on yoga style, body type, current health capabilities, ability level, and aesthetics. After all, a well-chosen mat can feel like a perfectly fitted pair of jeans!
As the amount of people practicing yoga in North America has doubled in the past 7 years, please also consider the environmental impact our mats will have on future generations. When researching your mat, take into account if it is biodegradable, non-toxic, or recyclable.
Other elements to consider are thickness, grip, durability, price, and how easy a mat is to clean and dry. While there is no perfect yoga mat for everyone, there are plenty of online resources to help you along the way. Remember to be honest with yourself and your ability level, and don’t hesitate to ask for guidance from your teacher - they have your best interest at heart.
I hope this is helpful and that you enjoy this restorative yoga flow for runners as much as I did.