When your run has been easy, or even moderate, you can move right into a quick practice, and, you’ll enjoy the benefit of warm and relatively loose muscles. (After a hard run, focus on recovery with gentle moves like Cat/Cow and Legs Up the Wall.) If you need to slot your routine a little later in the day, include some warm-up poses, like the Arrow Lunge Sequence, before moving into these balance poses, which challenge your strength and flexibility.
Practicing standing balance poses taxes your hips and legs to stabilize you. You’ll build strength in your standing-leg hip and lower leg while receiving a stretch for the raised or back-placed leg. Doing these three poses in sequence on one side before repeating on the other side increases the challenge. Together, these poses will stretch the main muscle groups of your hips, thighs, and lower legs, making them efficient and easy to include before you hit the shower.
As the beta of my Yoga for Athletic Balance class live stream continues, we’ve nailed down the sound with a nice new mic. Classes are archived at YogaVibes. Last week’s class is an especially good one for the late season and the holidays. You’ll need a little wall space or a chair or clear coffee table for the hip and hamstring stretches toward the end.
Doing yoga during a run doesn’t have to mean stopping to strike a pose mid-stride. While the strength, flexibility, and balance you gain from the physical postures are all deployed as you move, you can also use the focus and presence you develop on the mat out on the trail.
Try using the techniques of form, breath, and focus outlined below during an easy run. Once mastered, they will aid you during harder runs and whenever your mind starts to wander. Being able to come back to good form and presence of mind will improve your running immeasurably. These mental skills will allow you to bear down when you need to. You may realize you’ve been using these techniques already without calling them “yoga.”
The second edition of The Runner’s Guide to Yoga is now available! It features updated photographs in addition to the originals, all of which depict real (and some really fast) runners in realistic expressions of poses real athletes can conceivably do and benefit from doing. You can order your paper copy today at Amazon and get an Amazon Kindle copy, too. (I’ll have personalized signed copies available in the next few weeks, in time for holiday gifts.) And I’d love a five-star review there—it makes a huge difference in helping other potential readers find the book so they can find balance and connection through yoga.
Yoga Journal is running excerpts from the book. The first one shows my Parking Lot Yoga routine, the perfect prerun warmup.
Static stretches, like you do holding a yoga pose, are useful for building strength and flexibility, but a dynamic warm-up is best before a run. In a dynamic warm-up routine, you’ll move in and out of poses without lingering in them. The goal is to move through your range of motion, priming the muscles for the work you will soon do. The dynamic warm-up helps get the appropriate muscles firing, with a special focus on the lower legs and hips. While waking up your sense of balance and focus, you’ll activate your glutes and the muscles that support your ankles. That will ensure you begin your run with appropriate muscular engagement, keeping the workload in the right muscles, which can help prevent injury down the line. Plus, all the whole routine is standing, which is perfect if you want to do it right on the gravelly road or mucky trail you’re about to run on and don’t want to put your hands on the ground.
Meet Kelsey Hood, one of the newest certified Sage Yoga for Athletes teachers. Kelsey grew up in Iowa and played soccer at the University of Minnesota, then professionally for five years. She lives in Grimstad, Norway, now, where she is the premier specialist in yoga for athletes.
Kelsey’s experience at every level of sport makes her a particularly sympathetic and empathetic teacher to athletes at every age and level. She’s intimately familiar with the demands of high-level performance and the life of a traveling professional athlete, so she designs and teaches sequences that suite exactly where an athlete is in his or her training cycle. At the same time, she remembers her progression from youth player, which means she’s great with young athletes as well. Her unique experience means she knows exactly what runs through the body and mind of an athlete in yoga class: how it feels to be fatigued in class, and how it feels to find your mind won’t turn off in long-held poses. She holds space in class for athletes to meet their bodies exactly where they are. And she cues clearly and sweetly, with plenty of time for athletes to investigate their own experience. Kelsey is a boon to the field, and I’m glad to have worked with her.
Fun fact: Kelsey, as a transplant to Norway, is the first certified teacher to list curling as a special interest! (Those who’ve taken my five-day intensive know we use curling as a test case.)
Want to follow in Kelsey’s footsteps and spend five days with fun colleagues exploring how to teach yoga to athletes of all sports and levels, and learn a little bit about curling? Join me at one of these three intensives in 2018:
- Yoga for Athletes Five-Day Teachers’ Intensive at Kripalu in western Massachusetts, January 28–February 2, 2018
- Yoga for Athletes Five-Day Teachers’ Intensive at 1440 Multiversity in California, April 22–27, 2018 (enrollment online soon)
- Yoga for Athletes Five-Day Teachers’ Intensive at Carolina Yoga Company in Carrboro, NC, July 9–13, 2018
Join me, my business partner Lies, spa director Dara, and the wonderful staff of the Hillsborough Spa and Day Retreat at our first anniversary party! We’ll be open Sunday, October 29, 2:00–5:00 p.m., with cake and some really wonderful giveaways. If you’re a spa regular, this gives us a chance to say thank you. If you aren’t, it gives us a chance to show you around and make you into a regular! We look forward to seeing you there.
Hillsborough Spa and Day Retreat
1814 Beckett’s Ridge Drive
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Time flies: 2018 will mark my tenth year on the faculty at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Massachusetts. What a lovely place! My trips there always restore me. The students are wonderful, the staff are caring, the food is delicious, and the setting is wonderful any time of year. Best of all: Noon Dance! I’ll be back teaching both Yoga for Athletes and Teaching Yoga to Athletes in January. This trip makes a lovely holiday gift—there are always family members who come together. It’s also a great way to start your 2018 right.
Yoga for Athletes: Strength, Flexibility, and Focus
Friday, January 26–Sunday, January 28
For all levels of athletic or yoga experience; no prior yoga experience required.
Yoga’s emphasis on form, focus, and breath can make you a better athlete. Learn how yoga complements mental and physical training, translating into increased efficiency and enjoyment in your sport and your life.
Teaching Yoga to Athletes
Sunday, January 28–Friday, February 2
For yoga teachers, coaches, PE teachers, and personal trainers.
More and more athletes are crediting yoga with taking their performance to the next level—which means there’s an increasing demand for yoga teachers who specialize in this field. Sage Rountree has multifaceted experience as a coach, athlete, and teacher working with endurance-sports athletes and collegiate teams. She’ll give you the confidence and skills you need to share yoga’s benefits with athletes.
I’ve long found prepping and sending e-mail newsletters for sagerountree.com, Carolina Yoga Company, Hillsborough Spa and Day Retreat, and Carolina Massage Institute to be the roughest part of my workday. I have to drag myself kicking and screaming to the computer, and I hem and haw before finally getting each newsletter sent.
But as we have such wonderful support in the business with our studio manager Jenni, spa director Dara, and program director Sara, I’ve had some free time to assess my weaknesses—and now it’s time to address my weaknesses. I know the newsletters bring in business, as we see workshop signups and spa appointment bookings jump up with every send.
My first step is to do some renovations on the newsletter I send from this site. As part of the teardown, I realized that several hundred people have signed up but are listed as unconfirmed—d’oh! If you asked to receive my newsletter and haven’t been (I sent one this Monday morning, for example), please check your inbox or spam folder. I’ve just resent the confirmation e-mails.
As a thank-you for your patience, and as an incentive for anyone who’d like to (as my teen daughters say) go on this journey with me, I’m offering a code for a free rental of any Core Strength for Real People video when you sign up for my newsletter! You can choose something spicy for your core or something sweet for your hips—there are many offerings there, and whichever strikes your fancy is yours!
Sign up here or from the sidebar at the right. And I’d love to hear your comments on what you’re looking for in an e-mail newsletter, as well as what turns you off.
To celebrate the launch of live streaming of my Monday evening Yoga for Athletic Balance class at YogaVibes, I offered the class free on my Facebook Page this week. You can watch it at your own convenience, though, either here or at facebook.com/sagerountree. I set the camera to roll about three minutes before class, so scrub forward to 3:10 or so. And have a blanket or a big beach towel handy—we start with a blanket hug.
For more, subscribe to YogaVibes, or come see me live any Monday at Carrboro Yoga!
We’re in our eleventh round of 200-hour yoga teacher training at Carolina Yoga Company. (Join us for the twelfth! Or go deeper with our 500-hour advanced studios yoga teacher training!) As usual, we have a lovely crew of earnest students who anticipate a journey of self-discovery and growth that will be difficult at times. But the toughest part of yoga teacher training isn’t learning Sanskrit, resolving your questions about alignment, or gaining comfort leading group classes. It’s sitting on the floor.
And how appropriate this is! The Yoga Sutras tell us very little about poses—only that we should find a seat that is both steady and comfortable. I consider the poses we do in the twenty-first-century West to be preparations for this work of getting cozy in a seated position. Because once we can hold the seat—once we have strength through the core and ease through the hips—we are ready for the more inner practices of yoga that lead us to self-awareness, starting with meditation.
Here’s some of my best advice for sitting:
- Eschew the cross-legged option. Instead, build a kneeling seat. Here’s a piece I wrote for Yoga Journal on how to kneel with greater comfort: “Find Comfort in Sitting.”
- Prop up when you’re cross-legged, too. A bolster or even two under your hips will help a lot.
- Build into it slowly. Adaptation to any stimulus must happen progressively over time. Overdo it, and you’ll find up doing more harm than good.
- Take breaks! We encourage our yoga teacher trainees to shift position, to move to a chair, or to stand in polite attention to the teacher.
And if you’re leading a yoga class, remember that your students may not instantly be comfortable sitting. Start lying down or standing instead—it sets a lovely tone for class. We explore lots of alternatives to the traditional seated start of class in Sequencing Yoga Classes from Welcome to Namaste.