Canada Practice Notes

I had a fantastic time visiting western Canada to present clinics on yoga for runners at Mountain Equipment Co-Op stores—and here’s my postview with practice notes. I met some wonderful athletes, ate a lot of Neapolitan pizza, and watched more episodes of House of Cards than I might like to admit. I’m extremely grateful to prAna for this opportunity really to serve as an ambassador, and I was honored to bring the message of how yoga can help runners and everyone to the sweet folks who came to my classes.

The Peace Bridge in Calgary

The Peace Bridge in Calgary

As a teacher, I find the postview a much better way to share than preparing a handout and trying to follow it, as it lets me teach to exactly who’s there, and we get through what seems most appropriate in the moment. Due to group needs, time, and space contingencies, not every clinic covered each of these.

Yoga to Do Before Your Run
Six Moves of the Spine, Standing
  • Mountain pose
  • Inhale arms up, side stretch. Lean the top shoulder forward and back if you like. Breathe into the ribcage.
  • Standing cat/cow. Hands to bent knees, inhale to lift tailbone, open chest, and look up. Exhale and round, dropping chin to chest.
  • Twists. From mountain, inhale arms up, exhale to twist to side. Repeat back and forth. Notice the difference between doing this from your ankles versus holding the pelvis steady and twisting from the waistline up.
Parking Lot Yoga, aka Arrow Lunge Flow as in The Runner’s Guide to Yoga, p. 166 (now in e-format: http://www.amazon.com/Runners-Guide-Yoga-Athletes-ebook/dp/B00BWGX0CG/).
This routine builds balance and focus, fosters communication between the hip and foot (which helps protect the knee), and gives you a dynamic warm-up for your run. Do 5 rounds on each side, alternating.
  • Mountain pose
  • Inhale, lift left leg
  • Exhale, step left foot back to arrow lunge (diagonal)
  • Inhale, lift shoulders over hips to crescent lunge (perpendicular)
  • Exhale, side stretch to right (side stretch goes to the side of the leg that’s in front)
  • Inhale, crescent
  • Exhale, arrow
  • Inhale, drive through, lifting left leg and stabilizing
  • Exhale, mountain pose.

In addition, with the 5:00 group in Edmonton, we enjoyed Parking Lot Mini (Runner’s World covered it here: http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/body-shop-turn-your-heat) and Parking Lot Baby Mini (just tipping into and out of Warrior III, like a drinking bird; see p. 168 of The Runner’s Guide to Yoga).

Yoga to Do During Your Run

We practiced this during the Parking Lot routine, but it also applies during the run. Focus on these points:
  1. Mountain pose alignment. Where can you relax more?
  2. Your breath, and how it coordinates with your movement. Remember your homework: to pay attention to how many steps you take per breath, and which foot is landing when you start and finish both inhalation and exhalation.
  3. A mantra. Develop a full roster of mantras that work for you, and practice them in both relaxing and intense moments, so they are familiar and comfortable.
  4. Drishti. Set your gaze, then soften around that focus. Extra credit: try going through the Parking Lot routine with your eyes closed. Be sure you have enough room to wobble and fall!

Yoga to Do After Your Run

Standing Stretches (p. 176 of The Runner’s Guide to Yoga, also at http://www.yogavibes.com/store/paid-classes/product/online-yoga-class-postworkout-stretch/ and at http://sagerountree.com/2006/02/05/sage-yoga-training-standing-stretches/). Hold each 5–15 breaths.
  • Dancer pose (quad stretch, foot to hand)
  • Standing pigeon (figure 4, ankle over thigh)
  • Pyramid (step top foot forward, train tracks; core variation is to lift the shoulders, flexibility variation is to relax forward)

We also did a squat (covered here: http://www.runnersworld.com/stretching/race-recovery and here: http://blogs.yogajournal.com/activeyogi/2011/10/twist-and-squat.html), either knees forward or knees wide.

Downward-facing dog at the wall releases shoulders, chest, hips, and hamstrings.

Yoga to Do Long After Your Run (aka Yoga in Bed)

Reclining twists (here: http://www.yogavibes.com/store/paid-classes/product/online-yoga-for-athletes-class-reclining-twists/ and here: http://sagerountree.com/2009/09/24/sage-yoga-training-reclining-twists/) Hold each 10–20 breaths.
  • First twist, bottom leg to opposite hip, top leg foot to floor
  • Second, swing foot to same-side long edge of mat, drop to top leg side, extend arm overhead
  • Third, step bottom leg foot to tailbone, lift hips and shift to top leg side, drop legs to bottom leg side

One group also got to enjoy legs up the wall, which you can read about here: http://www.yogavibes.com/videos/watch/instructional-vignette-legs-up-the-wall-pose-viparita-karani

For my friends who asked about overstretching, especially in the hamstrings: http://sagerountree.com/2013/03/22/sage-advice-high-hamstring-strain/

Finally, for my friend in Edmonton who asked about shin splints, here’s my yoga-based answer: http://www.livestrong.com/article/555852-one-great-answer-what-can-i-do-to-fix-shin-splints/.

Remember, all, seek balance—it helps prevent injury and ensures your longevity.

Thanks for having me, Canada!

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