Yoga for Runners, Paragon Sports

Sea of mats carefully laid out by Paragon Sports staff

Sea of mats carefully laid out by Paragon Sports staff

Last week, I visited the legendary, still-family-owned Paragon Sports near Union Square in New York City for a yoga for runners class, thanks to my sponsor prAna. It was a beautifully produced event, start to finish, and there were even sandwiches! A lovely, lively community of runners congregates at Paragon, and I felt honored to spend time with them. The rest of the trip was spent running in Central Park, visiting YogaWorks Westside, and, according to my expense receipts, visiting every bakery in a five-block radius of Lincoln Center.

As promised, here’s a rundown of what we did, with links to media depicting these routines for practice before, during, and after a run. The first three routines are also in this free yoga for runners video on prAna’s website.

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.

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.

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