Recovery yoga for runners is a great way to wind down after a run. One essential aspect of recovery yoga for runners is practicing your breathing. This may sound silly to you if you’ve never considered it. However, you should try it.
Practicing you breathing will help you recover better and faster. Recovery yoga breathing will help you maximize your oxygen intake and also will relax you. These things are important because your body will need oxygen and good circulation to help flush out toxins from your run, and you’ll need to relax your muscles, especially your shoulders and neck, that tense up while you run.
In order to gain the benefits from your recovery yoga breathing, you will need to learn how to transition from your running breathing, which causes you to tense up and increase your heart rate, into a breathing technique that will bring your heart rate back to normal. Also, this breathing will relax your shoulders and neck. Hence, allowing you to take in as much fresh oxygen as possible.
You see, when you run, your breathing tends to be shallow, through the mouth, and more frequent inhales and exhales. This rapid mouth breathing activates your body’s fight-or-flight response through the sympathetic nervous system, which can cause tension and anxiety.
Recovery yoga breathing, however, will teach you how to activate your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for your rest-and-digest response. You can achieve this by taking deeper, slower breaths through your nose. You will immediately feel your shoulders relax and stress melt away.
This article outlines and describes 7 things you can do after and between your runs to help you recover.
Recovery Yoga For Runners Tip 1: Breathing technique
When focusing on your breathwork to help you recover from a run, it’s important to use proper breathing technique. This is the technique that you should use after and between your runs, whether you’re walking, stretching, or watching TV.
First, start with your lips together, mouth closed. Second, using the back of your throat, slowly breathe in through your nose. As your lungs fill will air, let you chest and belly gently expand. Third, when you reach the peak of your inhale, breathe in just a little more air and hold for a brief moment.
Next, with your lips still together and mouth shut, slowly begin to exhale through your nose. As you exhale, use the back of your throat to gently push out the air. Also, use your abdominal muscles to help squeeze out as much carbon dioxide as possible.
When you reach the bottom of your breath, exhale just a little more. With your eyes open, do 10 breaths. Shoot for 6-second inhales and 6-second exhales. As you breathe, you should feel your body relax, especially after the first two breaths. And especially in the shoulders, neck, back.
Recovery Yoga For Runners Tip 2: Post-run walk while doing the breathing technique
At the end of each run, be sure to walk long enough for your heart rate to return to normal. Also, practice the breathing technique described above.
First, as your running pace slows to a walk, start using the yoga breathing technique described above as you continue walking. Your shoulders should relax almost immediately upon your first exhale. On the second exhale, your shoulders should relax even more. You may feel your neck relax, too.
Next, continue walking and breathing until your heart rate and breathing are back to their resting state. Doing this after each run will help you recover better and faster.
Recovery Yoga For Runners Tip 3: Laying flat on your back
Once you’re ready to stop walking, to maximize your recovery, you can lay down on the ground and practice the breathing technique.
First, lay flat on your back with your arms by your side and your legs flat against the ground. Your feet should be touching one another. Some people call this “dead body pose” or “corpse” pose. Surely you can figure out why. This pose will help you relax and breathe even deeper. By laying on the ground, your body doesn’t have to fight gravity nearly as much when pumping blood throughout. The floor, moreover, supports your body’s weight so that you can sink into a deeper state of relaxation.
Next, with your eyes open and with stillness of mind and body, begin the breathing technique described above. To help rejuvenate your body, as you cycle through your inhales and exhales, let your breath get deeper and more relaxed.
By remaining still during this exercise, your blood flows more freely from your heart and throughout the rest of your body. This allows the fresh oxygen that you take in during your deep breaths to more effectively flush out the lactic acid and other toxins that you built up from your run. Despite the temptation to shut your eyes, keep them open throughout this exercise.
When doing this pose, it’s best to lay on a flat, firm surface, like a hardwood or carpeted floor. Not your comfy couch or bed.
Yoga mats are usually made of some type of foam that protect your joints and bones from hard floors by providing the perfect amount of cusion. Despite the cushion, a good yoga mat should be firm. Not only can you use yoga mats for yoga, you can use them for pilates and stretching too. They’re easy to clean, carry, and store. If you’re doing yoga, you should definitely consider having a mat.
Click here for the 5 best yoga mats for sweaty guys.
Recovery Yoga For Runners Tip 4: Triangle pose
When practicing your recovery yoga after a run, one pose that will help your breathwork is triangle pose. Using the breathing technique described above, get set up in your triangle pose.
First, start by standing with your feet together and arms by your side. Second, spread your legs and lift your arms to the sides. Next, turn your right foot out so that it’s parallel with your hips.
Still facing forward, bend your right knee and lower down so that the top of your right thigh is parallel to the ground. Make sure your right knee doesn’t extend beyond your right toes. You should feel your hips open and your groin stretch.
Pause for a moment to focus on your breath.
Take one deep inhale. As you exhale, turn your shoulders so that your right elbow touches the inside of your right leg and your right hand touches the inside of your right foot.
Your left arm should be straight and high above your head, and your eyes should be looking up at your left hand. While all twisted and with balance, keep your breathing steady and consistent. This is the payoff for getting into this posture.
Your breathing will naturally want to become shorter and more rapid. Despite this tendency, your goal is to keep your breathing normal. Take one last exhale. As you inhale, begin to exit the pose. Focus on your breath. As you untwist, fresh blood rushes through your body. Imagine the toxins from your run being flushed out as you return to stillness. Repeat on the left side.
Recovery Yoga For Runners Tip 5: Standing bow pose
Standing bow pose is another good recovery yoga posture for runners working on their breathing. This pose will help you expand your chest and lungs.
First, standing with your feet together and hands by your side, bend your right knee and bring the heel of your right foot toward the outside of your right hip. Second, with your right hand, grab the inside of your right foot where your foot meets your ankle.
Next, lift your left hand up in the air with the arm straight. Inhale big. As you exhale, slowly lean your body forward and kick your right leg up and back. You should kick harder than you think you should to to engage the right glute. Keep your hips parallel to the ground.
Like with triangle, your breathing will tend to shorten and become more rapid. Resist that tendency. Keep your breath normal and your mouth shut. Gently breath through the nose using the back of your throat to guide and control your breath.
After reaching your max, hold it for a moment. On an inhale, slowly come out of the posture. Repeat on the left side.
You can do standing bow pose barefoot, but if you’re at the gym or on a running trail, you may prefer to wear shoes.
One great shoe for women for both running and yoga is the Nike Women’s Free RN Flyknit. It’s lightweight, breathable, and moves comfortable with your foot. Also, it’s perfect for a long run followed by recovery yoga for runners because it’s durable enough to protect your feet during a run, yet forgiving enough to not interfere with your yoga.
A great shoe for men for both running and yoga is the Nike Men’s Downshifter. It’s lightweight, breathable, and resilient. It provides the durability you’ll need for your run, yet it’s gentle enough on your feet that when doing yoga you’ll forget you’re even wearing them.
If, however, you’re looking for a more “barefoot” experience, try the JOOMRA Women’s Minimalist Trail Running Barefoot Shoes or the WHITIN Men’s Minimalist Trail Runner. These shoes are breathable, lightweight, and will give you more of a “barefoot feel” than the typical running shoe. You can run in them, and then do your recovery yoga for runners without sacrificing too much of that “barefoot” feeling.
Recovery Yoga For Runners Tip 6: Scorpion handstand
Scorpion handstand is great for working on your breathwork when recovering from a run because it will require you to focus on your breath more so than with other poses. Because scorpion requires the perfect coordination of strength, flexibility, and balance, you’ll need to be very mindful of your breath so that you can successfully move your body with it.
First, start by getting into a handstand. While in the handstand, check your breathing to make sure you’re using the technique described above. In through the nose, out through the nose.
Next, on one of your exhales, begin moving your legs back toward the direction your back is facing. When you reach the end of the exhale, pause your leg movement and inhale. As you begin your next exhale, begin moving your legs again. Repeat this until you reach the full expression of your scorpion handstand.
When you come back to standing, be sure to stay still for a moment. This will help as your racing heart slows back to normal. Using your breath, stay relaxed but focused.
You’ll need good headphones that can withstand the running motion and turn upside down with you in scorpion handstand.
One great option is in-ear wireless headphones. They fit comfortably into your ear, and because they don’t have wires, you don’t have to worry about getting tangled while you run or do yoga.
Another great option are wireless noise-cancelling headphones. These also won’t get you tangled, and they fit snugly around your ear so that you don’t have to worry about the falling off as you run or do your recovery yoga.
Recovery Yoga For Runners Tip 7: Breathing before bed
Finally, to help complete your recovery, as you lay in bed preparing to fall asleep, spend a few minutes practicing the breathing technique described above.
Just like after your run, after each of your first few breaths, your shoulders and neck will relax. You’ll also find that your mind relaxes too. While in this enhanced state of relaxation, you should fall asleep more quickly than usual.
If you try a cream, simply rub the cream anywhere on your body. If you’re tight or in pain somewhere, rub the cream on those areas. It should help ease the pain and tension. Otherwise, your shoulders, neck, back are all great places. Maybe even your temples.
If you try a gummy, eat it 30-45 minutes before you want to fall asleep. In addition to helping relieve pain and ease tension, these products should make you sleep deeper than usual. Oftentimes, you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed than ever. Don’t worry, these products won’t get you high!