A post-run stretch in La Jolla!
Can you give runners some tips on practicing safe yoga to avoid knee pain/injuries? Is there something we are all doing wrong to hurt ourselves further? Is there a type of yoga to avoid, or stretches we should focus on? - Amber
a yogi answers
Running typically shortens your muscles rather than lengthens. Over a period of time, this repetitive motion contributes to tight hamstrings, sore backs and feet and often stress on the knees due to misalignment and excessive pounding. Yoga is a wonderful therapy for runners, but I have found that generally runners want to get to the finish line quickly, so be patient and gentle with your yoga practice. It is not a race but a lifelong process.
Regarding tips for yogis who run, I suggest that you try to incorporate yoga postures before and after your run. Start with some basic sun salutations that commonly include lunges, which will help open up the hip flexors, forward folds, which will stretch the hamstrings, and Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog), which will touch on your hamstrings and calves while lengthening the muscles in your back. If you have really tight hamstrings, you can try stretching your hamstrings while lying on your back by bending one leg and keeping that foot on the floor. Take your other leg up so it is perpendicular to the floor. Interlace your fingers around your hamstring and gently pull your leg in closer to your chest at the same time pressing your leg into your hands. End with stretching out the quadriceps, perhaps in Saddle Pose, a variation on Supta Virasana (Reclined Hero Pose) and which is typically easier on the knees.
Perhaps most importantly, if during any yoga pose you feel any sensation in or around the knees, slowly and mindfully get out of the pose and ask your yoga teacher for a variation. If you ever get to the point of pain, you definitely have gone too far in that pose and need to modify. For example, you will probably want to avoid any half or full lotus postures if you have tight hips or hamstrings. There are countless variations on all yoga poses. Remember to be gentle and never force a stretch. You should feel the stretches in the largest part of the muscle that you are stretching and not where your muscles attach to bone, i.e. around your knees or under your buttocks.
I hope this helps and good luck with your yoga and running!
I’ve been practicing yoga for years, and I was wondering what poses are off limits during pregnancy? I know there are some obvious ones, like inversions and anything involving being flat on your stomach. Thanks so much! - Danielle
a yogi answers
First, congratulations and enjoy this exciting time in your life! Since almost all pregnancies are different, not to mention the differences in body types, it is imperative that you explain to your doctor the details of your yoga practice and listen to your doctor’s advice so that you understand your limitations during this special time. This time being pregnant will go by quickly, and it is definitely better to be safe than sorry. I have two children and practiced throughout both pregnancies but my practice changed throughout both pregnancies as I was constantly confronted with different physical issues.
The following are some of the postures that various yogis have recommended be avoided during pregnancy: Parivritta Trikonasana (revolved triangle pose), Parivritta Parsvakonasana (revolved side angle pose), Parivritta Utkatasana (revolved chair pose) and any other twists because of the pressure they may put on the abdominal cavity; all inversions except Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog); and deep backbends because they might stretch the abdominal wall too much; Navasana (boat pose) because of the stress it causes to your abdominals; intense vinyasa sequences that require you to jump forward or back; and of course any posture in which you are required to lie on your stomach.
You might be able to modify twists by taking open twists or do open-seated twists. You also might be able to do seated hip openers to relieve the pressure in your lower back. Most standing postures were fine for me, but I practiced next to a wall for all of the balancing postures. Finally, I recommend that you consider more restorative types of yoga especially during the first trimester when your body is building a life support system for the baby inside and perhaps devoting a greater portion of your practice to meditation.
Again, congratulations and enjoy!