Most of us athletes have at least one muscle group that seems to be always over-active. For me as a runner, my quadriceps have always been achy and never really used to let go. In this short class, begin to discover ease in your hamstrings and quads. Enjoy this class as a cool down after your next run and practice 3 times a week for 2 weeks to notice an extreme decrease in your overall muscle tension.
High Lunge (1 minute/side), Pyramid Pose (1 minute/side), Low Lunge (1 minute/side), Runner’s stretch (1 minute/side), Figure 4 pose (2 minutes/side), Bridge Pose (2 minutes), Rest (at least 1 minute).
- Begin in a standing forward fold. Have your feet hips distance apart and take a deep bend to your knees. Hug your shins towards one another isometrically (an energetic action without outer movement), feeling the muscles of the legs firm in. Take your thighs in and back flaring your sitting bones and exaggerating your lumbar curve. Keep that while you simultaneously draw the flesh of the buttocks down towards your heels (a gentle scooping action without clenching the glutes!).
- Inhale to lengthen your heart forward through your arms and exhale bend deeply to your knees and slowly from your core take one foot to the back of the mat
- Stack your back heal over the toes and find a strait strong back leg. Keep this as you begin to lunge deeply into the front leg until your thigh becomes parallel to the ground. Make sure knee tracks over ankle and there is equal pressure in your feet.
- Place your hands on fingertips at either side of your front foot.
- From here, drop your back knee untuck the toes and once again find a strait strong back leg pressing the back of your knee up towards the sky. Notice the new depth of the front of your thigh (Psoas muscle)
Interpose: Pyramid Pose on back toes
- To release, begin to straighten your front leg as you track that same hip back in space. Keep spine long, shoulders soft, and heart stretched forward.
- Now drop your back knee. Stabilize your pelvis by squaring your hips. Draw the flesh of your buttocks down towards your front heel and feel the lower belly engage. This will also deepen the psoas stretch.
- Slowly begin to lower the pelvis forward and down. Tighten what’s tight in order to let go.
Interpose: Runner’s stretch
- Press to your front big toe and slowly begin to slide your hips evenly back in space until the front leg is strait. Stack your upper joints- hands under shoulders. Keep spine long, shoulders soft, and heart stretched forward.
Repeat sequence on both sides before moving onto your back.
Figure Four Pose
- Bend the knees and stack your knees directly over your ankles to begin.
- Lift your right foot, hooking the ankle just above your left knee keeping space between the thighs.
- Stage one, stay right here, even guiding your right knee forwards with your own hand.
- Stage two, interlace your hands around your left thigh drawing the thigh in as you move the opposite knee forward.
- Stage three, interlace your hands around your left shin.
- *Through all stages, be mindful to anchor the back of the pelvis down to the yoga mat, press the shoulders down and gently press through the back of the head as well.
- Do second side.
Little Bridge Pose
- Bend the knees and take your feet close in towards body. Start with hands 45 degrees away from body and connect to your three points of contact again (head, shoulders, back of pelvis)
- Press to the feet as well as your release the hips to the sky, lifting your heart, broadening collarbones, yet maintaining slight inner rotation at the thighs to avoid splaying of the knees.
- Hold for 10 breaths.
- Lead with the back of the pelvis, lowering down.
- Draw the soles of the feet together now, knees wide.
- Let your breath slow down.
- Enjoy the sensations in the body, the warm and space in the legs.