The Vinyasa Show Artwork
Season 5 - Episode 9

Flow for Runners and Cyclists

25 min - Practice


Rosemary leads us in a simple and accessible sequence designed for runners or any athlete with tightness in the quadriceps, hips, and hamstrings. With attention on the breath and deep stretching, this practice targets the muscles, joints, and usual tight spots, promoting increased mobility, flexibility, and relief. You will feel renewed and refreshed.
What You'll Need: Mat, Block

About This Video

Feb 29, 2016
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(waves crashing) Hello, and welcome back. So, this is a sequence that's designed for runners, but it really would work for anyone really athletic. Maybe if you cycle a lot, or if you just tend to have a lot of tightness through your quad muscles, your hips, your hamstring muscles. I have been doing yoga for a gajillion years, but I haven't been running all that long, and when I started running, it was very interesting how it affected my yoga practice. I think running is a phenomenal exercise, it's really, really cleansing for my mind, and it builds strength in a different way.

But damn, it makes me tight. So, it's really, really important after a run to take some time to stretch, and it amazes me how many people don't, to keep the muscles really healthy, to keep them long and fluid, and if you're practicing yoga with any regularity, you really wanna keep that length, keep that mobility and flexibility for the sake of injury, and just for the depth of your practice. This could be a wonderful practice after a really long run, after a short run. It could also be great on a day off when you're just kinda feeling tight and sticky and contracted, it'll help to open it all up and target those that get really tight when we run. So, I hope it helps.

Thanks for joining, and enjoy. We'll start at the front of the mat, feet together, take the hands to prayer at the heart center. Let the eyes close for a moment, and let your awareness go way down inside. (deep breathing) Rounding through the feet, strong through the legs, and tall through the spine. Tuning into the flow of your breath.

(deep breathing) We'll start simply with three surya namaskara As. If you're already warm, fresh from a run onto the mat, wonderful. This will help to stretch out the back, open up the breath and the body a little. And if you have not come from a run or any other intense physical activity, this will help to warm the body to prepare you for some deeper stretching. So, exhale all the breath out.

Let the eyes open, big inhale, take the arms out and up. And exhale, fold forward. Inhale, lengthen halfway. And exhale, hop or step into your plank pose. And lower knees first, or chaturanga.

Inhale, soft cobra, or upward dog. And exhale, go back, downward facing dog. Five breaths here, take your time, and play with it as much as you'd like, breathing into the backs of the calves, the hamstring muscles, long through the spine, breathing into the muscles of the back. Three. (deep breathing) Two.

(deep breathing) And the bottom of your exhale, soft bend in the knees, hop or step to the front of the mat. Inhale, lengthen halfway. And exhale, fold. Strong center, inhale, rise all the way up. With your exhale, take the hands to prayer at heart center.

Good, two more like that. Inhale, out and up. And exhale, fold forward. Inhale, come halfway, and again, hop or step back, and lower. Inhale, lift the heart.

Exhale, downward facing dog again, five full breaths. Anything you need here. Maybe deep bend in one knee, really lengthening the back of the other leg. Maybe working on really sending the heels towards the earth to stretch through the calf muscles. 'Bout three more breaths.

(deep breathing) And bottom of the exhale, soft bend in the knees, hop or step forward, inhale to lengthen. Exhale, fold. Inhale, all the way up. And exhale, draw the hands to prayer at the heart. Last cycle, inhale, take it up.

Exhale to fold. Inhale, halfway. Exhale, back and through your vinyasa. Any variation. Meeting in downward facing dog.

So again, five breaths. Downward dog is such an amazing pose to open that whole back body. So, if the backs of the legs are tight, it's just an amazing place to be, sending the heels down, lifting through the sit bones. Breathing all the way up through the backs of the legs, and then through the length of the spine. (deep breathing) Right.

So from here, root down through that left foot. With a big inhale, sweep the right leg to the sky. As you exhale, open that hip, bend the knee, and take a couple breaths into that outer right hip. Simultaneously, send the left heel down to the earth. Doesn't have to touch, just moving in that direction will help to open the back of the leg even more.

Then, inhale, right leg to the sky. And exhale, draw the right foot all the way forward between the hands, lower the back knee to the earth, simple low lunge. If you'd like to pad that knee, you can fold the mat over, or grab a blanket. And then slowly inhale. Go ahead and come on up.

Take the hands to that front thigh, and keep your legs strong and your core lifting. Slowly guide the hips forward. Start to feel those left quad muscles and hip flexors, and know your own edge. When you feel like you've reached it, just pause. Breathe into it.

Nothing fancy with the arms or the upper body here, 'cause the emphasis is really on opening through the legs and the bowl of the pelvis. If after a few breaths you find you can come a little deeper, go for it, but no forcing. One more breath. (deep breathing) And then as you exhale, hands come down, ardha hanumanasana, drawing the hips straight back. Right, there's a reason they call this runner's lunge.

So, the right foot flexes back towards the body, and then as that right hip, right sit bone go back, inhale, extend your heart out, get really long through the spine. And exhale, fold over the right leg. This is all about those right hamstring muscles. So, just ease down into it. We're gonna give this plenty of time.

No forcing, no rushing. Maybe the forehead releases towards that shin. Maybe our million miles away. Maybe the hands are up on two blocks if you're really tight through the hamstring muscles. Just support yourself however you need.

And then, if you'd like, you can start to slide that right foot out into full hanumanasana. Again, go mindfully. It's not necessary, if you're already feeling the stretch in the hamstring muscles, you don't have to take it this far. If you're close to the earth but not quite, that right hamstring muscle, right thigh can be supported with a block, okay? So, let's take five more breaths in any variation.

(deep breathing) One. Send the breath down into any resistance. Two. (deep breathing) Three. (deep breathing) Four.

(deep breathing) And then slowly draw the right foot in if you're in full hanuman. Otherwise, we'll just simply guide the hips forward here. And then, walk the hands down inside of the front foot. Be really mindful of this right knee in this sequence. You can stay here if this intense enough.

You can come down onto the forearms and the elbows all the way to the earth, or up on a block. And then just soft through the neck. Right foot can walk out a little, right knee can even open out a little if that's all right on the knee joint. For many, this is plenty. If you'd like to try, rest on that left forearm, reach the right hand back for the left foot, and then slowly, come on down, taking the foot with you.

Deep breath into your left quad muscles. Let's stay for five. (deep breathing) Four. Soft through the neck and the jaw. Three.

(deep breathing) Two. (deep breathing) If you have the foot, let it go gently, and then, we'll simply walk the hands back up, either side of the front foot. Tuck the back toes, big inhale. And exhale, step to downward facing dog. Give it a couple breaths.

(deep breathing) And then second side. Inhale, left leg up. And exhale, open the hip, bend the knee. Send the right heel to the earth, so you're opening the back of the right leg as well as the outer left hip. Stay for the inhale, lengthen it.

And exhale, step it all the way forward between the hands, lower the back knee to the earth. Give it padding if you'd like, and that simple low lunge. Hands interlaced on the front thigh, guide the hips forward. Again, legs are strong, core is drawing in and up, so you're not dropping into the joints or the low back, but rather really zeroing in on the right hip flexors and the right quad muscles. A few more breaths.

(deep breathing) And then, gently exhale. Release the hands down, take the hips back for ardha hanumanasana. Pausing here, draw back through that left hip, left sit bone. Inhale, lengthen out through the heart, and then, exhale, slowly fold forward. If you're tight through the backs of the legs, this is a lot.

You might even need your hands up on blocks. If you're naturally fairly flexible, and you wanna take it a little bit deeper, you'll begin to slide that left leg out. All the way down, or again, onto the block. And remember, you can take that block at any height. So, as high or as low as your body needs.

Try to keep the pelvis relatively balanced, the spine tall, and let's give it five more breaths. (deep breathing) Five. (deep breathing) Four. Soft through the shoulders. Three.

(deep breathing) Two. (deep breathing) And one, alright. Then slowly, if that leg is extended, draw it back in. If you're in regular ardha hanumanasana, then just slowly guide your hips forward, and then we'll ease the hands inside of the front foot. Maybe stay here, maybe release onto forearms and elbows on the earth or the block.

If it's all right with this left knee, you can come to the outer edge of the foot and melt down there. Again, this might be plenty. If you'd like, you can bend the right knee, reach the left hand back for that foot, and then slowly easing down, take the foot with you, and send your breath into your right quad muscles. Five. (deep breathing) Four.

(deep breathing) Three. (deep breathing) Two. (deep breathing) Mm-hmm. And if you have the foot, very gently exhale, let it go. With the inhale, we'll walk the upper body back in and up.

Exhale, hands either side of the front foot, tuck the back toes, lift the back knee. Step straight into downward facing dog. And again, give yourself a few breaths here. (deep breathing) Alright, and then, moving into the hips. Strong arms, inhale, take the right leg straight up.

And exhale, draw the knee and the shin forward. If you need to support that right sit bone, right hip, please feel free. And once it's nice and situated, inhale, lengthen. And exhale, slowly ease yourself all the way down. We're gonna take a full 10 breaths here.

The hip muscles, the glute muscles get super tight with intense running, cycling, anything really deeply athletic. So, you wanna give yourself time here to let it unwind. (deep breathing) Sending the breath deep into the hip and the glute muscles, maybe even the inner thighs, the low back, sacrum area. Anywhere you feel contraction or tension or soreness, you take the breath there, and stay with it for five. (deep breathing) Four.

(deep breathing) Three. (deep breathing) Two. One more breath. (deep breathing) And then inhale. Walk it back in and up.

With the exhale, tuck the back toes, lift the back knee. Inhale, right leg goes all the way back to the sky. Exhale, we'll open the hip again, bend the knee. This might be plenty. If so, enjoy it.

If you're in the mood, you have the space, the desire, flip it open into a back bend variation. Why not? Three. Shake it all out. Two.

(deep breathing) And then inhale, right leg goes back to the sky. And exhale, shake the leg out. Return to downward facing dog. Take a big inhale. Open the mouth, exhale.

(sustained exhale) And then inhale, left leg to the sky. Exhale, open the hip, bend the knee. And then inhale, lengthen it. Exhale, pigeon second side. Again, if you want any support underneath that left hip, glute area, please feel free to grab it.

Once you're grounded, inhale, lift up through the heart. And with the exhale, come all the way down. Again, plenty of time here. Wanna give those strong hip and glute muscles time to really send the breath right into it. (deep breathing) 'Bout five more breaths.

(deep breathing) One more full inhale. And exhale. (sustained exhale) And then inhale, walk the upper body back, in and up. Exhale, tuck the back toes, lift the back knee, strong arms in center. Inhale, left leg to the sky.

And then left knee bends. Drop it up and over. Again, your choice, stay right here, or if you feel for it, flip it open, lift up through the heart, reach out through that left arm. Three. (deep breathing) Two.

(deep breathing) Then inhale, left leg goes back to the sky. Exhale, shake it out a little bit. Return to downward facing dog. Let's clear it all away. Big inhale to plank.

Exhale, chaturanga. Inhale, up. And then exhale, let's go back to downward facing dog, just for a moment, release the knees to the earth. Root down through the forearms and the elbows, palms press into the earth. Then inhale, tuck the toes, and exhale, press through the heels for forearm plank.

So, the soles of the feet press back, the heart and the crown reach out for 10. Strong center, and nine. Eight, lift from that low belly. Seven. Six.

(deep breathing) Five. (deep breathing) Four. (deep breathing) Three. (deep breathing) Two. And then exhale, simply release back onto the knees.

Root up onto the hands. Inhale, tuck the toes. And exhale, let's return to downward facing dog. We just wanna keep the body warm for that deeper stretching. Take a big inhale here.

Also, take just a couple more breaths in downward dog. Feel that long open spine. (deep breathing) And then, bottom of the exhale, soft bend in the knees, we're coming all the way through to sit. Simply extend the legs straight out for dandasana, ground through the sit bones. And we're going right into a forward fold, a little more opening through the back.

Once you're situated and grounded, inhale, arms up. Exhale, fold. Any grip you'd like. Grab a strap if you have one, a towel if it's handy. Once you have it, inhale, reach through the heart.

Exhale, nice and easy, fold forward. Five deep slow breaths. (deep breathing) Alright, then, inhale, come up. Exhale, release. And we'll close with a simple twist to either side.

So, marichyasana C, bend the right knee, plant the right foot. Right hand outside the hip. Inhale, left arm up. And then exhale, hook that left elbow outside of the right knee. Spiral the spine, gaze back over the right shoulder.

We'll keep it really simple, no full bind for now. And breathe. Five. (deep breathing) Four. (deep breathing) Three.

(deep breathing) Two. (deep breathing) And one. Inhale, back to center. And exhale, switch the legs, extend the right, root the left foot. Ground your left hand out and behind the hip.

Inhale, right arm up. Exhale, twist. Again, hook the elbow, spiral, get long with the inhale. Twisting a little deeper with the exhale for five. (deep breathing) Four.

(deep breathing) Three. (deep breathing) Two. (deep breathing) Inhale, back to center. And exhale, release. All right.

Let's close with just a simple, easy seated position. Let the hands rest wherever they're comfortable. Let the eyes close. (sustained exhale) Tuning in. If the body needs anything else, if you have time and space for shavasana, if you have a foam roller and you wanna roll the quad muscles, and IT bands or anything you feel for, take that time.

Otherwise, just a moment of stillness to gather it all. Feel that shift in energy after stretchin' it all out. And hands to prayer at the heart. And a soft bow forward to seal the practice. Namaste.

Thank you so much.


Simon ?
2 people like this.
An excellent routine Rosemary. Really helpful. Bless you for sharing.
Rosemary Garrison
So glad to hear it! Thank you and many blessings.
Ted J
1 person likes this.
This is perfect for me. Going to try and do it every day for a while. 😃
Rosemary Garrison
That's awesome, Ted. Please let me know if you do!
1 person likes this.
I gave up running more than 10 years ago, and now walk 5 or 6 miles each day. This practice is also really excellent for walkers - I experience the same tightness from walking as I used to from running, and these poses are the perfect countermeasures. Thanks so much.
Rosemary Garrison
Thanks, Lori. You're absolutely right- the same tightness does occur with a lot of walking. I'm happy to know it's helping!
Christine S
I enjoyed it
Rosemary Garrison
Thanks, Christine! Happy to hear it.
Joan J
1 person likes this.
I have such tight hips, hammies, and a very sensitive low back. I love the length spent in each pose, it allows me to feel the release without rushing. I do need blocks for support, my flexibility is nill, but I do feel more open in the hips. My hamstrings need a lot more work, I walk 2 plus miles a day. This is a practice I will come to often. Grateful for your teaching.
Rosemary Garrison
Thanks, Joan. That is wonderful to hear. Keep me posted on your hamstring opening... Enjoy!
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