GET YOUR STRETCH ON
by Isabel Allen, Yoga Instructor
I hear it all the time. “I can’t do yoga. I am sooooo inflexible. Running has made my hips as movable as marble, and there is no way I can touch my toes.” The harsh reality is saying you can’t do yoga, because you are tight is just like saying you can’t drink water, because you are thirsty. You need to stretch as much as you need to hydrate. If you love running, it’s time to get your stretch on.
The ugly truth of life is the more you move, the more you sit, the longer you live, the tighter you become. Don’t fear! There is hope. I have the remedy. In this monthly blog, I will guide you through select stretches that you can easily add in to your warm-up or cool-down routine that will eventually improve your running and overall life.
We’ll start at the beginning. Everyone can do yoga. There is no perfect pose, and you don’t have to look like the cover of a magazine. So take a deep breath, and let’s do this!
Lunges are the perfect way to introduce the body and mind to yoga. The lunge position is just an exaggerated step, so incredibly useful to aid in the running motion. Holding your body in the lunge forces your muscles to engage, meaning we are stretching and strengthening at the same time. BONUS!
So how do you do it?
1. Start standing, and take the biggest possible step backward with one foot.
2. Lower your back knee to the floor, and release the top of your back foot to the floor.
*You can place your knee on a towel, pillow, or blanket to protect the bone from a hard surface
3. Bring your hands to the floor and place them inside your forward foot
*If the floor feels really far away, place blocks or some elevated surface inside your front foot and place your hands on the blocks.
4. Sink your entire pelvic hip complex towards your forward heel. Reach your chest forward through your upper arms, and focus on gently hugging everything toward the midline of your body.
5. Repeat on side two.
Need a deeper stretch? Drop down to your forearms and/or tuck the back toe and lift the back knee. Just make sure to keep the collar bones spreading forward and back muscles hugging together.
When and For How Long?
This variation is a static, active stretch. What does that mean?
-Static Stretches we perform after running (or exercising in general) when are muscles are warm.
-Active Stretches we tend to hold for less time. Let’s shoot for anywhere between 30 seconds - 2 minutes.
This pose is super intense because we are targeting regions of our body that often are our tightest. So start slow. Stay for 15 - 30 seconds each side after and build from there. Try increasing the time you hold it by 15 - 30 seconds each week until you reach 1-2 minutes.
Add the Breath
Breathing is the best way to help the muscles relax. Instead of holding your breath and forcing your body into shapes that hurt, try finding a rhythmic breath that helps your body relax into the posture. Count to 3-4 seconds on your inhale and 3-4 seconds on your exhale.
Why is it called lizard lunge? Who knows. Maybe try sticking your tongue a few times and see if you can activate the reptile within.
Isabel Allen is a rockstar instructor and an integral member of our Community Relations team at YoYoYogi.
Isabel believes in Power Vinyasa Yoga, because it pulls everything together. It forces you to be intensely present, work hard, and feel things. When things get hard, there is room for growth, expansion and opportunity. Individuals have the choice of how hard and how far to push themselves. That is where the true beauty lies. In yoga and in life, you get out of it exactly what you put into it. Isabel chooses to practice with a sense of joy and gratitude. In turn, this the fuel to the fire of her practice.
YoYoYogi is a locally-owned, family-run studio in the heart of the Pearl District. Since opening the doors in 2010, this studio has become Portland’s chosen place for mind-bendin’, body-stretchin’, peace-providin’ yoga. Just last year, YoYoYogi was recognized as one of the top 10 studios in the nation!
Yoga only for the bendy, skinny, pretzel variety? Ha! Not at YoYoYogi. This studio calls loudly for the young and old, thick and thin, big dudes and tiny Grandmas everywhere! It’s a place where all can gather to practice, play, learn, grow, laugh, and share.
At YoYoYogi, many of the best teachers in Portland come together under one beautiful, historic roof to bring you their unique and always awesome brand of yoga. Hot or Not. Power to Restorative. Beginner to Advanced. With 20 teachers, 50+ classes, wide variety of yoga, there is something for everyone!