Power Of The Poses

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My student Ann, is a triathlete. She usually does 5-6 races in a season in addition to training. This year, she decided to add marathons. Both the running and swimming kind. Wait, swimming? Yes, indeed. Like six miles. In a lake.

The three activities that are involved in triathlons: swimming, cycling and running all involve the same basic movement in the hip and leg. As well as the same muscle groups.  Flexion, extension, flexion, extension, flexion, extension…over and over. Repetitive movement. The same muscles get used especially the quadriceps, calf muscles (gastrocnemius and soleus) and hamstrings. I would say overused. And with overuse comes shortening, both of the muscles and surrounding soft tissues.

Ann’s calves and hamstrings are notoriously tight. I nicknamed the latter, recalcitrant muscle group, the “Dastardly Ann-strings” (via silent film villain Dastardly Dan). Since incorporating YTU work into our classes, there have been significant breakthroughs.  A recent session was focused on hips and legs, working towards Paschimottanasana (Intense Western Stretch). Anyone with tight legs/hams/calves will tell you this is most likely NOT their favorite pose. Ann has never done this pose without a strap…ever.  We warmed up with some traditional asana and then YTU poses:  Asymmetrical Uttananasana and Parsvottanasana, Moon Rises and  Leg Stretch #1 to name a few.

It was time for Paschi…cue doom and gloom music. Ann sat on her mat and put her strap on the floor next to her calf.  She looked at me, rolled her eyes, then closed them and started her journey forward, hinging at the hips. Her fingers were searching for the belt so she opened her eyes to find it to discover, surprise!, her fingertips were past her feet. Actually, at the second joint of her fingers and she didn’t need the strap for the first time.  Much joyful squealing ensued.  “LOOK! I reached my feet! I can see my knees! I’ve never seen knees from this angle!”  It was thrilling to be part of the discovery with her, to witness her joy in the experience of the “new normal” in calves and hams.

Here’s one of the poses that helped Ann: Asymmetrical Uttanasana, which you can also find on the 10 Minute Quick Fix for Hips video.

Read about the most important part of a yoga pose.

Learn about Yoga Tune Up at home.

Find a Yoga Tune Up class or workshop near you.

Heidi Broecking

I've been a yoga practitioner for 13 years and took my 200-hour certification in 2010. I received my Level 1 YTU certification with Jill Miller in March of 2011 at the Kripalu Center. When I'm not with my husband and son, I love to geek out on anatomy and ride a road bike, really fast. Providing a science based system of total body fitness, Yoga Tune Up® has provided me a seamless bridge between enhancing my performance and recovery as an athlete. Yoga Tune Up® has also given me greater understanding of mobility and biomechanics as it relates to the practice of Yogasana. YTU inspires curiosity for me as both a teacher and student of Yoga.

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Kristin Kandyba

This is so me–tight hammies and calves, and long time runner! I will definitely try rolling before doing a forward and see how it goes. thanks!

Saori

Hi Heidi! Thank you for sharing this info. It comes in handy as I’m training for my first triathlon as well. You’re so right about the overuse muscles especially the quads. I run about 18-20 miles a week & teach 6 cycling classes weekly so those tips & video definitely helped!

Patricia Lamontagne

After practicing traditional yoga for a few years now, I can say that all those new YTU poses have brought a whole new dimension to my practice. There are so many movements I won’t do the same way again.

Gina Decker

I have quite a few friends who run including my husband, I am excited to show this stretch to them. They all have tight hamstrings
and do not liking stretching those particular muscles. They probably will not be fond of this stretch but maybe with some attention placed on the upper body movement they can find a sense of release.

Nikki Wong

I just started training for my triathlon and have been putting miles and miles on my bike. I love it. Believe or not, my hips are benefiting from the tightness that is caused by the repetitive motion of running, swimming and biking because I am one of those loosey goosey bendy yoga teachers. It’s ironic to say that I rather be stiff than too flexible because I had no idea of how to propriocept that area of my body. Now that I am stiff, I’m re-educating myself to keep my hips, hammies, calves flexible in a much healthier way.

Jenn

Thanks for sharing this sequence –
Most people cheat by tilting their pelvis and flexing their spine – to avoid the hamstrings. I love the addition of moon rises because it helps to propriocept the pelvis.

Alicia

Thanks for sharing this, my husband is a marathon runner and as you so clear explained he has very tight hamstrings and strechitng in pashimotanasa is not his favorite pose. Incorporating the asymetrical uttanasana and exploring moon rises will be more playful and efective exercices to get lastly in pashimottanasana and I’m sure he will we more motivated.

Sabina

Moon Rises are also a wonderful antidote to the perpetual motion of hip flexiion and extension of running, biking, swimming, by switching the direction of the movement within the hip joint to internal and external rotation, providing lubrication and increased blood flow to the joint, and easing tension in cranky hip joints, especially after a Triathlon!

Rachelle Gura

Before Yoga TuneUp I did not have the tools to reach the depths of the hamstrings, calves etc. My only solution had been to stop doing all the movement that was shortening those muscles and just stretch, stretch, stretch. It is amazing not to limit activities yet still remain supple and fluffy 🙂

bo

It drive me nuts when people think that runners, swimmers, bikers etc can’t be yogis too. I think that people who are truely serious about their sports need something like Yoga Tune Up to keep that out of injury while training. Its amazing what a little intelegent stretching can accomplish as far as increasing range of motion. The other piece of this, of course, is that progress on the mat usually equal progress in training. I have definetly experienced that in my own practice. A good hip class with out a doubt increases my speed, its amazing.

Hannah

I am a running and I can’t wait to see how this stretch will help me with my tight calf muscles. Such a great technique that anyone would benefit from!

Chau

Definitely going to bookmark this one, my hips are my tightest joint no matter what I do!

Barry Au-Yeung

Thank you for the awesome techique again. I can start asking people to do this version of Uttanasana 🙂

regina

this is one of my absolute favorite hip stretches – i have found it’s a very approachable one for people of all levels of fitness!

Amanda Z

I work in a fitness focussed environment. Everyone is counting calories as their cardio minutes add up throught the day. Great for cardiovascular endurance but not so great for those hips that take the abuse of repetitive hip flexion and extension. Most of my co-workers rack up hours upon hours on tredmills, elipticals, spin bikes, etc..and are not affraid to mention that they fear being asked to teach a stretch class. I’m hoping that their journey through body movement will take a guided detour through YTU once I start to teach these classes at our facility. After all, we don’t… Read more »

hcb10960

Thanks for all the great feedback!

Be sure to check out the YTU pose of the week, this week (week of August 22). It happens to be Leg Stretch #1 at the wall!

“Closing the chain” by placing the foot of your extended leg on the wall, you create stability. It allows you to focus on the movement in the hip joint and the huge stretch in the calf and hamstring. It also offers instant feedback as to what that extended leg is doing.

Eva

This is a great article for my fellow runner friends who often do not see the connection and benefits of yoga in their workouts. Looking forward to sharing this article with them Thanks!

Sherry Matwe

Awsomeness, I’ve been instructing fellow yogi’s and runners on Yoga Tune up Stretches #1,2, and 3 – all week – Certainly I am inspired by this piece aswell! Your client is lucky to have you sounds like a break through again looking forward ha ha to this variation on fwd bend. Alie – YTU stretch #1 is supine (laying on our back) we flex one leg strait up (soul of foot to sky – right angle to your hip socket like a big straightleg march) with a strap in the middle of the foot, holding on both sides while the… Read more »

Alie

Hi there,

I am a runner and yoga instructor, so I am very excited to try this. What is leg stretch #1?

Thanks!
Alie

Keith Wittenstein

Great piece. It’s amazing how you can free up forward bends with a few YTU poses and some YTU Ball Therapy. It’s shocking how fast you can get results. It’s worked on me and my clients with tight hamstrings.