Running is one of the best ways to stay fit and burn calories. It builds muscle in the legs and core, and also strengthens the heart and lungs. However, if your body is not conditioned for this type of exercise you might experience pain or stiffness in certain areas. Try these yoga poses to prepare your body for a run or to stretch out after hitting the streets.
High Lunge - Place the right foot forward and the left foot back as far as comfortable. Keep the right foot flat and push up onto the ball of the left foot. Bend the right knee over the ankle, and straighten the left leg while pushing back through the heel. Extend the arms overhead. Keep the shoulders relaxed away from the ears. Hold for three to six breaths. Repeat on the left side. This pose stretches the calves, ankles, thighs and abs.
Low Lunge - From High Lunge (right leg forward) drop the left knee to the floor and flatten the left foot. Keep the right knee over the ankle. Clasp the hands together over head and point the index fingers straight up. Gently lean back while pushing the tailbone down and forward to stretch the left hip flexor and quads. Hold for three to six breaths. Repeat with the left foot forward.
Cat/Cow - Begin on all fours with the hands under the shoulders and the knees under the hips. Inhale look up at the ceiling and arch the back while pressing the belly toward the floor. Exhale, round the back and look back at the legs. Keep the toes tucked under throughout the movement to stretch the bottom of the feet. Repeat for three to six breaths.
Garland - Begin standing with feet about six inches apart. Place the arms straight out at shoulder height. Bend the knees as far as comfortable while keeping the feet flat. (If the heels come up off the floor place a blanket under the heels for support.) Try to rest the tailbone toward the heels. Bring the hands together between the legs and press the triceps into the inner thighs. Hold for three to six breaths. This pose opens the hips, releases the lower back, and stretches the achilles tendon.