Running outdoors has been a love of mine since I was a teenager, and it’s actually through running and my search for more flexibility and peace of mind that I found my way to a consistent yoga practice over 15 years ago. After all this time, I still find running to be the perfect activity to complement my daily yoga practice.
Check out my go-to sequence to unwind after a run on the trail. If you’re short on time, hold each pose for 5 breaths and move onto the next. If you’ve got a few extra minutes, linger in each pose for 10 full breaths. Either way, this quick sequence of yoga moves can help you cool down, increase flexibility, and bring more stability (and love!) to your joints.
Downward Facing Dog
Make your way down onto hands and knees/all fours. Place your hands in line with your shoulders and your knees hip-distance apart. Bring your wrist creases parallel to the front edge of your mat and spread your fingers wide pressing evenly through all four corners of your palms. Take a deep inhale and as you exhale gently draw your lower belly up and in towards your spine.
Maintain this connection, step your right foot and your left foot back to a high plank pose with your feet hip-distance apart. Keeping your hands and feet where they are, inhale and as you exhale lift your hips up and back into Downward Facing Dog.
Press the top of your thighs back and your heels down. If you feel any strain in the lower back, take your feet wider and/or bend your knees.
Continue to press your hands into the mat and lift your hips up and back. Stay here for 10 slow, deep breaths in and out through your nose. To come out, lower your knees to the floor and rest in Child’s Pose.
Low Crescent Lunge
Optional prop: 1 blanket
From Downward Facing Dog, take an inhale and as you exhale step your right foot forward between your hands. Make sure your right ankle is stacked under your right knee – this may mean you need to use your right hand to move your foot forward.
Place your back knee down on the mat well behind your hip. Be sure to pad your knee with a blanket if you have any discomfort or pain in your knee. Untuck the toes of your back foot and press the top of this foot into the mat.
On an inhale, lift your torso and bring your hands to rest on your right thigh. Allow your hips to shift forward in space slightly. Now, press your front heel into the mat, press your hands down into your thigh and gently draw your lower belly in and up.
Isometrically draw your right heel back and your left knee forward. Allow your shoulders to soften down away from your ears. Stay here for 5 deep breaths then either transition back to Downward Facing Dog and repeat with your left foot forward.
King Arthur Pose Variation
Optional prop: 1 blanket
Starting in Low Crescent Lunge with your right foot forward and your hands on your thighs, set your Dristi (gaze) on a point in front of you to help with your balance. When you feel steady and stable, bend your back knee and reach back with your right hand to catch the outside of your back foot.
Keep the heel of your front foot rooting into the mat and your lower belly gently drawing in and up. Lift your sternum, widen across your collar bones and gently roll your shoulder heads back in space. Stay here for a few breaths.
If you feel stable here and your breath is steady, consider reaching back with your left hand to catch the inner edge of your back foot. Maintain the gentle drawing in and up of your lower belly, the width across your chest and the shoulder heads drawing back in space. Press your foot back into your hands and maintain a lift in your sternum.
Stay for 5 full rounds of breath. To come out of the pose, release one hand at a time back to your thigh, then hands to the floor. Step back to Downward Facing Dog and repeat on your second side.
Wide-Legged Forward Fold with Variations
Optional props: 2 blocks
Turn to face the long side of your mat and step your feet 3 ½ – 4 feet apart. Make sure the outer edges of your feet are parallel with the short edges of your mat.
Place your hands on your hips and micro-bend your knees. Roll your shoulders open while drawing your elbows towards one another.
Press down through your feet and straighten the legs by engaging your quadriceps, the fronts of the thighs. Maintain this work in the legs and, as you inhale, lift through the crown of your head, lengthening your spine, specifically the front of your torso.
Keep this length as you exhale and hinge forward from the hips placing your hands on the floor (or blocks) directly under your shoulders. Keep the back of the neck long and evenly distribute the weight between the front and back of your feet.
From here, come up onto your fingertips and begin to walk your hands forward keeping them shoulder-distance apart. You may feel like you are in a very wide Downward Facing Dog. Maintain the connection of your heels pressing into your mat and your quadriceps engaged and lifting. Now, let your head release as you bring your ears in line with your upper arms.
Stay here for 5 – 10 full rounds of breath. To come out of the pose, walk your hands back underneath your shoulders. Micro-bend your knees, bring your hands to your hips and, on an inhale, slowly rise to stand. Step your feet together.
Garland Pose – Low Squat
Optional props: 2 blocks
Come to stand with your feet slightly wider than your hips. Inhale as you lift your arms up overhead and as you exhale, gently bend your knees and fold forward bringing your hands to the mat or to blocks. Keeping your hands on the floor, angle your toes out and your heels in and sit down into a squat. Do your best to keep your heels pressing down into your mat. If they lift off of the floor, you can place a rolled blanket or towel under your heels. You may also place a block underneath your seat for added support.
Bring your thighs wider than your torso and press your palms together in front of your heart. Press your outer upper arms into your inner legs and resist by pressing your legs back into your arms.
Ground down through your heels as lift your sternum and lift up through the crown of your head. Stay here for 5 full rounds of breath. To come out of the pose, release your hands to the mat, press down through your feet as you lift your hips and come back into a gentle forward fold. Bring your hands to your hips and, on an inhale, rise to stand.
Optional props: 2 blocks and rolled blanket or towel
Come down onto your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Bring your knees together and your feet together. Tuck all 10 of your toes under and do your best to keep your big toe knuckles and your inner ankles together.
Slowly begin to sit back and down onto your heels. You may need to keep your hands on the floor (or raise them onto blocks) or, if it is available, rest your hands on your thighs and bring your torso upright aligning your shoulders over your hips. Your heels will most likely want to splay apart so continue to hug your inner ankles towards each other.
Lift and lengthen through your spine and allow your shoulders to soften down away from your ears. Stay here for 5- 8 full cycles of breath.
Warrior 3 Variation
Come to stand in mountain pose at the top of your mat and bring your hands to rest on your hips. Set your Dristi (gaze) at a point in front of you and step your left foot back about 1 – 1 ½ feet so you are balancing on the ball of your back foot.
Bring your palms together in front of your heart. Press your left leg straight and strong, tone your lower belly and lift your chest. Sense a straight line of energy running from the crown of your head down to your left heel. Stay here for a full round of breath.
Take a soft bend into your right knee, begin to shift your weight into your right leg and lift the left leg up and back behind you. Hinge forward at your hips bringing your torso parallel to the floor. Begin to press back through the heel of your lifted foot and energetically move the crown of your head forward in space. Keep your hips squared to the floor and, once again, sense a straight line of energy running from the crown of your head down to your lifted left heel. Feel free to keep your standing leg slightly bent or begin to straighten it. Stay here for 5 full rounds of breath.
To come out of the pose, simultaneously lift your chest and lower your back leg until the foot meets the floor. Bring your hands back to your hips and step forward bringing the feet together once again in mountain pose.
Standing Figure 4
Begin standing with your feet hip-distance apart and your hands on your hips. Shift your weight into your right leg and bring your left knee up towards your belly.
Begin to bend your standing knee as you shift weight into your heel and cross your left ankle above your right kneecap. Be sure to keep your lifted foot flexed drawing your toes back towards your shin.
Bring your palms together at your heart center. If you feel unstable here, place your hands onto the back of a chair or counter in front of you. Gradually sit your hips lower keeping your chest lifted and your collar bones wide. Stay for 5 full rounds of breath.
For more side body and shoulder opening, consider stretching the arms up alongside your ears keeping the sides of the neck soft. To come out of the pose, bring your hands back to your hips. Simultaneously straighten your standing leg and bring your left knee back up and in towards your belly. Stay here for a full breath then step your lifted foot down and repeat on the second side.