Whether you are an athlete on the run, on the bike, or anywhere in the great outdoors this summer, it’s easy to fit some yoga into your training sessions.
Incorporating yoga into your training schedule doesn’t mean you have to attend an hour-long class in a studio. Tagging a shorter yoga routine on directly before or after your workout is an efficient way to make sure you get some stretching and focus work in on a regular basis, wherever you are. Plus, yoga in the outdoors can be wonderfully invigorating and relaxing.
The yoga sequence illustrated here can be used to start moving and warming up your body before a workout, or as a deeper stretching session after your training.
You can do this short routine in shoes or bare feet, wherever you are, no mat required. It incorporates strength, flexibility and mental focus. The poses move you through lunges to stretch hips and the front of the body, hip openers, stretches for the legs and side of the body, mobilisation and lengthening of the spine, and balance work. All in a short and simple routine.
Do all the poses on one side of the body, and then change sides and repeat; this completes one full round.
Before your workout: Flow through the sequence holding each pose for three to five breaths. Do three to five complete rounds as a warm up.
After your workout: As your muscles will be warm, move more slowly through the sequence, holding each pose for thirty seconds to allow the stretch to deepen through the body. Do two or three complete rounds.
As you move through the sequence, focus on maintaining a long easy breath. Pay close attention to how you move between the poses, making your transitions as graceful as you can and engaging some core support to stabilise. As you hold each pose, pay attention to your alignment, and allow your body to open into each pose with a balance of ease and stability.
1. Begin standing in mountain pose.
2. Inhaling, raise your arms and lift your right knee. As you exhale lunge your right leg back long behind you, keeping heel raised. Lean your body to angle forward and bend your left knee to come into arrow lunge. Reach long through your fingertips and your back heel.
3. Inhale your body upright to crescent lunge, with your arms extending to the sky. This pose opens the front of the body. Variations can include moving your spine towards more of a backbend, and/or clasping your hands low behind you and extending your arms away to stretch the front of the shoulders.
4. From crescent lunge with both arms raised, lower your left arm down beside you while stretching up more through the right arm. Slowly lean to your left for a crescent lunge side stretch.
5. Inhale back into crescent lunge, raising both arms overhead. As you exhale split your arms, right arm forward, left arm back, and twist to your left for a twisting crescent lunge. Focus on keeping your hips level and growing your spine long as you twist with each breath.
6. Inhale back through crescent lunge. Then exhaling, continue twisting the opposite way, arms splitting forward and back, to come to warrior two pose. Your front leg remains bent, knee over the ankle. Your back foot plants down strongly, working your leg to straight. Open your body to the side.
7. Turn back to the front. Step your back foot in closer to your front foot, with the back toes pointing almost forward, turning outwards just a little. Straighten both legs, square your hips to face forward. Fold your arms behind you, either holding your elbows or with hands in prayer position. Inhale your spine long, then exhale fold your upper body forward over the front leg. Look to your front toes. Focus on drawing the hip of the front leg away from the toes, targeting a hamstring stretch in pyramid pose.
8. Slowly shift your weight onto your front leg as you lift your back leg out behind you and lean forward into warrior three pose (aka ‘Superman’). The arms can be anywhere you need to help with balance – on your hips or to the side.
9. With control, stand tall again, bringing your right leg forward and through to a bent knee raise. Then lower the right leg back to stand in mountain pose. Repeat on the other side.