I’ve toyed with the idea of offering a runner’s yoga class, but I keep stopping myself. There’s a part of me that resists the concept from an ethical standpoint. I don’t really believe that runners need a different form of yoga. There is not one group of muscles, bones, or emotional states that pertains to running more than any other. Runners stand to benefit greatly from yoga, and they should just do yoga.
But there are ways one could practice after a run that are more beneficial than others. Because running is a vigorous, heating activity, poses with support allow for longer, more passive release and are very beneficial. One doesn’t necessarily need to start with heating poses, such as standing postures, following a run. Because the calves and thighs are used so strongly in running, a five minute virasana, with height as needed under the buttock bones, and a rolled mat between the calves and thighs, is really nice for runners. The front of the thigh is allowed to lengthen, the low back can soften, and the shins receive some nice pressure from the floor, in effect massaging them. I’d suggest moving on to supta virasana for 3-5 minutes, depending on what you can handle (some could handle more than that). Supta virasana increases the effects of virasana, but allows for greater chest opening – and since many runners collapse their chests, this is very helpful. You should learn these poses in person from a skilled teacher.
Runners who have tried these poses tell me they get some relief from shin splints and hip tightness that come from running. They are only the tip of the iceberg, but a nice place to start. I ran through my 20s and became very tight from lack of stretching. I’d suggest leaving some time after your runs to stretch and restore, but I understand that time is limited. But my feeling is that you’ll recover much better with at least 15 -20 minutes of yoga.
Here is one possible routine
virasana 5 min
supta virasana 5 min
uttanasana 3-5 min
forward sukasana 1-2 min each crossing
viparita karani 5 min or longer time permitting
Practical use of a list like this relies on information you’ve received from a qualified teacher. Give yourself some time to learn the basic mechanics of poses before launching into super-long holds. But please let me know if you try these ideas, and if they work for you.