In celebration of the Boston Marathon today I wanted to share the yoga pose that I feel has really helped me the most as a runner!
When I first began running a few years ago I had a lot of trouble with my piriformis, a small muscle located in the gluteal region – also known as runner’s “pain in the butt”!
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana or one-legged pigeon pose is a great way to target the piriformis muscle and done regularly this pose can help alleviate the tightness and pain that runners sometimes experience.
Since this pose is such a deep hip opener it should only be done AFTER you've already done some basic yoga poses that warm up and stretch the muscles in this area to be ready for this pose.
- Begin in a low lunge position (I suggest staying here for a few breaths to begin to open up the hips and hamstrings before moving into the deeper stretch)
- From the lunge, move your front foot towards the opposite wrist and then lower your hip until you feel a gentle stretch in your hamstrings, glutes and piriformis
**Be sure to move slowly and only go to the point that you feel a gentle stretch!**
Your hips should stay as squared as possible and your hip, knee and ankle of your back leg should stay in line with each other. If your hip does not come to the ground you can put a yoga block, a folded towel or blanket or even a pillow under it so that it's grounded and you can stay comfortably in the pose without over doing the stretch.
To deepen the stretch you can fold forward over your front leg if it’s comfortable.
For a modified version that is gentler on the knee and a less intense version of the stretch, you can do “reclined pigeon”:
- Begin on your back, knees bent, feet flat on the floor
- Cross your right ankle on top of your left knee so that your legs create a “figure 4”
- To deepen the stretch you can lift the bottom foot off the floor, straighten that leg up and reach your hands around your straight leg to hold behind your thigh
Done regularly, pigeon pose is a great way to keep that pesky piriformis muscle happy as you build up your mileage!
Keep running and keep stretching!
Don’t forget you can join me for Yoga for Athletes every Thursday morning at 7am at Mashpee Fitness!
Blog post by Danielle Nardi.