This week I’m thrilled to share with you an interview I did with my dear friend and yogi Jamie McCarthy. Jamie is the kind of individual who walks in a room and immediately illuminates it with her presence. She has that incredible authentic energy that you want to bottle and take with you wherever you go.
Jamie recently returned from a “find yourself” journey in Asia. During this time she spent several months exploring the amazing culture, completing her yoga teaching training and well simply put, just being AWESOME. Lucky for us she is back in Canada sharing her passion for yoga and meditation with our local community.
I had the opportunity to catch up with Jamie last week and talk about yoga and running. My goal was to find a way to understand how we can use yoga poses in post running recovery. As a runner, tight hamstrings, twisted ankles, sore knees, TFL problems have all been injuries that have come for a visit. Jamie shared with me 5 easy restorative poses that will help eliminate more unwanted injuries.
Joe: So, what can runners get out of yoga anyway?
Jamie: Since most people aren’t running with perfect form, the repetitive movement often leads to stiff joints and sore muscles. Performing a few post-run yoga postures can help to restore balance to your body, prevent injury, and develop skills to manage the mental demands of long-distance running.
Joe: That sounds like more than just stretching…what am I supposed to do with my mind then?
Jamie: Definitely. Practising yoga is about training your mind to notice sensations in your body without judging them as good or bad.
Joe: That sure sounds helpful. So, how do I turn a stretch into a yoga posture then?
Jamie: Just be aware of what you’re experiencing in the moment and keep breathing. Be less concerned with doing it perfectly and more concerned with listening to your body.
Joe: Well that breathing thing is tough for me. How can I become an all-star breather?
Jamie: Do yoga! And practice the standing side bend. This posture increases your breathing capacity by creating space between your ribs and strengthening your lungs. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and reach up and over with your hand, creating as long an arc as possible from your heel to your fingertips.
Joe: What about my hamstrings…I’d love to be able to touch my toes someday!
Jamie: You can get there by practising a standing forward bend after you run. Start from a standing position, bend your knees and slowly lift your tail-bone as your head lowers below your heart. Allow your upper body to be heavy and soft as the back side of your body lengthens. You’ll be getting up close and personal with your toes in no time!
Joe: And how about those almighty hips…they deserve a little TLC from carrying my legs around on all those long runs.
Jamie: They certainly do! Imbalances and tightness in your hips can be associated with an unmet desire for change and creativity. Here are two excellent postures for becoming aware of all that sticky stuff that’s holding you back.
The first one is a low lunge. Take a big step back with your right foot, lower your right knee to the floor and allow your right hip to sink forward. Consciously relax all the muscles around your hip. Place your hands on the floor for support and stay present with whatever thoughts or sensations come up.
The second one is Cobbler’s pose. Have a seat on the floor with the soles of your feet touching one another. Let your knees fall down to the floor as you slowly bend forward to bring your belly button toward your heels. Breathing is essential here.
Joe: I’m having trouble forcing my body into this pose.
Jamie: Just relax, hip-openers are about letting go and releasing, not about forcing anything.
Joe: Great, let’s clean out the junk then! Anything else that I should cover after a run?
Jamie: Yes! A flexible spine is key for an efficient running stride. Practising a twisting posture after a run helps to increase circulation to the spine and restore its original length. (FUN FACT: Marathon runners lose up to 1.5” of height after a 42km race.) My favourite twist can be done lying on your back with your arms out to the side. Bend your knees into your chest and allow them to fall to one side. Make any necessary adjustments so that you can be totally effortless in this posture.
Joe: Awesome. Thanks for these five simple post-run yoga postures Jamie! Oh, and how long do I hold them?
Jamie: Well Joe, they say the posture only starts when you want it to be over… (She laughs.) Stick with 30-60 seconds per side and you should be good.
60 seconds of pure joy I tell you. A big thanks to Jamie for taking the time to provide us with these easy to follow poses and for de-mystifying my yoga questions on breathing, mind sensations and technique.
Jamie has created a blog called “amillionmeditate” where she discuses the benefits of why athletes should meditate (among other things). The power of meditation is an intriguing topic! Who doesn’t want to bring a little more peace into their life?
*Photo credit goes to Jason Roberts – Thanks for the great pics!