Cool Down, Stretch Out: The Postrun Yoga Sequence You Need

Cool Down| Stretch Out: The Postrun Yoga Sequence You Need

After a tough run| this yoga sequence is the perfect way to cool down. By targeting the legs| lower back| and hips| these poses stretch all the areas that need special attention after running. And since the muscles are already warmed up| it’s the primetime to work on extending flexibility.

| Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog lays a strong| active foundation for the rest of your practice:

  • Begin on your hands and knees; your wrists should be underneath your shoulders| and your knees should be underneath your hips.
  • Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips| coming into an upside down “V”” shape called Downward Facing Dog.
  • Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for five breaths.
  • Traditionally| this pose is done during Sun Salutation A| so you can also come into it from Upward Facing Dog.

| Warrior 1

Warrior 1 will give a big stretch to your hip flexors:

  • From Downward Facing Dog| step your left foot forward between your hands. Turn your right heel in| press into your feet| and lift your torso up. You want your left foot to be slightly to the right of the center of your mat (not directly in front of your right heel).
  • Once your hips are square| lift your arms up| and press your palms together. Draw your shoulder blades down towards your hips and gaze up toward your hands.
  • Stay here for five breaths. Then come back to Downward Facing Dog| step your right foot forward and do Warrior 1 on the other side| and come back to Downward Dog.

| Sugar Cane

Sugarcane Pose is an essential asana for any runner who needs to give her legs and back a little love:

  • After you’ve completed Warrior 1 on both sides| you’ll be in Downward Facing Dog.
  • From here| step your left foot forward between your hands| and float into Half Moon Pose with your left hand planted firmly on the floor and your right leg lifted in the air. Stay for a few breaths to relax into the posture.
  • On your inhale| bend your right leg in toward your chest. On the exhale| reach back for your right foot with your right arm. Your right hand will catch the top of your right foot.
  • Once you’ve got a firm grip and you’re stabilized in the pose| imagine you’re kicking back. Press the top of your right foot into your right.
  • Hold for five breaths before releasing the right foot back into Half Moon Pose. Return the foot to the floor| and try it on the other side.

| Wide-Legged Forward Bend C

Wide-Legged Forward Bend C is a perfect pose to alleviate any stress in the back of your body. After any tough cardio| your legs will appreciate this posture:

  • From Sugarcane Pose| come back to standing. Stand with your feet three to four feet apart| turning heels out slightly wider than toes.
  • Bring your arms behind your back| clasping your fingers and pressing the heels of your palms together in a fist.
  • Fold forward| hinging at your hips| drawing the crown of your head and your hands toward the floor. Relax your toes| and try to shift the weight of your hips forward so they’re in line with your feet.
  • Stay here for five deep breaths. Then press into your feet| engage your quads| and inhale as you stand up.

| Hero Pose

Hero Pose is a contemplative posture that really stretches your quadriceps:

  • From Wide-Legged Forward Bend C| come to kneel on your mat with your knees together. Separate your feet| so you can sit down on the ground in between them.
  • Use your hands to roll your calves away from your thighs. Curl the arches of your feet around the curve of your bum| so your toes are pointing behind you and slightly toward one another.
  • Rest your hands on your thighs| press your palms together in front of your chest| or raise your hands overhead. Stay here for five deep breaths.

| Butterfly

Butterfly Pose opens up the back and inner thighs:

  • From Hero Pose| sit on your bottom. Bend both knees| and bring your feet together.
  • Using your hands| open your feet up like a book| pressing your knees toward the floor with your elbows. If you want more of a stretch| then extend your arms out in front of you.
  • Stay here for five breaths.

| Legs Up the Wall

Tight legs and stiff lower backs will find comfort in this simple but important posture| Legs Up the Wall:

  • After Butterfly Pose| grab your mat| and move it toward the closest wall.
  • Sit sideways| and position yourself a few inches away from a wall. On your exhale| swing your hips 90 degrees to bring legs up the wall.
  • Allow your shoulders and head to rest lightly on the floor| relax your arms at your sides| and close your eyes.
  • Keep your legs firm against the wall| but don’t force anything in this pose. If it feels uncomfortable on your lower back| then move a few more inches away from the wall.

4 Desk Stretches to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Tension

4 Desk Stretches to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Tension

Sitting at a desk for hours on end, staring at your computer screen, and scrunching your shoulders as you type can create a stiff neck and tense shoulders, or even a headache. Take a break and do these four stretches at your desk to offer some stress relief.

| Behind the Back Neck Stretch

This easy move offers a deep stretch in the sides of your neck.

  • Clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head. Sitting with a tall spine, ground your hips firmly into your seat. Begin to gently press your hands toward your thighs, tucking your chin into your chest. As you press down, use your hands to gently pull your head away from your shoulders. This will intensify the stretch even more.
  • Hold here for at least 30 seconds, and then slowly lift your head up and release your hands.

| Seated Clasping Neck Stretch

Stretch the upper back and neck with one subtle move.

  • Clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head. Sitting with a tall spine, ground your hips firmly into your seat. Begin to gently press your hands toward your thighs, tucking your chin into your chest. As you press down, use your hands to gently pull your head away from your shoulders. This will intensify the stretch even more.
  • Hold here for at least 30 seconds, and then slowly lift your head up and release your hands.

| Reverse Arch Stretch

We love this move that opens the chest, shoulders, and front of your neck.

  • Sit on the very edge of your chair. Reach your hands behind you and hold on to the back of the chair. Press your chest forward, arching your spine. If it feels comfortable, let your head fall back slightly to open through the front of the neck.
  • Continue to breathe, feeling the front of your body open up as you extend backward. Hold this position for 30 seconds or as long as you want. Then slowly lift your head up, straighten your spine, and release hold of the chair.

| Triceps Stretch

Tight triceps will appreciate this quick stretch.

  • Reach your left arm over your head, placing your left hand on the front of your right elbow.
  • Gently pull your right elbow back until you feel a little tension
  • Release your right elbow and lower your right arm to your side.
  • Bend your left elbow and repeat the stretch with your left arm.

4 Desk Stretches to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Tension

4 Desk Stretches to Relieve Neck and Shoulder Tension

Sitting at a desk for hours on end| staring at your computer screen| and scrunching your shoulders as you type can create a stiff neck and tense shoulders| or even a headache. Take a break and do these four stretches at your desk to offer some stress relief.

| Behind the Back Neck Stretch

This easy move offers a deep stretch in the sides of your neck.

  • Clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head. Sitting with a tall spine| ground your hips firmly into your seat. Begin to gently press your hands toward your thighs| tucking your chin into your chest. As you press down| use your hands to gently pull your head away from your shoulders. This will intensify the stretch even more.
  • Hold here for at least 30 seconds| and then slowly lift your head up and release your hands.

| Seated Clasping Neck Stretch

Stretch the upper back and neck with one subtle move.

  • Clasp your hands and bring both palms to the back of your head. Sitting with a tall spine| ground your hips firmly into your seat. Begin to gently press your hands toward your thighs| tucking your chin into your chest. As you press down| use your hands to gently pull your head away from your shoulders. This will intensify the stretch even more.
  • Hold here for at least 30 seconds| and then slowly lift your head up and release your hands.

| Reverse Arch Stretch

We love this move that opens the chest| shoulders| and front of your neck.

  • Sit on the very edge of your chair. Reach your hands behind you and hold on to the back of the chair. Press your chest forward| arching your spine. If it feels comfortable| let your head fall back slightly to open through the front of the neck.
  • Continue to breathe| feeling the front of your body open up as you extend backward. Hold this position for 30 seconds or as long as you want. Then slowly lift your head up| straighten your spine| and release hold of the chair.

| Triceps Stretch

Tight triceps will appreciate this quick stretch.

  • Reach your left arm over your head| placing your left hand on the front of your right elbow.
  • Gently pull your right elbow back until you feel a little tension
  • Release your right elbow and lower your right arm to your side.
  • Bend your left elbow and repeat the stretch with your left arm.

Got Tight Hips? Then Do These

Got Tight Hips? Then Do These

This sequence of Pigeon pose variations are sure to loosen up hips made tight from running or simply sitting all day. Begin with your right knee forward| and then repeat on the other side.

| Pigeon

  • From Down Dog| inhale to draw your right knee forward between the hands. Exhale to adjust the front leg so you feel an opening in the right hip and left hip flexor| but not so much that you feel pain.
  • Rest your hands on your hips or inhale to raise the arms in the air| gazing at the palms with relaxed shoulders.
  • Breathe deeply for five breaths.

| Rotated Pigeon

  • From Pigeon| exhale to lower the left shoulder to the floor in front of your shin. Extend your left arm| and rest your cheek on your right hand.
  • Enjoy this twist for five breaths.

| Pigeon Twist

  • From Rotated Pigeon| inhale to lift the torso up and bend your left knee.
  • Reach for your left foot with your right hand and wrap your left fingers around the top of your right thigh.
  • Gaze over the left shoulder| holding for five breaths.

| Pigeon Crescent

  • From Pigeon Twist| release your left fingers and place the top of your foot in the crook of your left elbow.
  • Keep your left elbow bent to hold your foot in place| and raise your right arm overhead. If you can| hold the right wrist with your left hand.
  • Enjoy this pose for five breaths.

| Half King Pigeon

  • From Pigeon Crescent| release your hands| keeping the back knee bent.
  • Turn your torso to face forward| and interlace your fingers behind you. Bend your left knee and hook the foot in the space between your clasped hands.
  • Actively press the left foot away from you to deepen the stretch in the chest and shoulders.
  • Breathe deeply for five full breaths.

| Double Pigeon

  • From Half King Pigeon| release your clasped hands and gently swing your left leg forward.
  • Bend your left knee and place it on top of your right leg so your knees| shins| and ankles are stacked. Keeping the shins parallel| flex the feet to feel a stretch in the calves.
  • Press your fingertips into the floor behind your pelvis or to make this pose more intense| place your hands in front of your shins and walk them out as far as you can| folding your chest over your legs.
  • Enjoy this stretch for five breaths.

The Amount of Calories You Actually Burn in Yoga

Deciding if a workout is worthwhile shouldn’t be based on how many calories you burn; there are other factors to consider, like if you got your heart rate up, improved your balance and strength, or amped up energy levels. Because yoga makes me stronger and more flexible, it really doesn’t matter that much how many calories I burn, but out of curiosity, I thought I’d see how my classes stack up in the calorie department thanks to Health Status’s calorie calculator.

Type of Yoga Calories burned(1 hour / 150 lb. person)

4. Hatha Yoga1893. Ashtanga Yoga3512. Bikram4771. Vinyasa594

I was really shocked to see Vinyasa yoga as the type of yoga that burns the most calories. I assumed it would have been Bikram because you sweat so much in hot yoga. Contrary to popular belief, as we’ve already learned, don’t rely on sweat as a gauge of how intense an exercise is. A combination of heart rate and perceived effort are much better indicators of how hard you are working and how much energy you are expending.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria Del Rio

The Amount of Calories You Actually Burn in Yoga

Deciding if a workout is worthwhile shouldn’t be based on how many calories you burn; there are other factors to consider| like if you got your heart rate up| improved your balance and strength| or amped up energy levels. Because yoga makes me stronger and more flexible| it really doesn’t matter that much how many calories I burn| but out of curiosity| I thought I’d see how my classes stack up in the calorie department thanks to Health Status’s calorie calculator.

Type of Yoga Calories burned(1 hour / 150 lb. person)

4. Hatha Yoga1893. Ashtanga Yoga3512. Bikram4771. Vinyasa594

I was really shocked to see Vinyasa yoga as the type of yoga that burns the most calories. I assumed it would have been Bikram because you sweat so much in hot yoga. Contrary to popular belief| as we’ve already learned| don’t rely on sweat as a gauge of how intense an exercise is. A combination of heart rate and perceived effort are much better indicators of how hard you are working and how much energy you are expending.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Maria Del Rio

8 Reasons Yoga Beats the Gym

Working out does’t always mean jumping on a treadmill. Let Shape school you on the benefits of yoga.

By nature, I am not a comparer. Everything has its plusses and minuses in my book (except, of course, yoga which is all plusses!). So, while I am not anti-gym, I do think that yoga kicks the gym’s derri¨¨re on every level, and you can kick your own (butt, that is) in yoga, literally, if you feel like it!

The Best Yoga Poses for Flat Abs

People are always curious as to “what else I do” to “work out” other than yoga. The answer? Nothing! Yoga is everything my body needs to function at it’s absolute best. Here’s why:

It’s efficient! Why would I waste so much time at the gym working each part of my body separately when I can connect all of the dots and do it all at once with yoga? No amount of lifting weights is going to make my arms as strong as holding up my own body weight in yoga. Also, practically everything you do in yoga is engaging your core, from core-centric poses to moving from pose to pose, using your core to stabilize your body. And in different inversions and arm balances, yoga allows you to raise your heartbeat, strengthen your muscles, and lengthen them out all at once. How’s that for efficiency?

See more reasons yoga is better than the gym after the break!7 Wacky Yoga Styles: Weird or Worth a Try?

It can count as cardio. All you have to do is try a few sun salutations or any flow at a good, steady pace, matching your breath to your movement. Or, if you are a bit more adventurous, try some Kundalini kriyas (like the Kundalini frogs in the step-by-step breakdown of shoulder press pose.)

10 Yoga Poses That Increase Metablism

Yoga is not a competitive sport! I prefer yoga to the gym as I steer clear of anything that involves pitting myself against others. Isn’t there enough competition in work and in life in general? While some people thrive on trying to be the fastest in spin class or trying to run longer than the woman on the treadmill next to them, in yoga it doesn’t matter what any one else is doing. There is no comparing or competing because there is only you.

It saves money. In fact, yoga doesn’t have to cost a penny. All you need to practice is you. You can wear any clothes that allow you to move, and you don’t even need a yoga mat: grass and carpet work just fine. If you want some inspiration, there are plenty of great, inexpensive yoga DVDs or free online videos.

You can do it anywhere. With no equipment necessary, it doesn’t matter if you are at home, at your office, on the road¡ªor even in the streets of NYC, as in the SHAPE Yoga Anywhere videos. So long as you have the desire, you can strike a few poses.

Yoga will help you lose weight. Practicing yoga changes your mind: It changes the way you approach life, your body, and eating. Yoga shows you how to appreciate your body for all of the amazing things that it can do for you and points you in the direction of wanting to fill your body with the best possible fuel rather than processed junk food. And changing your mind about your body and the foods you feed it will be a much more effective weight-loss tool than burning a bunch of calories in an aggressive kick-boxing class and then mindlessly plowing through equal or more calories later that day.

Hello, variety. Yoga can be different every single day, if you want it to be. Want a challenge? Throw some arm balances and inversions into your practice. Need to focus? Try a few balance poses sequentially on the same foot. Or if you’re seeking relaxation, hang out in pigeon, a few seated forward folds, and a restorative backbend.

No injuries. In yoga, you learn to unite your body and mind. This allows you to move with ease and pay attention to how your body is feeling at all times, so you move in a way that feels good for you and not one that puts you in places your body doesn’t want to be. The result? An injury-free, strong, healthy, whole you.

In all fairness, I realize that this is a pretty one-sided argument (okay, a totally one-sided argument). But, for those who ask, “What else you need other than yoga?” I say: If you are going to chose one over the other, chose the one that saves you time, saves you money, makes you feel great, and helps you lose weight.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

8 Reasons Yoga Beats the Gym

Working out does’t always mean jumping on a treadmill. Let Shape school you on the benefits of yoga.

By nature| I am not a comparer. Everything has its plusses and minuses in my book (except| of course| yoga which is all plusses!). So| while I am not anti-gym| I do think that yoga kicks the gym’s derri¨¨re on every level| and you can kick your own (butt| that is) in yoga| literally| if you feel like it!

The Best Yoga Poses for Flat Abs

People are always curious as to “what else I do” to “work out” other than yoga. The answer? Nothing! Yoga is everything my body needs to function at it’s absolute best. Here’s why:

It’s efficient! Why would I waste so much time at the gym working each part of my body separately when I can connect all of the dots and do it all at once with yoga? No amount of lifting weights is going to make my arms as strong as holding up my own body weight in yoga. Also| practically everything you do in yoga is engaging your core| from core-centric poses to moving from pose to pose| using your core to stabilize your body. And in different inversions and arm balances| yoga allows you to raise your heartbeat| strengthen your muscles| and lengthen them out all at once. How’s that for efficiency?

See more reasons yoga is better than the gym after the break!7 Wacky Yoga Styles: Weird or Worth a Try?

It can count as cardio. All you have to do is try a few sun salutations or any flow at a good| steady pace| matching your breath to your movement. Or| if you are a bit more adventurous| try some Kundalini kriyas (like the Kundalini frogs in the step-by-step breakdown of shoulder press pose.)

10 Yoga Poses That Increase Metablism

Yoga is not a competitive sport! I prefer yoga to the gym as I steer clear of anything that involves pitting myself against others. Isn’t there enough competition in work and in life in general? While some people thrive on trying to be the fastest in spin class or trying to run longer than the woman on the treadmill next to them| in yoga it doesn’t matter what any one else is doing. There is no comparing or competing because there is only you.

It saves money. In fact| yoga doesn’t have to cost a penny. All you need to practice is you. You can wear any clothes that allow you to move| and you don’t even need a yoga mat: grass and carpet work just fine. If you want some inspiration| there are plenty of great| inexpensive yoga DVDs or free online videos.

You can do it anywhere. With no equipment necessary| it doesn’t matter if you are at home| at your office| on the road or even in the streets of NYC| as in the SHAPE Yoga Anywhere videos. So long as you have the desire| you can strike a few poses.

Yoga will help you lose weight. Practicing yoga changes your mind: It changes the way you approach life| your body| and eating. Yoga shows you how to appreciate your body for all of the amazing things that it can do for you and points you in the direction of wanting to fill your body with the best possible fuel rather than processed junk food. And changing your mind about your body and the foods you feed it will be a much more effective weight-loss tool than burning a bunch of calories in an aggressive kick-boxing class and then mindlessly plowing through equal or more calories later that day.

Hello| variety. Yoga can be different every single day| if you want it to be. Want a challenge? Throw some arm balances and inversions into your practice. Need to focus? Try a few balance poses sequentially on the same foot. Or if you’re seeking relaxation| hang out in pigeon| a few seated forward folds| and a restorative backbend.

No injuries. In yoga| you learn to unite your body and mind. This allows you to move with ease and pay attention to how your body is feeling at all times| so you move in a way that feels good for you and not one that puts you in places your body doesn’t want to be. The result? An injury-free| strong| healthy| whole you.

In all fairness| I realize that this is a pretty one-sided argument (okay| a totally one-sided argument). But| for those who ask| “What else you need other than yoga?” I say: If you are going to chose one over the other| chose the one that saves you time| saves you money| makes you feel great| and helps you lose weight.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography

The Yoga Sequence That Makes Sex More Fun

The Yoga Sequence That Makes Sex More Fun

What you’ve heard is true: yogis do it better. With improved flexibility| body awareness| stress reduction| and controlled breathing (an essential for any woman who has difficulty reaching the big “O””)| yogis are able to translate the many gifts they’ve learned on the mat to the bedroom.

If you can’t let loose in certain positions| or you constantly say “”ow!”” when you and your partner want to try something new| this short yoga sequence will alleviate those common issues. This relaxing yet energizing sequence brings special attention to your back| hips| and hip flexors u2014 three of the most common trouble zones that can lead to discomfort during sex. When all is said and done| you’ll be tempted to step off your mat and underneath the sheets . . . or on top of the sheets . . . or on the couch (you get the picture).

| Downward Facing Dog

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders| and your knees should be underneath your hips.
  • Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips| coming into an upside-down “”V”” shape called Downward Facing Dog.
  • Spread your fingers wide| and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms| and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for 10 breaths.

| Warrior 1

  • From Downward Facing Dog| step your right foot forward between your hands. Turn your left heel in slightly| press into your feet| and lift your torso up.
  • Keeping the front thigh parallel to the floor| raise your arms in the air and press your palms together. Draw your shoulder blades down toward your hips| and gaze up toward your hands.
  • Stay here for five breaths.

| Reverse Warrior

  • From Warrior 1| gently arch your back and rest your left hand on the back of your left leg. Raise your right arm overhead| feeling the stretch through the right side of the body. Make sure you continue to lower your hips and press your front knee forward so it’s directly over your right ankle.
  • Remain here for five breaths. Lift your torso up| place your hands on the floor| and move back into Down Dog.
  • Step your left foot forward| and perform Warrior 1 and Reverse Warrior on the other leg. Then step back to Downward Facing Dog.

| Standing Forward Bend

  • From Downward Facing Dog| slowly step forward to the top of your mat| let your feet meet your hands| and grab your big toes.
  • On your inhale| gaze forward with a flat back| and as you exhale| engage your abs| and fold forward. Tuck your chin in toward your chest| relax your shoulders| and extend the crown of your head toward the floor to create a long spine. Shift your weight forward onto your toes| straightening your legs as much as possible. Place your hands on the ground| fingertips lining up with your toes.
  • Hold here for five breaths| then plant your hands on the ground| and step back to Downward Facing Dog.

| Pigeon Pose

  • From Downward Facing Dog| step both feet together and bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer right leg is resting on the mat.
  • If your hips are more open| inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat.
  • Stay here with your hands resting on your hips or your right leg| or walk your hands out in front of you| allowing your torso to rest over your right knee.
  • Hold here| breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least 10 breaths. Once you’re ready| plant your hands on the floor and push your hips to the sky for a quick Downward Facing Dog or Three-Legged Dog.
  • Then step your left knee forward for Pigeon Pose on the other side| before stepping back to Downward Dog for five breaths.

| Intense East

  • From Downward Dog| drop your knees to the mat| and come to sit with your legs extended in front of you| toes touching. Place your palms behind your hips about six to eight inches away| with your fingers pointing toward your toes.
  • As you inhale| press into your hands and feet firmly| lifting your hips into the air. Lift them as high as you can so your spine is in a long line. Slowly release your head back| looking behind you and opening through your throat.
  • Stay here for five deep breaths| then lower your hips back to the floor.
  • | Extended Squat

    • From Intense East| lower your hips to the floor and sit up coming into an Extended Squat.
    • Release your hands to the floor| and walk them out in front of you| allowing your belly to fall between your knees.
    • Stay here for five deep breaths.

    | Boat Pose

    • Begin sitting on your mat. Lift your knees up to your chest and work on balancing on your sit bones (the bottom of your pelvis).
    • Keep your shins parallel to the ground (as shown)| draw your navel toward your spine| and work on slowly straightening your legs up. If your back starts to hunch| bring your shins back down.
    • Hold for five breaths.

    | Savasana

    • After Boat Pose| slowly roll back for a sweet Savasana. Lie on your back| and close your eyes. In order to relax and open your body fully| extend your arms a few inches away from the body| with your palms facing up.
    • Bring about 15 to 20 inches between your feet| allowing your feet to fall open with your toes pointing out. Actively shrug your shoulders and shoulder blades down toward your hips. Lengthen through your spine as much as possible| and try to press the small of your back into the floor.
    • After you’ve found a comfortable position| enjoy the stillness for five to 10 minutes.

Eliminate Annoying Body Aches With These Easy Yoga Poses

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