Partner Yoga for Runners
24 April 2020
As many of us settle in for another week of “Shelter in Place” we continue to make adjustments to our daily routines. Living with my partner means going on runs with her as is safe to do so and trying to keep our home strength and stretching sessions exciting. On a normal week you could find us hitting up our favorite yoga studio or Pilates class, but alas... Thankfully there are so many wonderful home workouts being shared online right now. Recently we thought about some partner yoga stretches for those of us hunkering down with a “bunker buddy”! So we’ve assembled a couple of our favorite running specific poses for friends, roommates and couples stuck inside together to try.
A couple quick notes before you start;
- Speak Up! – Letting your partner know how and what you’re feeling will allow them to not only protect you from getting hurt, but also help you to get the most out of the position!
- Teamwork makes the dream work – Don’t worry about who is stronger or can stretch further. Working together without an ego will serve both people exponentially.
- Skip the lotions and oils – The last thing you need is to grab your partners forearm only to slip off backwards into your coffee table!
- Have Fun – Smile, laugh and don’t take it too seriously. There are many poses to try and these are only a few to build upon as long as you’re having fun!
Stretch #1: Back to Back Backbend & Forward Fold
- Sitting back to back Partner 1 extends their legs in an L position. Partner 2 plants the soles of their feet on the ground with their knees bent.
- As Partner 1 begins to fold forward over their extended legs (fingertips twords their toes) Partner 2 slowly presses down and away with their feet into a gentle backbend, arching backwards over Partner 1.
- Partner 1 will rise easily and with control to switch positions. Their feet will come in to press off the ground while the legs of Partner 2 will extend long. As you become comfortable with these positions you can fluidly move back and forth from forward fold to backbend.
Benefits – In the forward fold you’ll release the back and loosen hamstrings while the backbend provides a great opening stretch for the chest and spine.
Stretch #2: Partner Seated Twist
- Begin seated cross-legged with your backs pressed into each other.
- Both partners look over their right shoulder as they sit tall with good posture.
- Rotating your trunk and shoulders together you both will rotate towards your right.
- Finally let your right hand find your partners left knee as your left-hand rests on your own right knee.
- As you exhale rotate back to center and on to the other side.
Benefits – With your backs pressed together you’ll keep the integrity of a long straight spine as well as using you partner to deepen the stretch.
Stretch #3: Standing Shoulder Stretch
- Stand facing you partner with you arms extended in front of you so that your fingertips touch.
- Both partners raise and rotate their arms until they are overhead in an upward salute with palms facing each other.
- Keeping a long and straight spine begin to hinge at the hips and fold forward on your exhale until your hands rest on your partners shoulders or upper back. You may need to play with the distance between the two of you depending on height.
- Eyes looking at the ground will keep your neck long. Pressing gently into your partners back will help their fold as well as stretch your chest.
Benefits – A great stretch for shoulders, hamstrings and chest this pose is similar to Puppy Dog, but a little gentler.
Stretch #4: Twisted Chair Pose
- Stand facing each other close enough so that you can securely grab your partners hand or inner forearm.
- Grab each other’s right hand/inner forearm as you open your left arm and twist towards your left.
Benefit - Keeping your hips square to each other will allow the entire upper body to rotate and open up. Clasping hands with your partner and leaning back allows you to shift your weight underneath you and elongate the spin for a deeper supported twist.
Stretch #5: Standing Backbend and Cobra
- Partner 1 lies on their stomach with arms long by their side.
- Partner 2 straddles the thighs of Partner 1 facing the opposite direction.
- Partner 1 begins to lift their arms back and upwards as Partner 2 squats down to grasp their hands and slowly stand back up.
- Partner 1’s torso will begin to lift off the ground for a backbend. With their arms pulled backwards Partner 2 can press their hips forward for his or her own backbend.
Benefits – Backbends for everyone! Take your time with this stretch, as everyone’s flexibility is different. Communication is key.
Take your time and ease into these poses. These days most of us are sitting a bit more than usual, resulting in tighter backs and hips. Be careful and show some love to those hamstrings, psoas and low-back muscles that tighten up when sitting! If you haven’t yet incorporated a stretching routine to compliment your running maybe now is the time. Use this as a kickstart to find what your body needs the most and which stretches work best for you.
By – Andrew Maxwell