Runner Strong Yoga: Pyramid Pose

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Most runners know they should do yoga. Most runners also think that means spending an hour in a yoga studio, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Even a few poses practiced regularly could mean the difference between an okay run and a good run. They call it a practice for a reason.

I am starting a new series called Runner Strong Yoga. Each month or so I’ll share one yoga pose that complements your running. I’ll share tips to do the pose correctly and fix any misalignments you might have. I’ll let you know what muscles the pose targets and any contraindications for the pose.

Fairytales and Fitness

Make sure your legs are very active (but don’t lock out or hyperextend your knees) and your back is parallel to the floor

Pyramid Pose: Good all around post run stretch
Pyramid Pose is actually a very accessible pose for most runners. It’s a standing pose that can easily be done before you even head home. Simply grab onto a tree, a wall, the trunk of your car, or a park bench. In addition to being a great hamstring and low back stretch, done right it can also help you strengthen your core and your legs.

Muscles Targeted

  • Lower Back
  • Hamstrings
  • Moderate hip stretch
  • Good allover body stretch

Contraindications

  • Be careful going too deeply into Pyramid Pose if you have low back issues
  • Be careful if you have hamstring injuries/issues
Make sure you’ve really engaged your core, your legs, are not overly rounding your back, or craning your neck up

Watch Out For

  • Feet not pressing evenly into the ground
  • Legs not straight and/or activated
  • Hips not level, side to side, up and down — or both!
  • Back rounding or dipping down (can you balance a coffee cup on your back?)
Having your hands on your hips can help you feel if your hips are in a neutral position
Make both feet are really placing into the ground/mat; thinking about pressing your front toe into the ground can help you really press down through your legs & feet

 

Holding onto blocks can help you to keep a straight back

How to Modify It
While this pose is great for beginners and experienced yogis, props can be a great addition to really give you the full benefit of the pose.

  • Prop your fingers up on blocks (no death grips, please!)
  • Practice with your hands pushing into a wall (or tree, or park bench if outside — even your treadmill!)
  • Place your hands on your hips or low back to see if your hips are level
  • If you find turning out your back foot bothers your knee, just keep the foot pointing straight ahead — but still keep it very active!

 

It’s okay if your heel pops off the ground with your back foot facing forward

 

Reverse prayer hands (hand come into prayer position at your back) can really help you open up across your shoulders and back. If that’s not available to you, you can try just holding onto your elbows behind your back.

Now let’s get into Pyramid Pose

  1. Standing at the top of your mat, legs hip width apart, step one leg back roughly the width of one leg. Both legs are straight, with just a slight microbend at the knees.
  2. Toes of the front leg point forward.
  3. Rotate the back leg out roughly 30 degrees, from the hip. If this bothers your knee, you can allow the heel of the back foot to come off the mat, or play with the angle of your foot until it’s comfortable for you.
  4. Press both feet firmly into the mat (if available to you), and really activate both legs so much that you feel a slight lift in your kneecaps.
  5. Feel your legs yearning towards each other and your big toe pressing firmly into your mat; this will help you balance.
  6. Draw your navel to your spine to activate your core.
  7. Think about lengthening toward the front of your mat as you slowly hinge forward from your hips until your back is parallel to the ceiling.
  8. Keep your gaze down and slightly forward (to the top of your mat if you’re on one); you want your neck in line with your spine.
  9. As you hold this pose for several breaths, think about your head and your tailbone continuing to move away from one another.
  10. To come out of the pose, slowly raise your head back towards the ceiling.
  11. Step your back foot forward to meet your front foot.
  12. Pause, notice if you feel differently side to side.
  13. Repeat Pyramid Pose on the second side.

Do you have a yoga pose you’d like to see featured here?

Do you have a favorite arm variation for Pyramid Pose?

If you try Pyramid Pose after a run, let me know how it felt!

18 thoughts on “Runner Strong Yoga: Pyramid Pose

  1. Great idea for getting yoga into your blog. I’m sure this will help many runners.

    I tend to prefer going to a class. In addition being social, unless I take a photo I do not know if I’m doing the pose correctly. In a class the instructor always walks around to make tweaks in each person’s pose.

    But maybe you will motivate me to do a pose now and then on my own.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ve only done a couple of workshops there, and they were small, but even then the teacher doesn’t do a lot of adjustments, although she’s a good teacher. I was going almost weekly to Radiance, until everything happened with my dad. The classes I was going to just always seem to be on days I am not here. 😔

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    1. Since the point of pyramid pose is a long spine, my guess is what you’re describing is either triangle or revolved triangle. The legs are very similar but the upper body is kind of on the side and the arms reach for the floor & ceiling. Or maybe side angle . . .

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    1. My shoulders are pretty tight too. For instance I can’t do a bind behind my back where the hands clasp — not even close! It may just be my anatomy but I’m not sure.

      You can also just hug your elbows instead of prayer hands.

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  2. I love that you’re starting a Runner Strong Yoga series. It will be helpful to so many of us. I would love to see you feature pigeon pose sometime. It’s a good one, but it’s hard for me and I would love to see your variations and modifications for tight runners like me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a brilliant idea for a regular series and, as someone who practises yoga myself, great – really great – instructions. Fabulous! I will try this one out after my run today – I have a handy wall in front of the house I can use for it.

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      1. Oh gosh – I told Claire all about this series, I said how we were both going to do it – then I forgot how to do it and all the instructions! I am so physically illiterate, I find it incredibly hard to remember and replicate physical movements and, it turns out, positions!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You’d have to print it out — believe me, I’m still working on remembering all those nuances myself!

        At some point I’ll probably offer some sort of PDF, but that won’t be for a long time.

        Just keep practicing. That’s what the practice is for!

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  4. Ooh I’m going to love this series. Thank you! I have a Yoga for Runners module but I find stills easier to learn from than a video.
    I really feel that integrating a few poses has helped enhance the PT exercises. My left leg is still a butthead, but I think it’s less so thanks to tree and downward dog, although that’s very much modified. Look forward to trying this one.

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