4 Yoga Poses Every Runner Should be Doing

Written by: on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

About 40 percent of running injuries are knee injuries. Often the culprit: weak quads, hips, or glute muscles.

Whether you’re running the New York City Marathon or just love to run around your local park (or on the treadmill), add yoga to your workout mix to gain flexibility and help prevent back and knee injuries.

Sure, you probably feel great—and feel strong and healthy. But the truth is, you probably have muscular imbalances (this is common in even the fittest of athletes). What this means, your stronger muscles are overcompensating for weak muscles you may not be using when you run.

These muscular imbalances put the wrong kind of pressure on the joints, which can trigger injury, explains Brad Jones, a former U.S. Olympic physical therapist and strength conditioning coach (and founder of b Project), in Carlsbad, California.

Runners are also prone to injury, particularly in the knees, because running is a high-impact activity that gives your joints a pounding, says Manhattan-based physical medicine and rehab specialist Nadya Swedan, M.D., author of The Active Woman’s Health and Fitness Handbook. Runner’s muscles are also tight and short (and inflexible)—why yoga is the perfect balance to elongate and loosen the muscles.

We got a chance to talk to Kiley Holliday, a yoga instructor at Pure Yoga, in New York City, who recommends these four yoga poses for runners*. (She helps runners get ready for the New York City Marathon—and teaches a 6-week New York Road Runners (NYRR) Yoga for Runners series, in New York.) Something to keep in mind when it comes to yoga: never force yourself into a pose; stop when your body is telling you to stop. “Respect your body,” as my own yoga instructor, Elaine Coburn, tells our class.


Also called a Runner's Lunge, this pose stretches the thigh, hamstring, and groin muscles.

1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground.
2. Step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle. Allow the left knee to drop onto the mat and untuck the toes. Frame the right foot with the hands.
3. Begin to slowly walk the hands backwards while straightening the front leg. Stop when the left hip is directly in line over the left knee. Flex the right foot, and lean the torso forward while engaging the core.
4. Inch the right foot (while keeping the leg straight) towards the left side of the mat and roll onto the pinky toe edge of that foot. Walk the hands towards the right and look over the right shoulder.
5. If possible, bend the arms until the forearms are on the mat.
6. Repeat on the other leg.

Opens the hips, hamstrings, groins, and hip flexors—as well as the chest, shoulders, and neck.


1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground. Then, step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle.

2. Drop the left knee onto the mat and untuck the toes. Then, inch the right foot towards the very edge of the mat, turn it out about 45 degrees and roll onto the pinky toe side of the foot.

3. Attempt to drop the forearms down on the ground inside the foot. If the forearms don’t reach, place a block underneath them. Try to get more of the top of the left thigh onto the mat.

4. Bend the left knee and reach for the outer edge of it with the right hand. It may be necessary to come off the forearms in order to reach the back foot.


To improve balance, rest the thigh of the forward leg (if necessary) on a chair seat.

1. Start in a forward fold at the top of the mat, bending the knees enough so that the hands can comfortably touch the ground.
2. Step the left foot to the back of the mat, so that the right knee is in line over the right ankle. Allow the left knee to drop onto the mat and untuck the toes.
3. Bend the right knee and lean forward, attempting to melt the top of the left thigh onto the mat. However, don’t let the right knee come beyond the toes. Keep the hands on the top of the right thigh for stability, or engage the core and lift the arms into the air with the palms facing each other. Squeeze the butt to take pressure out of the lower back.
4. Repeat with the left foot forward.

Do this pose, and you'll stretch your spine, shoulders, hips, and hamstrings.

1. Begin in a low lunge with the right foot forward. The right knee should be directly in line over the ankle and the hands should frame the front foot.
2. Step the left foot in closer to the top of the mat, keep the hips square, and attempt to straighten the front leg. If the hamstring is too tight to straighten the leg completely with the hands on the ground, place yoga blocks under each hand. Pull the low belly in, allow the neck to relax, and imagine that the torso will begin to touch the right leg.
3. Repeat with the left foot forward.
* Always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program as you could get injured.


“Yoga, I love it but still have a lot to learn!”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Friday, March 30th, 2012

I aspire to this...

...and to this

...and to this

...and this!

My daughters, ages 8 and 6, can do some of these poses already. I have been regularly practicing yoga for a year and I still don’t have the strength to do any of them. But the fact that I’ve stuck to yoga—and practice it regularly now is progress. And I’m determined that someday I will be able to do these poses! Just wanted to share…

“How I conquer the #1 exercise excuse”: Weight Loss Diary

Written by: on Friday, March 16th, 2012

I have many excuses. The most common one: I can’t get to a gym. The hours are limited (true), I work too much (true), no child care (true), I have stuff at home to work out (true), it’s too far to drive (true), I don’t have time (true), I have no one to go with (often true).  So all those things are true but it is still an excuse.

Success is working around the stuff that’s holding you back, even if those things are valid.

Melissa Juliano Workout Room: Valerielatona.com

My inexpensive home gym!

This is a picture of my favorite room in my house: my yoga-plus studio. And my faithful workout partner: Pumba. I pop in a video of Rodney Yee and get transported to a stress-free yoga zone.  I love my basket for holding my yoga mats. It says “Namaste” and makes me happy. The decorations on the walls from my girls also make me happy. My daughters often do yoga with me and that make me very happy.

Lately, I have branched out to weight work. I know I don’t need any big equipment or space to give myself a great workout. Over the years I have employed a personal trainer at least 4 different times. I know what to do.

Thanks to Amazon Prime, I get free shipping even on heavy stuff! I have gradually acquired the large ball, an 8-lb medicine ball, a 10-lb cast iron kettle bell (much better than sand filled), and a pair of 5-lb hand weights.  I have a 15-lb weighted bar being shipped soon.

This was my workout today (I’ve attached videos to almost all if you’re interested in doing them yourself and need some how-to’s):

  1. Wall push-ups (working my way up to real push-ups)
  2. Chest press on the ball (with medicine ball)
  3. Chest flies on the ball (with hand weights)
  4. Squat thrusts
  5. Front-loaded squats (with kettle bell)
  6. High Knees (for a cardio burst)
  7. Vertical Balance Squats (with medicine ball)
  8. Front shoulder raise (with hand weights)
  9. Side shoulder raise (with hand weights)
  10. Bicep curl (with hand weights)
  11. Butt Kicks (for a cardio burst)
  12. Lunge holding hand weights, right and left
  13. Squats with hand weights at sides
  14. Hyperextension over ball
  15. Scissor kicks
  16. Triceps Overhead Extension (with medicine ball)
  17. Overhead triceps extension (sitting; I do it on the exercise ball)
  18. High Knees (cardio burst); see video above #6
  19. Jump rope (without the rope)
Home workout equipment: valerielatona.com

This is it: all I needed (plus a little motivation) for a great home workout!

This is one heck of a workout. The squat thrusts are just entirely painful and difficult. I did the moves in groups of 3 to 6 and then repeated for 2 sets. Each was 10 to 25 reps depending on the move. It took me exactly 43 minutes with music blaring. I was sweating, tired … empowered!  According to My Fitness Pal, I burned 557 calories for “circuit training, general.”

And to think I only needed about $80 worth of equipment, all of which can fit in a milk crate!


How do you react when you “wobble” in life?

Written by: on Friday, February 11th, 2011

When things aren’t going your way, when your boss doesn’t like the project you’re doing, when you get into a fight with your significant other, when your diet backfires and you gain 5 pounds: how do you respond? How does your body react?

I can tell you how I respond: I get panicked, I don’t breathe, and I don’t sleep—which worsens the problem tenfold. In a nutshell: my whole life goes into stress mode. And all the research out there, shows us that this kind of response triggers long-term health problems like cancer, autoimmune diseases, and more.

But asking yourself that question—and bringing awareness to your body’s knee-jerk reactions in times of stress—is the first step to change.

Spinning top as metaphor for life

Does your life ever feel like it's spinning out of control? You CAN learn to control that by controlling your body's reaction.

For years, I’ve realized that you can’t change the world and people around you (no matter how crazy and irrational they may be!): what you can change is how you respond to craziness around you. But I couldn’t alter my own response as I was stuck literally in the day-to-day grind: exercise, go to work, work all day, come home, put the kids to bed, go to bed, wake up and do it all again the next day and the next day and the next.

It’s only after leaving my job—and now taking up yoga—that I’m starting to become more aware of my body and how it reacts. And I’m learning—albeit very, very slowly—to control that reaction.

As my yoga teacher, Ellen, says—as I’m in a very wobbly tree pose, flailing my arms trying not to topple over (and not breathing, which is typical for me): “The point is not to NOT wobble; it’s to control your reaction to the wobbling.” Ground your feet, pull your shoulders back, lift your spine, and take deep breaths in and out. Putting your body in a position of strength gives you strength to face the world. Now I just have to remember that every single time I get stressed!