Yoga for Runners: Position 11 - Tadasana

The eleventh pose of the Bikram yoga series, Tadasana or Tree marks the end of the standing series. Yes, you finally get to lie down after this one.

Like all Bikram postures, Tadasana is repeated twice. As with Standing Head to Knee pose, the second set can be developed further, boosting your strength and flexibility in the process. This second set of the pose is considered a seperate posture altogether, so in this post we'll concentrate on Tree.

Tree is a calming, gentle pose which comes as welcome respite after the intensity of the Triangle and Stick poses. Tree gives you a chance to open your hips, improve your posture and as always with Bikram, strengthen your core muscles, glutes, hams and quads.

Tadasana: Step by Step

1. Stand with your feet together, heels and toes touching, arms by your side. Bring your weight to your right leg, contract your quad muscles and ensure the leg is locked.

2. Inhale, contract your abs and bring your right knee up in front of you so your thigh is parallel to the floor, placing your hands (with fingers and thumbs interlaced) around the outside of the knee to hold it there.

3. Exhale, keep your right hand on your knee and move your left hand to hold the top of your foot, just under the toes. Bring the heel of your right foot as close to your groin as you can, without causing any pain to your knee or ITB.  

4. Inhale, drop your right hand away and whilst exhaling, slowly let your right knee drop back and down so that the knee is pointing at the floor. Keep your abs and glutes tight, lean back very slightly and push your hips forward a fraction. Your bum should not be sticking out; your glutes should be tight and your pelvis tucked up and under.

5. If your foot stays in place without having to hold it, and you can keep your hips pushed forward and pelvis tucked under, then you can bring your left and right hands together in front of your sternum in prayer pose. If not, simply keep holding your foot and bring your right hand up in front of your sternum. Hold for 60 seconds and then do the pose with the other leg.

Tadasana: The Benefits

"This pose is about balance, concentration and calmness, and works your hip and knee joints" says Olga Allon, Director of Hot Bikram Yoga in London. "Runners may find that simply bending their knee and bringing their foot into the groin may cause knee pain, and in some cases, pain in the ITB where it's stretched. If you do experience pain or tightness, try and work to a point where you can feel a stretch, but you're not in any pain. This pose helps strengthen the knees, but don't over-do it if you know your knees aren't great."

"Use this pose as a practise to find some mental clarity. You'll be pretty hot and sweaty by this point in the class, and desperate for the savasana, so avoid the temptation to rush in and out of this posture. Focus on your standing leg and opening up your hips."

"Tight hips are a very common problem in runners, as is correct alignment of the pelvis and spine. This posture will not only help open your hips, but it will also help correct any postural issues which may have occurred from running."

Bikram specialist Olga Allon teaches at London's Hot Bikram Yoga.

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yoga, bikram, Alexandra Rees, stretching, avoiding injury, relaxation, Yoga for Runners
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