As athletes, improving and maintaining range of motion within the joints and major muscle groups is a daily struggle. Flexibility and mobility training are less enjoyable then hitting the squat rack or dumbbells as they require more patience and persistence to see small improvements in range of motion. While most of us understand the importance of stretching, rarely do we find the time to do so after a workout. Yoga can be a great addition to your training schedule for that reason alone.

But the yoga practice reaches far beyond the poses themselves. The rhythmic and focused breathing helps the body and mind to relax. This allows the poses to be more than just stretching and becomes a way to relieve stress and tension. While some poses in the yoga practice go beyond the needs of many athletes because they require an extreme amount of flexibility, there are many poses that are accessible and beneficial for athletes of all abilities. This is why WOD (Workout of the Day) Recovery Yoga** was created. It takes the most accessible yoga postures to aid in physical recovery and the mindfulness of the practice to aid in mental recovery.

Tips for stretching post workout:

1. Let the heart rate slow down and the breathing return to normal. This will allow you to mentally stay focused on the yoga.

2. Find a slow breathing pattern in and out through the nose. The inhale and exhale should be even in length.

3. If something is painful, back off and scale or move on.

4. Move into each stretch slowly. Once you are in the stretch, allow yourself to breathe there for at least 30 seconds, if not more.

Below are some well known functional movements found in many workouts along with a yoga posture to help you recover from the movement:

Overhead Squats - Pigeon or Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Starting in Down Dog, bring the right shin forward and place it on the ground. Keep the right foot flexed. The right knee should be to the right of the hip. Extend the left leg back. Roll towards the front of the left hip so the hips are square towards the ground. Depending on tightness, keep the right foot close to the left hip. Inch the foot forward if there is no pain in the right knee. Once you feel an intense stretch in the glute, walk the hands forward, resting the forehead on the ground or on your hands. Breathe in and out slowly through the nose and stay with the stretch for at least two minutes on each side.

Deadlifts - Seated Spinal Twist or Ardha Matsyendrasana

Start by sitting on the ground and bending the left knee so it points forward. Draw the ankle in towards the right sit bone. Place the right foot on the outside of the left thigh, close to the left knee. Then, sit evenly on both sit bones by pressing more weight into the right side. Take an inhale and sit up tall. Place your left tricep over the right knee and on your exhale, twist to the right. Place the right hand on the floor behind the hips to help rotate the torso to the right. Open up the chest towards the right side, roll the right ribs back and the left ribs towards the inner right thigh. Continue to breathe, twisting deeper on your exhales. Switch sides after about 30 seconds to a minute in this posture.

Kettlebell Swings - Extended Butterfly or Extended Baddha Konasana

Start by sitting evenly on the sit bones and bringing the soles of the feet together. From there, extend the feet out 2 feet in front of you so you make a diamond shape with the legs. Interlace the fingers and wrap them around the outer feet. Keeping the sit bones firmly grounded, start to fold forward rounding the back, reaching your forehead to your heels. Breathe in this posture for 30 seconds while you allow the back to release.

Rowing - Half Kneeling Bow Pose or Ardha Danurasana

Starting in a table top position (hands under the shoulders, knees under the hips) extend the left leg behind you. Roll the outer left hip down to square off the hips. Extend your right arm out in front. Bend the left knee and grab the foot with the right hand, thumb facing down. Press the foot into the hand. Draw the right shoulder blade towards the spine to deepen the stretch in the front of the shoulder. Hold this position for up to 30 seconds and switch sides.

Burpees - Reverse Table Top or Ardha Purvottasana

Start seated with your feet on the ground and hips distance apart. Toes are pointing forward and your hands are behind you. Fingers are pointing toward the heels. Slightly turn the hands out so that the first fingers point forward. Extend the hips up, ground through the heels. Squeeze the shoulder blades together. Lift the front of the chest (sternum) up and feel the collar bones widen. Keep the head neutral and gaze up. To deepen the stretch, shift the hips forward, opening the front of the chest and shoulders.

**This list is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to both functional movements and WOD Recovery Yoga. For more, check out to purchase the WOD Recovery Yoga eBook with 70 yoga postures from child's pose to savasana.

About the Author: Stephanie Ring, creator of Endure Yoga, is an athlete who absolutely loves yoga. Movement has always been a part of her life starting with ballet at age 3 and moving to competitive cheerleading at age 16. She started practicing yoga in college but it was years later when she was inspired to compete in triathlons that than her yoga practice was taken to the next level. Stephanie utilized yoga to increase her overall performance and complete more than a dozen races including two Marathons, a Century Ride and two Half Ironman races. Yoga continues to be a big part of her life as she has transitioned to running and CrossFit and she continues to use yoga during training seasons for cross training, mental focus, stress relief and injury prevention.

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