Sitting tall on your mat, bring the soles of your feet together. Interlace your fingers and place them around the toes. Sit tall, rolling the shoulders back, and gaze past the end of the nose. Lean forward for a deeper stretch, stopping when you start to "feel" the stretch. With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching out in front of you to the wall); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (the chest is getting closer to the floor). TIP: Use blocks under your knees if your hips are particularly tight.
Seated Wide Angle Forward Fold (Upavistha Konasana)
This pose stretches the hamstrings and calves; the forward fold straightens and lengthens the spine.
From butterfly pose, extend your legs out to either side of you at a 90 degree angle. If you can straighten the legs, flex the feet and engage the quadriceps (by lifting your kneecap) to keep your knees from locking. Lean forward slightly and place your hands on the mat. With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching out in front of you to the wall); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (chest closer to the floor). TIP: Bend your knees as much as you need to, and bring the legs closer together if needed.
Cow-Face Fold (Gomukhasana)
This is one of my favorite poses! It's incredibly effective for stretching the piriformis, a small, hard-to-stretch muscle deep in your glutes, as well as your hips and IT band. The piriformis tends to become tight in runners.
From a seated position, bring your left foot back by your right hip; stack your right knee on top of your left, with your right foot by your left hip. (If your hips are tight, your top leg/knee might stand rather than lie flat—that's OK.) Grab your feet with your hands (left foot in right hand; right foot in left), and lean forward slightly, gazing past the end of your nose. For a deeper stretch, flex your feet. You can also place your hands on the floor in front of you and lean forward to intensify the stretch. Repeat on the other side, with the left knee on top this time. TIP: Make sure both hips stay on the ground in this pose.