Running can be hard on your body, and a good stretching routine can make a big difference in your routine. Check out these yoga poses for runners!
Running is great for your heart and for your waist line, but it can be tough on your joints and muscles. It’s a high impact workout, which means your body might need a little bit of extra TLC to recover than it might after a brisk walk or a swim. These yoga poses for runners help stretch and strengthen the muscles you use during your runs to help protect your joints and improve your performance.
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If you’re new to yoga, I highly recommend taking a few classes with a proper yoga instructor before heading off to practice on your own. The key to yoga’s benefits is in proper alignment, and a teacher can help you get a feel for how to position yourself properly during your yoga practice.
Yoga classes can get pricey, but many studios will offer packages where you can sign up for a block of classes at a discount. You can also often find studios that offer a free trial class, which is a great way to find a studio that works for you. There are many different yoga styles, so you may want to test the waters before committing.
Related Reading: 4 Ways to Green Your Yoga Routine
You can pick and choose among these yoga poses for runners – adding them into your yoga routine – or you can treat these 10 poses as its own series. I will walk you through how to flow between the poses, if you want to do all 10 in a row, but you can also rest between the poses if that’s the pace you prefer. Listen to your body, and have fun with it!
1. Standing Forward Bend
Start by standing up straight with your feet together and shoulders back. Imagine an invisible string going up your spine and into the sky, lengthening the spine. Inhale, and on your next exhale dive forward and either place your hands on the floor or grab hold of your opposite elbows. Soften your gaze, and breathe in this position until you feel the muscles along the backs of your legs release. If you feel ready to go more deeply into the posture, you can grab hold of your heels, like in the photo above.
To come out of the pose, roll up your spine, one vertebra at a time, until you are standing up straight with your chin sinking toward your chest. Inhale as you raise your head back to a neutral position.
2. Forward Bend > Triangle Pose
From standing, jump your feet apart, so that they are about 4 feet apart. Turn your right toes toward the right wall and your left toes in ever so slightly. Raise your arms parallel to the floor, and on your next exhale, stretch out to the right, then tilt your torso down so that your right hand is in front of your right foot and your left hand is reaching toward the sky. You don’t want to rotate your torso at all in this position, just tilt at the waist. Stretch your arms away from each other and feel the stretch in your side, your hips, and your legs.
Stay in this posture for 10 deep breaths, then on the next inhale straighten your back, switch your foot position, and repeat on the left side. If you’re doing these yoga poses for runners as a series, don’t change your foot position after coming out of triangle posture.
3. Triangle > Wide Legged Forward Bend
Leave your feet apart, widening your stance a little bit further, and turning your feet so that the toes of both feet point inwards ever so slightly. Place your hands on your hips, lengthen your spine, and bend at the waist, bringing the top of your head toward the floor. Place your hands on the floor, and breathe. If you want to go further, you can grab hold of your heels and gently pull your head toward the floor.
Come out of this pose just like you did standing forward bend: one vertebra at a time, with an inhale before raising your head to neutral.
4. Wide Legged Foreard Bend > Squat
Bring your legs to hip width apart, and bend your knees, coming into a full squatting position. If you can’t get your feet flat on the floor, you can widen your legs a bit until you get there. Bring you hands into prayer position, and straighten your spine as much as you can. Stay in this squat and breathe for up to 30 seconds.
To come out of this pose, rock forward on your hands, and come to sitting with your bottom on your heels. If you can’t comfortably sit on your knees this way, you should skip the next pose in this series until your upper thighs become more flexible.
5. Squat > Reclining Hero Pose
From sitting on your knees, move your feet apart, so that your bottom is now resting on the floor. Very slowly, lean backwards, placing your shoulders on the floor. If this is comfortable, you can rest your upper back on the floor, then your middle back, and finally release all the way into the pose. You should feel a gentle stretch in your thighs. If you feel any pain in your knees, back off. This can be a very beneficial pose, but pushing yourself too far too fast can result in injury. Play it safe – your body will get there in time.
To come out of this pose, prop yourself up on your elbows, then use your hands to push yourself back up into a sitting position with your bottom on your heels. Now, straighten your legs and come to a reclined pose, lying all the way on your back.
6. Reclining Hero > Ankle Rotations
From lying flat on your back, flex your right foot and raise your right leg so it’s perpendicular to the floor. Engage your stomach muscles to hold your leg in place, then rotate your ankle 10 times clockwise, then 10 times counterclockwise, making sure to keep your knee as still as possible. Lower your leg back to the floor, making sure that you don’t allow your lower back to come off of the floor, then raise your left leg and do the same clockwise and counterclockwise rotations. You can start out doing one set of rotations and work your way up to three sets over time. As your abs get stronger, you can also do both legs at once to save some time, like in the photo above.
From here, come onto all fours to prepare for the next posture.
7. Ankle Rotations > Downward Facing Dog
From a hands and knees position, push with your hands and feet, straightening your legs to come into downward facing dog. Your weight should be pretty evenly distributed between your hands and feet, and you want to make sure you’re pulling your shoulder blades together and keeping your neck in a neutral position. Let gravity gently pull your heels toward the floor, though it is totally fine if you can’t place your feet flat down. Stay here and breathe for 30 seconds.
8. Downward Dog > Pigeon Pose
From downward dog, swing your right leg through your arms, and bend that right leg before placing it on the floor with your knee right between your hands. Extend your left leg behind you, and press with your hands on the floor, arching your back. You should feel a good stretch in your hips and along the front of your body. Hold this pose for 10 deep breaths, then switch your legs and repeat on the left side.
To come out of pigeon pose, flex the back foot, and swing it around in front of you. Straighten the front leg, so you’re sitting up straight with your legs sticking out in front of you. Now, come to a standing position.
9. Pigeon Pose > Tree Stand
From a standing position, shift your weight to your left leg, lifting your right leg off of the floor. Grab hold of your knee with both hands, focusing on maintaining your balance. If this is as far as you can go, just relax here and breathe. Ready to go further? Place your right foot on the inside of your left thigh, like in the photo above, then bring your hands to prayer position. If you feel comfortable and balanced here, you can complete the pose by raising your arms above your head. Stay here, breathing, for about 30 seconds. If you fall out of the pose, don’t worry! Just start over, and pick up the count where you left off. With practice, this will get easier and easier. When you’re all done place your right foot back on the floor, shift your weight to the right, and repeat on the left side.
To come out of the pose, release your left foot and come back to standing.
10. Tree Stand > Savasana
From tree stand, come to a sitting position on the floor, then recline, so that you’re lying on your back. Place your arms a little bit away from your sides and your feet about hip-width apart. Relax, and let your legs rotate outward. Focus on relaxing all of your muscles, from the top of your head down to your toes as you take deep, relaxing breaths.
Savasana might not seem like an important posture, but it’s just as beneficial as any other in this series. While your body is in savasana, your muscles are processing all of the stretching and strengthening work that you just did. Relax, and let your body recover.
Do you have any post-run yoga postures that you practice? I’d love to hear about your yoga poses for runners!