The 6 Best Yogas Poses for Runners

Relax & align

Although running and yoga may seem like very different forms of exercise, they actually go together quite beautifully.

Running has many health benefits including, increased stamina, cardiovascular health, muscle strength, overall fitness, and a loss of excess weight. Many people also describe running and speed walking to be quite meditative, especially when done outdoors.

Even though it’s a great source of fitness, running is a high impact activity which causes quite a bit of stress on the joints, hips, and legs. This can cause muscles to tighten, resulting in stiffness and pain. This is one of the main reasons it’s so important to combine running with stretching and other gentler forms of fitness, like yoga.

Practicing these six yoga postures, both before and after running, will help you to stay flexible and reduce your risk of injury.

1) Butterfly

Stay flexible and release tension throughout the inner thigh area by opening up the hips and groin with this gentle posture. To begin, sit up tall and straight while lifting up through the spine and back of the neck.

Follow these steps:

  • Sit tall on your mat, bend your knees and bring the soles of your feet together.
  • Fully relax your inner thigh muscles, bringing your feet at close to your body as possible.
  • Gently move your knees up and down toward the floor, but do not use any force. Practice up to 30 movements.
  • On the next exhalation, keep your knees still and stretch your arms forward along the floor. Relax the back of your neck and gently reach forward as far as is comfortable, without straining. Hold for a few moments (ideally 30 seconds.) Keep breathing.
  • When you are ready, on the next inhalation, return to the starting position. Do this 3-5 times.
2) Bridge

This backwards bending posture will help to open up the shoulder and chest as well as strengthen the core muscles.  The longer we run, we tend to begin to hunch over and this posture serves to counteract this.

Follow these steps:

  • Lie on your mat, bend your knees, keeping your feet on the floor about hip width apart and your arms outstretched with palms facing down at your sides.
  • Start to curl up from the base of your spine (the tailbone) then begin to lift your hips up toward the ceiling while engaging the core the entire time.
  • Once you have reach your full range of motion, start to lower your hips by rolling down, vertebrae by vertebrae, from the top of your spine to the base of your tailbone.
  • Continue for 5-7 rounds, inhaling as your raise the hips and exhaling as you lower the hips back to the starting position.
3) Thread The Needle

The deeper hip muscles and buttock muscles can tighten when you run often. Keep them flexible and limber with this posture.

Follow these steps:

  • Stretch out flat on your back and bring your knees toward your chest paying attention to maintain and ninety-degree angle.
  • Take care as you place your left ankle onto your right thigh and interlock your fingers around the back of your right thigh.
  • Gently pull your right thigh closer to your chest. Feel the stretch in your hips and buttock as your hold the position for 30 seconds.
  • On each exhalation try to release any tension you may be holding within the body. Return to the starting position and repeat on the other side. Do 3-5 times on each side.
4) Spinal Twist

This pose helps to massage the organs and to relax the spinal column and surrounding muscles. It also helps ease the tension built up in your shoulder and neck after a long run.

Follow these steps:

  • Stretch out on your back with your legs straight and your feet together. Stretch your arms out to your sides, palms facing the floor.
  • Bend your left leg, and place your left foot beside your right knee.
  • As you exhale, gently start to let your knee move toward the right wall as you turn your head towards the left wall.
  • Feel a deep twist along the entire spine and only go as far as you can without straining.
  • Hold for a few moments. You can place your opposite arm on the outside of the bent leg using a gentle pressure to create a deeper stretch.
  • On your next inhalation return to the starting position and repeat on the others side. Do 5-7 times on each side.
5) Low Lunge

This posture is an excellent way to loosen up the front of your hips and stretch the entire front of the body. It also works to strengthen the core muscles and improve balance.

Follow these steps:

  • Start by kneeling on your right knee with your left foot placed in front of your body so that it’s a little straighter than ninety-degrees.
  • Push the hips forward until you feel a deep stretch in the front of your right hip. Be sure that your knee does not bend past your ankle.
  • Place the palms together in front of your chest and reach toward the sky. Continue to reach upward as you start to feel a gentle backward arch through your upper back.
  • Lift your chin to gaze at your hand. Hold for 30 seconds then exhale as you return to the starting position.
  • Repeat on the other side. Do 5-7 reps
6) Tree Pose

This posture helps to improve balance and open up your hips. It’s also a great time to send thoughts of gratitude and appreciation to your body for all that it allows you to experience.

Follow these steps:

  • Stand tall on your mat with your feet together and arms at your sides. Focus your gaze on a fixed point in front of you.
  • Bend your right leg and grasp your ankle as you place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. Your heel should be close to your groin and your knee should point out to the right side.
  • When your body is balanced, place your hands together in front of your chest for the final position.
  • Release your hands and then your foot.
  • Relax completely in the starting position, and change sides. Practice 3 rounds on each side, holding the final position for up to 2 minutes.
  • Combine these 6 postures with your running routine for a total body workout. They help to stretch and strengthen the entire body and doing them regularly will help to keep you a happy and healthy runner.
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