Yoga for Runners| Benefits + Top 5 Poses for Runners

As runners, yoga isn’t the first thing that pops into our minds when we consider all the different options out there.
But a regular yoga practice can not only stretch your muscles but also strengthen them in ways that will make you a better, and less injury-prone runner.
It’s a great recovery tool for runners that can loosen tight spots and get rid of the aches and pains we’re all too familiar with as runners.
If you’re not entirely convinced that yoga for runners is the way to go, this article is for you. We’ll discuss everything that yoga can do for runners, along with the different types of yoga out there.
You’ll learn how to incorporate yoga into your training schedule, as well as the poses that can help runners the most.
Is Yoga Good for Runners?

Absolutely! Adding yoga to your training routine can do you good and you’ll start noticing improvements on and off the mat. Here’s what yoga can do for you:
Enhances the mental ability to move through discomfort
Builds muscle strength in hips, core, and glutes for injury prevention
Helps you stand taller which improves running form
Improves balance {important as running is on one foot}
Improves lung capacity {one study showed asthma improvements}
Increases range of motion and flexibility
Helps to detox (great post-Thanksgiving or girls’ night out)
Helps to prevent ankle pain while running, knee pain while running
While running tends to shorten our muscles, yoga lengthens them. And so, yoga can be great to pair with running in a training routine.
The different poses in yoga create a more mobile spine and help improve your overall running technique which can reduce the chances of injury.
Still not convinced?
I did a super in-depth post on the benefits of yoga for running and how to maximize them!
And for those who have been reaching to ask if yoga is good for runner’s knee? Yes…ish.
Anything that helps you to build strength and stability in your glutes, hips, and core is going to help! I believe you also need some of the specific physical therapy style movements I’ve previously shared for runner’s knee.

Is Yoga Good for Runners?

Once you get past the Ommm and the words you don’t understand (remember fartlek wasn’t always in your vocabulary) then you can get down to business. Becoming a better runner.

  • Enhances the mental ability to move through discomfort
  • Builds muscle strength in hips, core and glutes for injury prevention
  • Helps you stand taller which improves running form
  • Improve balance {important as running is on one foot}
  • Improves lung capacity {one study showed asthma improvements}
  • Helps to detox (great post Thanksgiving or girls night out)
  • Helps to prevent ankle pain while running, knee pain while running

Still not convinced?

I did a super in depth post on the benefits of yoga for running and how to maximize them!

And for those who have been reaching to ask if yoga is good for runner’s knee? Yes…ish.

Anything that helps you to build strength and stability in your glutes, hips and core is going to help! I believe you also need some of the specific physical therapy style movements I’ve previously shared for runner’s knee.

Different Types of Yoga for Runners

By default, most runners will try to opt for an athletic yoga because you want that sweat and something that “feels” like a workout, but you might be overshooting to go that direction.

The letting go piece is a big part of keeping our cortisol from being too high and a detriment to progress.

There are many types of yoga you can try as a runner, and sometimes it might be good to try different ones as part of your yoga routine.

Hatha Yoga

A gentler yoga sequence where poses are performed slowly and it’s more about creating a balance between breathing and movement

Restorative Yoga

This is a passive and meditative style of yoga that focuses on breathing while releasing tension in your body. It is a great way to help your nervous system relax and tell your body it doesn’t need to be so stressed.

Yin Yoga

It’s a slow-paced style of yoga where poses are held for longer periods of time than other styles. It’s great for improving mobility and also with the slower pace, allows the body to let go of stress.

Hot Yoga

This style of yoga is performed in a very warm and humid studio. It’s not my favorite option for runners because you often over-stretch, which can indeed lead to issues in your running.

Power Yoga

This is a fast-paced style of yoga that focuses on building strength and endurance and is also known as vinyasa yoga or athletic yoga. They are a great option during times of less running or once a week, but not on a recovery day.

Should I Run or Do Yoga First?

Always run first. Yoga loosens the muscles around your joints, which can cause them to be too loose during a run leading to injuries. We actually need our muscles tight to bounce back with each step.

Once you’ve finished your run, then it’s a great time to slow down and ease in to a yoga session.

How to Combine Running and Yoga in Schedule?

Adding in a little yoga, doesn’t mean you need to detract from your time spent running. In fact, a great half marathon training schedule might look like this:

Monday: Rest or restorative yoga
Tuesday: 5 miles with 1 mile w/u, 3 miles at HMP, 1 mile c/d
Wednesday: 3 miles easy or hour long bike ride + full body strength
Thursday: 5 miles with speed play
Friday: Strength based yoga workout or full body strength/yin yoga
Saturday: 3 easy miles
Sunday: 10 easy miles

Wondering if you should do yoga or weights...check out that post.

I think we need both, but when time is short it will help you decide what’s best! Especially if you’re trying to figure out how often runners should do yoga? The answer has a lot to do with how much you enjoy yoga, your goals and how much time you have.

As you’ll see in the schedule above I have the option for 2 yoga sessions.

yoga for runners

Does Yoga Count as Cross Training for Runners?

You may not break a sweat and it doesn’t feel like cardio, so a lot of runners throw yoga out as an great option for cross training days. But as noted above that means you’re missing out on some great benefits.

They aren’t a one to one swap, you can’t try to take a runners marathon plan and swap out runs for yoga sessions. BUT with a little change in perspective you might find ways to incorporate those yoga workouts for a better training cycle.

But if you think it’s not a workout, ohhh boy do you have some things to learn.

  • Explore athletic yoga – you will sweat
  • Try different instructors who understand runners
  • Once you learn how to engage your muscles, even what looks easy becomes hard
  • Try different flows and holding positions
  • Try hot yoga

Can You do Yoga Online for Free?

Absolutely! One thing I love to recommend to runners is taking your yoga outside, it’s an easy way to get you more excited to slow down because you’re still getting that nature.

Grab your phone or your laptop and here are some of my favorite online yoga for runner classes:

  • Yoga with Adrienne – She has a number of runner specific yoga sessions, but also lots of options for time and intensity
  • Sarah Beth Yoga – Pre and Post workout routines for athletes
  • Yoga with Tim – Has a few post run videos, but a lot of good full body flows
  • Yoga for tight hips a common runner issue
  • Restorative yoga – a great way to get your body to relax, key to getting cortisol down for recovery

5 Best Yoga Poses for Runners

These five poses are perfect for runners and can help release tightness in all key areas including the hamstrings, quads, calves, hips, and glutes. Let’s look at each of them in detail:

1. Downward-Facing Dog

If you’ve ever done yoga, you’ve probably tried downward-facing dog. It’s an incredibly useful pose for runners that can help open up the back of the legs.

This pose will help lengthen your hamstrings, glutes, calves, and even your foot arches. Staying flexible in these areas of your legs can minimize tension and reduce the risk of injury.

This is also a great pose to check in with your body and notice any tight spots that need stretching. It also helps improve circulation throughout the body since the head is below the heart.

athletic yoga

How to do it: Begin on the mat on your hands and knees. Align your wrists under your shoulders, and knees under your hips.

Spread your fingers and press into your palms as you lift the knees off the floor. Gently straighten your legs and raise the hips into an inverted V.

Breath for 5 rounds of breaths. Inhale in through your nose, and exhale out through your mouth. As your muscles start to relax, try to slowly straighten your legs more.

If this is your first time trying yoga, your legs might not straighten all the way which is completely okay. Over time, you’ll start becoming more flexible. Try not to push yourself too hard where you aren’t flexible enough yet.

2. Low Lunge

This is a great pose to stretch your hip flexors while strengthening your hamstrings and quads. You’ll notice a release in the front hip of your back leg during this pose.

It can also promote ankle mobility depending on how deep you can go while performing this pose.

runners yoga

How to do it: Step your right foot forward into a lunge. Make sure your right knee is at a 90-degree angle to the ground. Drop your back knee (left knee) to the floor and bring your arms overhead for a deeper stretch.

Hold this pose for 5 deep breathes then switch legs.

3. Forward Fold

This is an excellent pose to open the calves, hips, and hamstrings. It also strengthens the quads and knees.
By stretching your hamstrings properly, this pose will help ease back pain and tension and keep your legs strong while avoiding injury.

How to do it: Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart and bend forward over your knees. Keep your knees slightly bent to relax your upper body. If you’re not flexible enough, you can bend your knees as much as you need till you gain flexibility.

Place your hands on the floor or on your shins or thighs for more support. Relax your neck, shoulders, and jaw which might be carrying tension from your run. Hold this pose for 5 deep breaths.

4. Tree Pose

The tree pose is great for improving your posture as it’ll help you stand tall.

It helps strengthen the calves, thighs, ankles, and spine while stretching the chest, shoulder, groin, and inner thighs.

You’ll even notice your hips opening with this one. It can also help reduce flat feet and relieve sciatic pain.

running yoga

How to do it: Stand straight with your legs active. Keep your back straight while bringing one foot up to the inside of your other leg. Place it there above the knee but not on it. The knee of your bent leg should face to the side.

Reach both your arms up and above your head. Focus on a point in front of you to help keep your balance. Hold for 5 deep breaths and then switch legs.

5. Pigeon Pose

This is a great pose for runners to give you a deep stretch in the hips. It can help relieve back pain and sciatica.

This pose is also known to provide an emotional release so it can be a great one to do if you’ve been stressed out recently or have been pushing yourself hard to reach a new PR.

hip yoga pose

How to do it: Start on the ground and bend your right knee. Place it in line with your right hand. Make sure your shin is parallel with the front of your mat.

Extend your left leg back. Rest your knee and top of your foot on the ground. Square your hips, look ahead and fold forward resting your forehead on your hands. Hold for five deep breaths and switch sides.

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