Yoga can be a great tool to help runners improve their running form. With the right poses, yoga can be used to increase flexibility, improve muscle strength and turn you into a more efficient runner.
Add a few yoga poses to your running routine and practise them twice a week, along with your running drills set, and reap the rewards to become a stronger runner.
We have selected 12 yoga poses, specifically targeting runners' needs.
We have included video demonstrations to guide you through each of the poses. The video features Morgan, a professional yoga teacher who has taught yoga classes in our Dundee store.
Chair pose (Utkatasana)
Instructions: Start the pose standing straight. Breathe in and raise your arms. Keep this position and breathe out while bending the knees. Once in this chair pose, draw the belly in and tuck the tailbone down.
Hold the position for at least 5 to 10 breaths.
Benefits: Strengthens the glutes and core and stretches the calves as well. It is a great pre-run pose as it will activate these key muscles!
Instructions: The legs are spread with the left knee bent and the right leg straight. The toes of your right leg should be slightly pointing in. Press into your right heel.
Then, extend your arms and align your wrists with your shoulders. Spread your fingers.
Look slightly over the leading leg, tuck the tailbone down and draw the belly in.
Keep with this position, sinking the hips as low as possible for 5 deep breaths. Now repeat with the opposite leg (right knee bent and the left leg straight).
Benefits: Great to use in your pre-run routine, it strengthens the glutes and quads. It will also stretch the hip abductor muscles.
Half moon pose (Ardha Chandrasana)
Instructions: Stand up straight and spread your legs to shoulder width. Turn your left (or your right) leg out and bend the knee slightly. Extend your arms.
Then, stretch forward to reach the brick or the floor. Bring your top hand to your top hip. Walk your foot in slowly until you feel stable enough to press onto the standing leg and step up. Turn your torso to the direction of the hip.
Hold the position for a full breath in and out and rest down.
Benefits: Another one to add to your pre-run routine, not only it will stretch the inner legs but it will strengthen core, glutes and hip muscles as well.
Revolved triangle (Parivitta Trikonasan)
Instructions: Step your right foot back and slightly angle out your toes. The right heel shouldn’t be directly in line with the left one.
Face your hips forward, in the direction that you’re looking at.
Stretch up with the right arm. As you exhale, reach forward to the outside of your left foot. Extend the left arm up.
Watch your hips position when holding the pose: they should both be facing the ground.
Benefits: Great as a post-run stretch, it stretches the hamstrings and calves. It is also good to give the spine a twist and open up the shoulders.
Instructions: This is basically a push-up position. The legs should be working as much as the core and the arms. Draw the belly in and keep the head in line with the spine.
If this position is too difficult to hold, bring your knees down to the ground (as shown in the video).
Benefits: Strengthens the arms, quads, glutes and core.
Head to knee (Janu Sirsasana)
Instructions: Sit on the floor with your left leg straight and your right foot in your left thigh. Position your left hand in your inner left thigh. Go to reach your ankle and stretch back.
Try to stay relatively upright.
If your shoulders allow you to, lift and stretch up and over your right arm. If the position is uncomfortable or sore, keep your hand on your hip instead.
Take deep breaths in and out, and then come back up and change sides.
Benefits: Stretches inner hips and hamstrings. If mixed with other specific exercises, it can help you improve your hip extension and develop flexibility to generate more power from your stride.
Standing wide legged forward bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Instructions: Stand with your feet as wide as you can and keep your legs straight. Press the feet down firmly.
Bring your hands down to the ground and walk backwards, keeping your arms bent.
Use bricks if you can reach the floor.
Benefits: Great pose for releasing and relaxing the upper body and stretching the inner legs while strengthening the outer legs.
Seated forward bend (Pachimottanasana)
Instructions: Sit upright with your legs straight in front of you. Extend the spine, keeping the head lifted, looking forwards. Bring hands to the feet (or use a belt if hands don't reach the feet). The chest should be moving toward your feet but your back should remain straight.
Benefits: Stretches the back and the legs.
Instructions: Lie down on your back. Bring your feet up and keep your legs straight. Bring your hands forward to grasp your shin bones: your arms should be straight.
If possible, lift your hips up and bring your feet back.
Holding this position will get your core fired up!
Benefits: Great for releasing the upper back and relaxing the legs.
Lord of the Fishes variation (Marichyasana)
Instructions: Sit on a brick and make sure to keep your back absolutely straight (lift your chest up and bring your shoulders back). Bend your left left and bring your foot close to the brick. Place your right hand behind your back and then bring your left arm to the inside of your left thigh.
Rotate your palms to open your shoulders.
Tip: Squeeze inner leg against your arms and also press arm against leg.
Benefits: Great twist for the upper back.
Reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Instructions: Lie down on your back with your feet together and your knees relaxed apart. Allow your hips to relax gently.
You can hold this pose for 2 to 5mn.
Tip: Support thighs with bricks or pillows if necessary.
Benefits: Stretches your inner legs (groin and hip flexors).
Downward facing dog (Adho Mukka Svasana)
Instructions: Lie down on your belly. Bring your hands under your shoulders.
Press up on your hands to the knees. Draw the belly in and lift your hips high to the sky.
Tip: Keep heels high if your hamstrings are tight.
Benefits: It will open your hamstrings, stretch your shoulders and will keep your lower-back open and strong as well.
There are many reasons why runners should do yoga. Adding two yoga sessions to your weekly training schedule will improve your running performance as well as your well-being.