As a long-distance runner, I can tell you that practicing yoga is one of the best things you can do… apart from running.
1. Sleeping Pigeon Pose
The Sleeping Pigeon Pose is great for opening your hips and reducing tightness in your muscles. Having tight hips can be a real bummer when you’re a runner and this should help your hip muscles unwind enough to make a difference. It also helps build strength in your hips.
Note: Be sure to stretch your psoas muscle, a vitally important muscle located in the lower lumbar region of the spine when practicing the Sleeping Pigeon Pose.
2. Tree Pose
The tree pose strengthens your abdominal muscles, one of the most important muscle groups when it comes to running for a variety of reasons. Having core strength allows you to stand up straighter and increases your balance.
Not only does the Tree Pose aid in developing abdominal muscles but it stretches other areas of your body as well, including the thighs as well as the upper body, the neck and shoulders, and stretching the arms and elbows.
It also helps develop strength in your ankles and calves – we don’t think we need to tell you, that this is essential for a runner.
3. Seated Forward Bend
Looking for a deep, full-body stretch before your run? You might want to give the Seated Forward Bend Pose a try. This asana stretches out the entire back of. It’s great for loosening the hamstrings as well as the spine and shoulders.
Not only that but it also stimulates the kidneys, liver, uterus, and ovaries. This pose is also known for having mood-boosting benefits and soothing anxiety and headaches.
4. Bridge Pose
Looking to take some pressure off your hips? Runners are notorious for having bad hips, especially if they aren’t taking care of them by stretching properly and building strength. Bridge Pose helps ensure that both of these are achieved as well as stretching and strengthening the spice and gluteal muscles.
5. Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog is perhaps one of the most well-known yoga positions and is great for stretching those hamstrings. Not only does this pose stretch the hamstrings but it also strengthens your arms and shoulders, stretches the calf muscles, and elongates the torso and spine.
This is a great all-around pose for opening the body and is especially helpful immediately after a run.
6. Upward Facing Dog
Now that you’ve mastered Downward Facing Dog, give Upward Facing Dog a try. Upward Facing Dog has a variety of well-known health benefits that go far beyond its amazing benefits for runners. This pose opens up the hips and groin and loosens a tight chest.
Opening and stretching the front of your body benefits your lungs and improves your ability to catch your breath when you’re out for a long run and may be therapeutic for asthma. It also stimulates your abdominals and improves your posture, both of which are useful for runners.
7. Low Lunge Pose
Low Lunge Pose is fantastic for loosening up your muscles right before a run and is great if you’re training for a marathon or long-distance run. This asana stretches the glutes, hips, and quads while also improving your balance.
Other benefits of running include expanding your chest and lungs to improve oxygen intake as well as calming your mind so you can focus on taking those slow, steady breaths.
8. Scissor Down Belly Twist
Next is the Scissor Down Belly Twist. If you haven’t heard of the Iliotibial Band or IT Band Syndrome, this is a common leg issue for many runners.
IT Band Syndrome is a result of the overuse of the connective tissues that are found on the lateral or outer part of the thigh and knee. This is an injury that results in pain and tenderness and has the potential to wipe out your running game if you’re not careful.
A great way to help combat this is by doing the Scissor Down Belly Twist. This asana helps to open up the iliotibial band, helping it to relax and provide some relief.
9. Warrior II Pose
The Warrior II pose is all about improving balance (which you definitely need as a runner) as well as opening the hips and strengthening the legs and core muscles. It also helps strengthen and stretch out your ankles, heels, toes, and feet. So, basically, all the body parts are used for running.
Consider adding the Warrior II pose to your routine to get in a great stretch while strengthening muscles that are all vital to your ability to run.
10. Shoelace Pose
Ever heard of the Shoelace Pose? This asana focuses on the hips, pelvis, and glutes which all get tight and firm after a good long run. The Shoelace Pose will gradually lengthen the muscles and works on the fascia (connective tissue on the body) by slowly releasing and lengthening it.
This pose also deeply stretches the knees which can become a problem for runners over time.
And there you have it, 10 of the best yoga poses for runners. All of these asanas can be done pre or post-run, depending on what feels best for you. Yoga is meant not only to strengthen your body but also your mind.
Final Thoughts on the Best Yoga Poses for Runners
Structure your yoga routine around when you need it most and don’t worry too much about whether it’s part of your pre-running warmup or post-workout cool down. Either way, yoga provides a variety of benefits to runners that not only increase your ability to run more effectively but possibly prevent you from injury as well.