Let’s finally dive into one of my favorite topics: Yoga for Runners! My wonderful friend Sharon (@pineapple.yogi) who is also an excellent Yoga instructor in New York City is sharing the best Yoga Routine for runners with us today. While a simple yoga routine for runners loosens tight spots in our bodies it also strengthens weak spots. And if you were wondering, it makes you a better, less injury-prone runner.
But which are the best Yoga Stretches for runners? In this article, you’ll find the most essential yoga poses for runners, explained and guided by Sharon Armstrong, who is one of the best Yoga instructors in NYC.
Things You Need for Yoga for runners
- A yoga matt like this one.
- A towel for your matt. I love this one.
- Comfortable, breathable clothing.
- A water bottle for hydration
- Calming music if you feel like it. This is my favorite playlist.
Is yoga good for runners?
In case you’re wondering if yoga for runners will help your running? Yes! Yoga for runners helps keep runners mobile, increasing the range of motion in their bodies and lengthening all of the muscles that are worked & tight due to (or even overworked) through the continual repetition of running.
Think pre Yoga: Super new, tight rubber band. Post yoga for runners: Used, flexible rubber band. If you apply that, Yoga will also help you with running because of the above! This will help with your gait, stride, ability to be open and get into the groove of running quicker and also recover more quickly.
The best Yoga Poses for runners
1. Anjaneyasana- Side bend (Low Lunge)
Stretches: Both the opposite legs hip flexor, inner groin, and thighs, along with the entire side body, supporting muscles for knee, shoulders/arms and hip/IT band, hamstrings, decreases sciatic pain; opens the chest and abdomen; creates low spine stability.
1. Anjaneyasana start in Downward-facing-dog Pose, work on the right side first then switch to left after
2. Now exhale and place your foot in between the hands, the knee is bent at a 90-degree angle.
3. Lower your left knee to the floor and place the top of the left foot on the floor, (Draw the tailbone down toward the floor)
4. Inhale and lift your torso, as you do raise your arms up alongside your ears, overhead
5. Now grab a hold of your left wrist (if on the right side) and side bend to your right side. Tilt your head slightly towards the left/ceiling
6. You want to feel like you are stretching, side bending and almost pressing (energetically) into your left side body
7. Remain in the pose for 30 seconds
8. To come out this pose, place your hands back to the floor framing your front foot and get back into the Downward-facing-dog Pose
9. Repeat with the left foot
2. Banasana- (Lying side bend)
Stretches: This will open the entire side body, hips, IT band, ribs, mobilizes the spine in lateral flexion, posterior border of the shoulder. Option to cross one leg over other to deepen (in either position). This yoga pose for runners can be done standing also.
1. Lying on your back with your legs together and straight on the floor, reach the arms overhead and clasp your right hand to the left wrist
2. With your buttocks firmly glued to the earth, move your feet and upper body to the right
3. Arch like a nice, ripe banana
4. Be careful not to twist or roll your hips off the floor. Find your first edge. When your body opens more, move both feet further to the right and pull your upper body further to the right, as well. Keep playing this edge
5. Slowly make your way back to center after 10 breaths or 1 minute and switch sides, switch wrist grab also
3. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana- (Pigeon Pose)
Stretches: psoas major muscle, thorax, abdomen, inguinal region, thigh, ankle, throat, front of the body. (can modify if you have super tight hips by lying on your back in figure four)
1. Come to all fours with your hands below your shoulders, knees below your hips. Bring your right knee to touch your right wrist. Keep your right thigh parallel to the side of your mat and inch your right foot forward until it’s just in front of your left hip. If your hips allow, walk your right foot closer to the front of your mat to create a more intense stretch
2. Slide your left leg toward the back of your mat and lower both hips toward the floor. As you lower your pelvis, be sure that your hips don’t spill to the right
3. Look over your shoulder and make sure your back leg is extended straight. Press the top of your back foot into the floor to more deeply stretch your hip flexors
4. Stay here, with your arms straight and your hands alongside your hips, for 2-4 breaths, letting your hips settle toward the floor and observing the sensations in your lower body
5. Continue to deepen the posture by walking your arms forward until your forehead rests on the floor. You’ll stretch your outer hip more deeply by keeping your elbows off the ground. Continue to root down through your front shin and back foot. Breathe into the sensations that are rumbling in your hips; relax your eyes, jaw, and throat. Take 3 to 4 breaths, release, and repeat on the other side
4. Pyramid Pose Variation
*On back toes, flex front toes up toward you
1. Start standing feet together, step your right leg back about one leg-length, with your right toes pointing toward the upper right corner of your mat. Come off of your back heel, you are on your back toes. If you feel unstable, like you’re standing on a tightrope, widen your stance by moving your left foot a little more to the left
2. Micro-bend your front knee to avoid locking, and track your knee straight forward
3. Lift your back inner thigh up, draw the backside of your belly toward the front side of your belly, and move your front outer hip back
4. Hands come down toward the ground, if you have blocks or books, place hands on them- rame your top foot with them
5. Maintain length in your spine as you fold forward over your front leg
5. Supported Bridge Pose, arms overhead
Stretches: Entire front side body, hip flexors, shoulder and chest/arms
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet flat on the floor
2. Extend your arms on the floor with your fingers reaching toward your heels. You should be able to just barely touch the backs of your heels with your fingertips. Keep your feet parallel. Maintain that position throughout the pose
4. Press down into the soles of your feet to lift your hips off the floor.
5. Slide your yoga block under your back directly under your sacrum, letting it rest securely on the bolster. Your arms can come overhead, elbows bent, to open arms and chest/shoulders
6. This should be a comfortable position. You may want to stay here several minutes as your body settles into the stretch and gets the benefits of a passive backbend. If the pose causes your back to hurt, remove the block and come down
7. To come out, press down into your feet and lift your hips again. Slide the block out from under your sacrum and gently lower your back to the floor
6. Hero’s Pose with a block
Stretches: Top of feet, chins, ankles, takes out of flexion, thighs, quads, hip flexors
1. Kneel on the floor (use a folded blanket or bolster to wedge between your calves and thighs if necessary), with your thighs perpendicular to the floor, and touch your inner knees together. Slide your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor.
2. Angle your big toes slightly in toward each other and press the top of each foot evenly on the floor
Exhale and sit back halfway, with your torso leaning slightly forward. Grab a yoga block and place it where you sit bones will come to. Wedge your thumbs into the backs of your knees and draw the skin and flesh of the calf muscles toward the heels. Then sit down between your feet, to the block
3. You can go further with proper support, coming down entirely to lie, so keep reclining back towards the ground and place a second yoga block underneath your shoulders. If you have lower back pain or tension, come out. This compresses the lower spine so be mindful and enter it slowly.
Stay for 1 minute and ease your way out
Should you do yoga before a run?
Before running specific yoga stretches are crucial. After running I’d say do Yin yoga; this is a slower, deeper practice where it is less active, NOT moving from one pose to the next but getting deeper into the connective tissue and fascia so to create true change in lengthening and stretching.
Will yoga for runners make me a faster runner?
I can’t say for sure, but I’d say it can. Why? Yoga helps you learn how to breathe; running is all about breathing and how well we maintain oxygen in our bodies, this alone will in time, help you become MUCH more efficient. Being more limber, mobile, and flexible will aid your body in injury prevention and keep you warmed up so that your runs are again, more efficient.
Can I run and do yoga on the same day?
This depends, but more often than not YES. It depends on 1) what type of run are you doing? (Long run, effort, short, tempo..and so on) if you have just run several days in a row and are doing your long run, I wouldn’t say do yoga on that same day. I would say you need to set up a routine, schedule, and structure that makes sense. It would be highly beneficial to incorporate Yin Yoga (specifically this yoga) mid-week, can be on a day where you have an easy run, and after the run, I feel it is ideal.