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13 Yoga Poses for Runners

A Runner's Guide to Yoga

-- By Stepfanie Romine, Certified Ashtanga Yoga Teacher
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When I first started running, I felt sore and tight, despite stretching thoroughly afterwards. I started thinking that running wasn't meshing well with my yoga practice. Yoga helped me loosen my muscles, but running only seemed to tighten them. A few runs and a bit of research later, I changed my mind. Running and yoga complement each other quite well, and I don't need to end up sore and tight after my runs after all. The right combination of yoga poses can help you stretch out and loosen up after your runs, keeping your muscles and joints healthy and preventing tightness.

Running and yoga work together in other ways, too. While you're running, the breathing you practice in yoga (pranayama) can actually help you keep breathing steadily, even during intense parts of the run. Plus, there is a certain peace that accompanies running (and walking). That repetitive motion allows your mind to clear, and the path that lies before allows your eyes to focus on the horizon. Add some motivating music, and you've got quite the relaxing and stress-relieving workout, much like a good yoga session!

I designed this yoga routine with runners in mind. You'll need a yoga mat, yoga block (or a chair), and a yoga strap (or towel) for these poses.

Before you begin, remember these precautions:
  • Do not start a yoga routine or any other workout without clearance from your doctor.
  • These poses are not suitable for pregnant women.
  • Each pose should be done in a slow and controlled manner, without bouncing or forcing, which can cause your muscles to tighten, increasing your risk of injury. Stretch in a slow, steady motion to the point of "mild discomfort." If you are stretching to the point of pain, you have stretched too far. Learn to respect your edge—never go beyond it.
  • This routine can be integrated into a post-run stretching routine. You can also do it any time of day. If you're not doing the stretches immediately following a workout, I recommend a 10-minute cardio warm-up before starting this routine. Warm muscles are easier to stretch.
  • These poses and the accompanying photos are modified for people with tight hips and hamstrings, which is common among runners.
  • A breath is one full inhalation and one full exhalation through the nose. Hold each pose for five breaths, or longer if you'd like.
Butterfly/Cobbler Stretch (Baddha Konasana)
This pose opens the groin and hips, stretching the inner thighs. Folding (leaning) forward in this post (explained below) also stretches the back.
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About The Author

Stepfanie Romine Stepfanie Romine
A former newspaper reporter, Stepfanie now writes about nutrition, health, fitness and cooking. She is a certified Ashtanga yoga teacher who enjoys running, international travel and all kinds of vegetables. See all of Stepfanie's articles.

Member Comments

  • I love the cow face post and have used it to sit for long periods on floors. But sadly it does not seem to do anything to my IT band. It's still agony to roll it out on a foam roller. - 5/7/2014 7:43:59 AM
  • Very interesting; thank you. - 1/13/2014 5:40:36 AM
  • QUEENOFHEARTZ44
    I love doing the Figure 4 & Pyramid poses, really good stretches! - 12/17/2013 8:14:10 PM
  • I can't do Virasana and I don't know why....hurts my knees and my knees just don't bend into the position...even with a block. - 12/16/2013 10:17:18 AM
  • Oh my gosh! I am so grateful that this article popped up on my feed. I'm so bad about stretching and part of it is because I don't know what to do. Every one of the pictures made me go, "Ooo, yes," like I could feel the stretch. Definitely adding this to the favorites and doing it tomorrow after my run. Thank you! - 10/27/2013 2:10:33 AM
  • Great article--very helpful.

    I understand why these articles are always prefaced by a warning to check with your doctor first, but it makes me laugh. Most doctors are painfully clueless about nutrition or exercise because they are taught to dispense pharmaceuticals instead. You can check with your doctor, but trust me, you probably know a lot more than they do. - 9/14/2013 2:32:42 PM
  • great stretches. Some i'm not sure i'm doing correctly. Would make a good post run video as i can't remember the sequence. - 8/10/2013 10:36:04 AM
  • I love this article! So many poses for that feel good stretch! - 7/25/2013 1:35:31 PM
  • Thank you for the idea on putting into my desktop favorites! I just got diagnosed with tendonitis in my left achilles and this routine is perfect and I can do some in my office.

    - 7/10/2013 12:38:10 PM
  • Thank you for including the sanskrit names! - 7/10/2013 10:33:21 AM
  • this article is PERFECT - im a runner just starting to get into yoga. i already do a few of these stretches, i look forward to incorporating the rest! - 7/9/2013 12:48:10 PM
  • Go to the left and you should see the line on the side with a few things on thete that tell you how to save it. It has a save you button and you press the button and it saved. Good luck - 6/28/2013 4:31:33 PM
  • JGMARIE80
    Skippercharlie, thanks for the tip. I was able to save this article in my IPAD . All I did was minimize the screen, and voila! I saw the Heart icon on the left side of the screen . It was easy. This article is now in my favorites and I can go back to it anytime. - 4/24/2013 12:39:47 PM
  • Thanks for the help finding the save icon. It was not apparent to me at all. From a content point of view, this article is perfect for most yogis. Runners might need a little more instruction. - 2/4/2013 10:28:35 AM
  • hi i do not see a save feature on a lot of the different exercise articles like this one and really would like to save it...

    thanks - 9/27/2012 5:24:42 PM
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