The best yoga poses for runners will improve balance and flexibility, and increase stamina. They are also ideal for warm ups and cool downs as a form of dynamic stretching.
Whether you are a novice runner or a professional it’s so important to strengthen your bones and muscles to support you and avoid injury.
Here are some of our favourite yoga poses for runners that will help you stretch out before or after a run – or even on a rest day to work on your flexibility. They will help loosen tight hips and hamstrings – common in runners. For those who a visual learners – feel free to jump straight down to the video play list at the bottom of this post for instructions.
Popular Yoga Poses for Runners
Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana
- Begin Seated with both legs extended out in front of the body.
- Adjust the pelvis to bring equal weight into both sitting bones.
- Engage the muscles of the legs, actively pressing the back of the legs into the floor and pressing out through the heels.
- Inhale to sit up tall through the spine and lift the chest (it may be necessary to sit up on a folded blanket or block).
- Press the hands down into the ground on either side of the legs to find more length in the spine.
- Exhale and fold forward from the hips to stretch over the tops of the legs.
- Press the sitting bones and the top of the leg bones back.
- The arms can reach forward to hold the outside edges of the feet (or ankles, or shins, if the feet are not possible).
- Hold the posture for 1 minute to several minutes.
- To come out of the pose, inhale to lengthen and lift the spine, sliding the hands back.
Lizard Pose – Utthan Pristhasana
- From downward facing dog, step the right foot to the outside of the right hand.
- Make sure your foot comes all the way to the front of your mat.
- Bend your right knee and turn your right toes out slightly.
- Bring your elbows to the floor with the forearms flat in your mat.
- Spread your palms on the floor.
- Use a block underneath the forearms if necessary (click the link to see this version of the pose).
- Keep your head in a neutral position, neither dropping down nor cranking up.
- Press into your left heel and keep your hips from drooping toward the floor.
- Stay for five breaths before stepping back to downward dog and doing the pose on the other side.
Head to Knee Forward Bend – Janu Sirsasana
- Seated in Bound Angle or Easy pose, extend the right leg straight out in front of you, place the bottom of the left foot against the right thigh.
- Pull the right leg in to square the hips to the front wall. Inhale the arms up and reach out of the waist lengthening the spine.
- Keep the length as you exhale forward, bending the right knee enough to interlace the fingers around the foot and to place the head against the knee.
- Work the posture by pressing the head down into the knee, sliding the right heel away from you, lengthening the right leg.
- Keep the head pressed to the knee while straightening the leg as much as you can.
- For a deeper stretch in the leg, press the heel away and pull the toes towards your head.
- Relax the shoulders, neck and face.
- Make sure the shoulders are parallel to the floor.
- Use the arms only enough to keep the head in contact with the knee.
- Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths.
- To release: inhale the arms up over your head, exhale them to the floor.
- Repeat other side.
Half Lord of the Fishes – Ardha Matsyendrasana
- Sit with your legs outstretched in front of you (Staff Pose / Dandasana).
- If you find it difficult to sit with a straight spine, sit on a block or pillow, something sturdy.
- Lift your right knee and place your right foot on the outside of your left leg, knee height.
- If the next step is difficult and the sit bones are not both on the floor keep the legs this way.
- Bend your left leg and place the left foot on the outside of your right hip.
- Place your right arm behind you, breathe in and extend your left arm up to the ceiling, then bend and hook your elbow behind the knee as you twist to the right, lower arm and hand pointing up or arm down trying to hold on to the left knee or even the right foot.
- First on the inbreath ground the sitting bones into the floor and lengthen through the spine.
- On the outbreath you begin to twist more to your right, from belly button upwards, first ribcage than your chest, neck and head.
- Keep your shoulders level, keep spreading through the collar bones.
- Every inbreath you create length in the spine, every outbreath you feel if you can move deeper into the twist.
- Stay for 5 to 8 breaths.
- On an outbreath you come out of the twist, move back into Dandasana, and repeat on the other side.
High Lunge Pose – Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana
- On your hands and knees in Table pose, step the right foot forward between the two hands, with the knee directly over the ankle. Tuck the back toes under and straighten the back leg.
- Press the palms, fingers or fists into the floor to lift the crown of the head up towards the ceiling. Roll the shoulders down and back and press the chest forward. Look straight ahead with the chin parallel to the floor.
- Extend the back leg by pressing the heel towards the floor and by pressing the back of the knee up towards the ceiling. Relax the hips and let them sink down towards the floor.
- Breathe and hold for 2-6 breaths.
- To release: Lower the left knee down and slide the right knee back into Table, or step the right foot back into Downward Facing Dog.
- Repeat on other side.
Low Lunge Pose – Anjaneyasana
- Begin in Downward-Facing Dog or Adho Mukha Svanasana. On an exhale, step your right foot forward between your hands
- Lower down onto your left knee and release the top of the left foot on the ground.
- Ensure that the right knee is stacked directly over the right ankle, and isn’t moving forward toward the toes or outward to the left or right (this protects the knee from injury).
- Keep the knee directly over the ankle if it feels like enough for your body—you should feel a comfortable stretch along the left front thigh and groin.
- For a deeper sensation, you can inch the right foot forward on the mat until you find an edge that feels appropriate for your body.
- Take your fingertips to the ground on either side of your hips (you can also rest both hands on the front knee if taking the fingertips down feels like too much) and relax your shoulders away from your ears.
- As you continue to breathe deeply, soften the weight of your body down into your hips, and draw your tailbone down toward the ground.
- Feel free to remain here, with your hands on your knee or your fingertips beside you for support, or experiment with extending one or both arms up alongside your ears and moving into a backbend (as shown above).
- Take five to 10 breaths in your expression of Low Lunge, whatever that might look like.
- To come out of the pose, tuck your back toes under, plant your palms down on the mat, and make your way back into Downward-Facing Dog.
- Take several breaths in Down Dog, bending the knees, then repeat on the other side.
Bridge Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Extend your arms along the floor, palms flat.
- Press your feet and arms firmly into the floor. Exhale as you lift your hips toward the ceiling.
- Draw your tailbone toward your pubic bone, holding your buttocks off the floor. Do not squeeze your glutes or flex your buttocks.
- Roll your shoulders back and underneath your body.
- Clasp your hands and extend your arms along the floor beneath your pelvis. Straighten your arms as much as possible, pressing your forearms into the mat.
- Reach your knuckles toward your heels.
- Keep your thighs and feet parallel — do not roll to the outer edges of your feet or let your knees drop together.
- Press your weight evenly across all four corners of both feet.
- Lengthen your tailbone toward the backs of your knees.
- Hold for up to one minute.
- To release, unclasp your hands and place them palms-down alongside your body.
- Exhale as you slowly roll your spine along the floor, vertebra by vertebra.
- Allow your knees to drop together.
Don’t forget to check out these and other great yoga poses on our YouTube channel
You can also find this post over on these link-ups along with posts from some other great bloggers.
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