Yoga for Runners. 5 Easy Poses to Help You Go The Extra Mile
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Whether you’re attempting your first Couch to 5K or training for your third marathon, yoga will almost certainly enhance your running training regime.
Not only can the ancient practice of yoga have a huge affect on your physical body, it also has a range of mental benefits – and many runners struggle with the mental side of running more than the physical.
Yoga is the perfect activity for runners of any ability, and it’s worth making time for this wonderful practice alongside your training runs.
Why Is Yoga Good for Runners?
Yoga is good for runners both on a physical and mental level. The benefits of yoga are practically endless. It can help strengthen your body, develop flexibility and reduce tight spots. You’ll be less prone to injury if you both warm up and cool down with a few stretches or yoga poses.
While injuries and muscle tightness are part and parcel of being a runner, yoga can help develop the flexibility to help reduce those sore spots that eventually lead to injury. It can also help build strength in your core and legs.
Integrating yoga into your running sessions also ensures you stretch regularly. Many runners are guilty of not stretching enough before or after their run, or stretching very inconsistently.
There’s a range of short warm up and cool down yoga routines online that will help loosen tight muscles either before or after a long run.
On a mental level, yoga can teach breath control and mental focus. Running marathons or even short distances, it’s often your mind that starts to waver before your body.
Yoga can teach you to control your breathing even when your body is under pressure in difficult postures.
You’ll be able to use this mental strength to push through when you hit a wall physically
What Type Of Yoga Is Best For Runners?
Almost any type of yoga is good for runners, but those who are new to the practice may find Hatha or Ashtanga yoga the most beneficial.
Hatha yoga begins with physical postures, moving slowly without so much of a focus on the breath.
Postures are done for longer, which makes it a great way to stretch either pre or post run.
Ashtanga yoga is more rigorous than Hatha yoga, helping to develop strength and breath control.
You’ll work your core and other large muscle groups in the body, learning to use your breath to control the movement.
Best Poses and their Benefits
Even if you don’t commit to a consistent yoga practice, a few poses can be done regularly to help loosen up your body and reduce tightness.
Downward-facing dog is arguably the most recognisable yoga pose, and it offers a range of benefits.
This pose can strengthen your core, improve circulation and tone the arms and legs. It can also lengthen the hamstrings and calves.
To do a downward-facing dog, set up on all fours with your hands shoulder width apart. Press down evenly through each hand and pull your forearms towards the front of the room.
Inhale and tuck your toes under, pushing your hips back and up until you are in an inverted V. Your feet should be hip-width apart.
Allow your head to hang freely and breathe through any difficulty. If you feel any pain, bend your knees slightly to allow you to keep your back straight.
Reverse warrior will open the chest and side body, releasing tension around the ribs and allowing you to breathe deeply. It can also strengthen the legs and increase mobility in your hips.
Start in warrior 2 with your right knee bent, then turn your right hand palm-upwards. Lift your right arm to the ceiling as you inhale, while simultaneously sliding your left hand down your leg. Engage your core and lift your chest, gently bending your back.
Stay in this pose for up to 5 breaths, focusing on grounding down through your feet, then repeat on the other side.
Low lunge can stretch the thighs, groin and chest. It’s a fantastic post-run stretch.
From downward facing dog, take a deep inhale, then as you exhale, step your right foot forward between your hands.
Lower your left knee to the floor and slide your leg back slightly. Lift your body upright, then sweep your arms out to the side and above your head.
Think about pushing your hips forward, lifting your chest and opening up the front of your body. Hold for 5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Reclining Spinal Twist
This pose is deeply restorative, stretching out your entire body while stimulating your organs. This posture is a great post-run treat as it even gently massages your back and hips.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Draw both knees to your chest as you exhale, then extend your left leg back down to the floor while gently guiding your bent right knee over to the left.
Keep your left hand gently resting on your right knee as you lower it to the floor, then turn and look to the right, extending your right arm out to the side. Hold the post for 10-30 breaths, then come back to centre and do the same on the other side.
Savasana is most commonly practiced at the end of a yoga class, and it’s arguably the most important pose.
This posture can calm the central nervous system, relax the mind and reduce fatigue and anxiety. It’s perfect for runners as it’s deeply relaxing, restorative and teaches mental focus.
To get into savasana, lie on your back with your legs straight and allow your legs to fall open to the side. Lay your arms next to your body and turn your palms upwards, allowing your fingers to curl in and relax.
Once you are comfortable, take a few deep breaths and allow your body to feel heavy. When your mind wanders, simply bring your attention back to the present. Stay here for a minimum of 5 minutes, then slowly reawaken your body by wiggling your fingers and toes.
- A regular yoga practice is a great complement to a running training plan.
- Yoga can help loosen the body, reduce sore spots, prevent injury and develop mental strength.
- Hatha, Ashtanga and Restorative yoga are best for runners, as they focus on deep stretches, building strength and breath work.
- Downward-facing dog, reverse warrior, low lunge, reclining spinal twist and savasana are highly effective yoga postures that will benefit runners of any ability.