10 of the Best Yoga Poses for Runners from 10 of the Best Yoga Poses for Runners

10 of the Best Yoga Poses for Runners

Whether it’s just after a workout or as part of your cross training routine, as a runner, yoga can benefit your performance in a number of different ways. As Runner’s World points out, it has the potential to improve your strength, flexibility and even mental focus.

“The strength and flexibility you develop on the mat—namely in the core, quads, hamstrings, and hip flexors—can help you run more efficiently and stay injury-free” Adam St. Pierre, a coach, biomechanist, and exercise physiologist for the Boulder Center for Sports Medicine told Runner’s World.

Plus, you don't need to aim for a crazy level of flexibility (in fact, some of the world's fastest runners tend to be less flexible than their competitors), but gently stretching after a run with the following yoga poses—recommended by Sydney Benner, a BeFit Trainer, dancer, yogi, runner, hiker and founder of BennerFit.com—can help to relieve and prevent muscle tightness, as well as improve your joint range of motion.

“Let’s imagine you just finished your run,” Benner said. “You probably want to celebrate by collapsing on the couch right? The fact is, if you want to get off of the couch without that creaking feeling you’d be wise to spend just 10 minutes doing these 10 yoga poses first. You won’t regret it.”

Downward-Facing Dog

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“This wonderful pose is my personal favorite,” Benner said. “Planting your palms in front of your shoulders while gently pressing your heals down into your mat, you’ll want to gently lift your hips up toward the sky.  This is a wonderful stretch for the spine and hamstrings.”

Upward-Facing Dog

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“From a plank position gently lower your elbows alongside the body,” Benner explained. “Inhale as you straighten your arms and arch upward continuing to keep your arms and legs straight while pressing the tops of your feet into your mat.  Lift that heart of yours open and enjoy as you stretch your abs and spine.”

Butterfly Pose

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Benner said this pose is especially beneficial for stretching your inner thighs.  “Place the bottoms of your feet together while gently opening your knees out to either side,” she explained. “You can clasp your hands around your feet and lift your torso up tall.”

Dancer Pose

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“This helps to lengthen and tone the legs and is also a great hip opener,” Benner said. “Begin with both feet together.  Put more weight onto one leg, bend the knee of the working leg, grab your foot, ankle, or shin as you begin to pull the leg back and up.”  

Happy Baby Pose

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Taking care of your lower back is so important,” Benner said, noting this pose is especially great for right after a run. “Lie down on the ground, pull your knees toward your shoulders, and grab the outside of either foot with your palms,” she explained. “Rock that beautiful, strong body of yours gently side to side.” You should feel a gentle release in the lower back. 

Single-Leg Stretch

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Benner explained that running often causes tight hamstrings. This pose can help to release any tension or tightness you feel in the back of your legs. “Pick one leg to lengthen straight in front of you.  Flex your toes back toward your face. With the opposite leg, bend at the knee and place the bottom of the foot to the inner thigh of the leg in front of you,” she explained. “This is the perfect stretch to release tension down the back of the legs. Enjoy with some deep inhales and exhales.” 

Runner's Stretch

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“Step one foot between your two palms which should be directly underneath your shoulders, and your front knee should be bent over the ankle,” Benner said. “Extend the back leg long and stay on the ball of the back foot. This is a fantastic stretch for the hips and legs.”

Child's Pose

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“This pose is so calming and stress-relieving,” Benner noted. “Open your knees about hip-width apart, bring your big toes to touch, stretch your glutes back to your heals and extend your arms out in front of you.” You should feel a release of tension in your back, hips and ankles. 

Leg Prop

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“Lengthen your legs straight up against the wall with your spine either flat on the ground, or rest your pelvis on a pillow for more support,” Benner said. This pose is one of the most beneficial for runners because it inverts common actions like sitting and standing. It’s known for providing stress-relief, stretching the hips, hamstrings, and calves, relieving fatigue in the legs and feet, and relieving lower back pain, too.  

Reclining Spinal Twist

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This stretch, Benner noted, benefits the lower back and spine. “Gently lie down on your back and open your arms out to a T shape,” Benner explained. “Pull both knees into your chest and fold both knees toward one shoulder and turn your head to look in the opposite direction. Stay here for 30 seconds and switch to the other side. Try to keep your shoulders on the floor.”