Running is a great cardio workout that can help you lose weight, keep your ticker strong, and increase fitness.
But if your usual MO involves going from your run to the shower, you’re missing a key step that can keep you running and feeling your best for the long haul: a quick, post-run yoga routine.
Read on to discover the many benefits of yoga for runners. Plus, seven of the best yoga poses for post-run recovery.
Is yoga good for runners?
Yoga and running make a perfect pair.
Yoga helps break up the repetitive motions of running that often lead to muscle imbalances, pain and even injury.
“Yoga really helps engage the entire body and creates a stronger sense of balance from head to toe,” says yoga teacher Jennifer Fuller.
For example, if you typically use the quads more than the hamstrings in each run, yoga can help you slow down and focus on increasing strength in the lagging muscle groups.
Balancing those leg muscles can help prevent running-related aches and pains.
Plus, you’ll build strength in the small-but-important muscles that play an important role in propelling you forward (like your legs and calves), as well as the postural muscles that keep you upright.
Yoga also relieves the repetitive stress that running can put on your spine and joints.
“Sometimes, back pain from that constant pounding on the pavement can be a problem,” says Fuller. “Twisting or forward folding or backbending can really open up the spine, giving the disc more room.”
All these benefits make yoga the perfect post-exercise recovery option for runners.
7 Essential Yoga Poses for Runners
Give your hard working muscles some relief with these asanas. String them together and you’ve got an effective recovery routine that only takes 15 minutes
Do these poses after your run, or at least twice per week, says Fuller.
Looking for more? Start your yoga practice in the comfort of your living room with Yoga52, a comprehensive online yoga program that complements your running routine.
1. Stretch the toes
According to Fuller, this pose stretches the areas that form the foundation of your running stride: your toes and the arches of your feet.
- Kneel on the floor with your knees together. Place a cushion or folded blanket under your knees for support if needed.
- Pull your toes and sit back on your heels. Try to keep your knees on the floor.
- Hold for 30 seconds or as long as you can manage. Repeat for a total of 3 sets.
2. Downward Dog
This classic yoga pose stretches your calves, hamstrings and glutes while strengthening your upper body and core.
- Get down on all fours with your hands under your shoulders.
- Tuck your toes in, push into the ground with your hands, and lift your hips toward the ceiling to straighten your legs. You’ll find that placing a micro-bend in your knees to lift your sit bones will help deepen the stretch in your hamstrings.
- Keep your hands pressed into the floor, your hips back, and your heels extended toward the ground.
- Hold for 60 seconds.
3. Low lunges
“The low lunge stretches the hip flexors, glutes, and quads and strengthens the lower legs and feet,” says Fuller.
- From downward dog, transition to a high plank and step your right foot forward between your hands.
- Lower your left knee to the floor and spread your toes out so that the top of your left foot is flat on the floor.
- Lift your chest and sink your hips as low as is comfortable. Slide your left knee back if you need more of a stretch.
- Keeping both hips level, sweep your arms toward the ceiling and lift your chest. Try sinking your hips deeper into your front heel.
- Hold for 60 seconds before switching sides.
4. Pigeon pose
Like the Low Lunge, Pigeon Pose stretches the hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and glutes. “But there’s no strengthening in this move, it’s an active stretch that’s good for reducing back pain,” says Fuller.
- From downward dog, bend your right knee and bring your right wrist behind you.
- Slide your right ankle toward your left wrist, so that your right shin crosses your mat at a comfortable angle.
- Slowly lower your hips to the floor, keeping them level throughout the stretch. The top of your left foot should be flat on the floor.
- Once you find your ideal position, reach your arms forward to fold your upper body over your front leg.
- Hold for 60 seconds before switching sides.
5. Supine twist
This pose stretches the back, glutes, core and outer hips. “It creates space through the spine, which is great for lower back discomfort,” says Fuller.
- Lie on your back with your legs extended and your arms open in a “T”. Hug your knees towards your chest.
- Keeping both shoulders on the floor, lower your right knee to the floor. Slowly turn your head to the left.
- Breathe in and out slowly and hold for 60 seconds. switch sides
6. Tree pose
This standing pose strengthens the ankle, leg and shin muscles while building balance and focus.
- Stand tall with your big toes touching, heels slightly apart. Shift your weight to your left leg and raise your right knee.
- Open your right knee to your right and place the sole of your right foot against your left calf or inner thigh. (Don’t rest your feet against your knees.)
- Keep your left knee flexed as you balance. When you’re ready, bring your hands in front of your heart, overhead, or straight out to your sides.
- Balance for 60 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
7. Triangle pose
This pose combines everything you’ve done so far: stretching the legs, hips, and ankles, while strengthening the legs, abs, and back, and practicing balance, Fuller says.
- Stand tall with your big toes touching, heels slightly apart.
- Step your left foot back 3 to 4 feet, plant your left foot at a 45-degree angle, and point your right toes toward the top of your mat.
- Rotate your torso to your left, extending your arms to form a “T”.
- Straighten both legs and hinge at your hips to move your torso over your right leg without bending at the waist.
- Touch your right hand to the floor or a block and reach your left hand toward the ceiling, letting your gaze follow.
- Breathe in and out slowly. Hold for 60 seconds before switching sides.