Yoga for Runners: 12 Essential Yoga Poses for Beginners

Yoga for Runners: 12 Essential Yoga Poses for Beginners


Yoga for runners is a sneaky (and wonderful) way to add cross training into your exercise routine.

With yoga taking over across the nation – from heated power yoga to restorative yoga – there are SO many options for practicing yoga in a way that fits your lifestyle and goals.

That’s why runners can benefit from yoga. Yoga helps you hit your running goals because it strengthens so many key muscles used for running.

Read on to see why yoga is perfect for runners, and learn exactly what yoga poses to do today.

Why is Yoga for Runners?

Pounding the pavement for hours each week? Your muscles are going to be sore, and tight, and they need to be stretched to prevent injury and allow for optimal running performance.

Yoga offers a non-impact workout that not only provides deep stretching to essential running muscles, but also strengthens those muscles (and more) too.

You Might Also Like: Cross Training for Runners

Benefits of Yoga for Runners

Yoga for Runners - Benefits of Yoga for Runners

Like I mentioned before, runners put a lot of stress on muscles while running (especially the legs) and yoga provides some relief and recovery.

Some of the essential yoga poses stretch muscles that runners use (and sometimes overuse) everyday.  Like, deep, recovery-kind-of-stretches.

Plus, don’t overlook the mental benefits of yoga for runners too – training for races or trying to hit PR’s can be draining.

Yoga gives you time to practice mindfulness and be present in the moment without overthinking your next run.

Now, what are the fundamental principles of yoga? How should a runner approach yoga?

Two Yoga Principles to Know Before Starting

Yoga for Runners - Principles of Yoga

There are some fundamental principles of yoga you need to know before embarking on a yoga journey.

Principle 1: Always listen to your body

Yoga isn’t a competition.

You’re in this for you.

If a pose hurts, or feels like it’s too much for your body, either ask for a modified option or stop and rest until the next pose.

Never push yourself into pain.

Literally no one is going to call you out or care, because yoga is about doing what’s right for your body.

Principle 2: Half of Yoga is About Breathing

When I took my first yoga class, I was very surprised with how much stock the instructor put into breathing technique.

Breathing is breathing, right?

Not in yoga apparently.

“Pranayama” is the technique of controlling our breathing. Learn more about it, and it’s history, in this article if you’re interested.

But what you need to know is this: focus on controlled, rhythmic, deep breathing from the belly. Shallow breathing is the enemy.

BONUS: Practicing breathing exercises can help regulate your emotions, reduce stress and anxiety, help with concentration, and more!

Yoga Basics – 4 Fundamental Poses to Know

Now, I am not a yoga instructor. But I have taken yoga classes for a long time, and I am a runner.

So from that perspective (just a regular person) – these are the 4 fundamental yoga poses I think you need to know.

Pose 1: Downward-Facing Dog

Yoga for Runners-Downward-Facing Dog

One of the most basic yoga poses ever. This one can be tough to master at first but remember – the point is not perfection, the point it to get a good stretch for your own body.

You may not look as V-like on your first try. That’s totally ok.

Pose 2: Warrior 1 

Yoga For Runners - Warrior1
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As far as yoga poses go, Warrior 1 (and 2) are almost as frequently practiced as downward-facing dog.

This pose allows for stretching and strengthening. That will be a theme you see in yoga (aka the best of both worlds).

Pose 3: Warrior 2

Yoga for Runners - Warrior 2 pose
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Warrior 2 usually comes after Warrior 2 and it opens up the hip and chest.

It also provides a good thigh/hamstring strength exercise too.

Pose 4: Child’s Pose

Yoga for Runners - Child's Pose

Child’s Pose is a restorative and resting position you can go into if you’re tired or something isn’t feeling right.

Sometimes and instructor will guide you towards Child’s Pose during class if you’ve just done tough poses, but many times it’s a tool to use when your body is tired and you need a break.

Remember – yoga is 100% about you and how your body feels. So go to Child’s Pose anytime you want. 

And Now: 8 Yoga Poses for Runners – Strengthen, Stretch & Recover

Ok, now that you know the basics, it’s time to focus on some yoga poses that runners can especially benefit from.

These are my 8 absolute favorite yoga poses to integrate into my cross training routines!

Please note: yoga for runners is a bit subjective since every runner is different – as always, do what feels right for your body. 

1.) Chair Pose

Yoga for Runners - Chair Pose
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Chair Pose use: Strengthen

Chair pose engages a great combination of abs, upper legs, lower legs and arms.

To enhance the pose, sit your butt as low as possible to create a 90 degree angle of your thigh and lower leg. The deeper the pose, the more muscle strength used!


2.) High Lunge

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High Lunge use: Strengthen & Stretch

High lunge makes yoga for runners look so good – like yoga is just meant for runners! Look at that pose! I’ve even heard it referred to in yoga class as “runner’s lunge”.

Stretch and strengthen in this easily-adaptable move that requires quad and hamstring strength while also lengthening and stretching the same muscles (and more).

3.) Plank (High and Low)

Yoga for Runners - Plank Pose

High and Low Plank use: Strengthen

High Plank is a fabulous all-in-one pose that engages pretty much every muscle in your body (ok, that’s an exaggeration, but really, it’s a workout!).

Depending on where you are in your yoga journey, you should start by holding this pose for about 20 seconds and build up from there.

4.) Wide-Legged Forward Bend

Yoga for Runners -Wide-Legged Forward Bend
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Wide-Legged Forward Bend use: Stretch

I’m sure this pose also strengthens but I use it primarily to stretch out the hamstrings and hips.

Caution: Not everyone has flexible hamstrings to start of with, so please please only bend as far as your body deems comfortable.

This pose can easily be modified to be easier by using a block under your hands (so you’re not bending down as far as in the picture).

5.) Garland Pose

Yoga for Runners - Garland Pose
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Garland Pose use: Stretch (and strengthen)

Garland pose stretches the inner thigh and groin muscles. You also need to engage muscles to maintain the pose so that’s why it’s also a strengthening pose as well.

Go as deep as you can but don’t over-do it. See a theme here? Only do what your body can do 🙂

Runners will appreciate the groin stretch (especially after tough strength training or a long run).

6.) Pigeon Pose

Yoga for Runners - Pigeon Pose

Pigeon Pose use: Stretch 

Again, as a runner, I use this pose ALL the time. My hips/glutes/hamstrings are always tight and Pigeon pose does wonders to stretch them.

This pose (as shown in the picture) may be too much for some people if you don’t have particularly flexible hamstrings- feel free to modify it with a block if needed.

7.) Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Yoga for Runners - Reclining Bound Angle Pose
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Reclining Bound Angle Pose use: Stretch

This one sounds wayyyy more complicated than it is. Ignore the name. Just do what the picture shows.

It’s the perfect hip-opener and stretches your pelvic and inner-thigh muscles beautifully.

I do this after every run!

8.) Legs Up Wall Pose

Yoga for Runners - Legs Up The Wall Pose
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Garland Pose use: Recovery

Distance-runners will be familiar with this pose already. It’s the ultimate restorative pose for tired legs after a hard long run.

This pose drains the lactic acid from the leg muscles and allows more blood to flow to your heart (allowing it to rest more than usual).

How to Fit Yoga into Your Running Schedule

Training for a race? Yoga can easily fit into your training schedule.

The day after a long run is typically a cross training or easy day. Yoga for runners offers exactly that – low-impact strength and stretching poses.

Also, my training plan usually calls for another cross training day mid-week, so you can always add in another day of yoga then too.

Alternately, you can use yoga for runners poses as a post-run recovery method too. Pick a few poses you like and alternate through them (making your own yoge sequence). Hold each pose for 10-20 seconds then rotate (focusing on your breathing) to the next pose.

Do you have other yoga pose you like?

Have you tried any of these yoga poses before? Did they help your running? Tell me in the comments!

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Strength Training for Runners: 8 Easy Moves to Try Now

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12 Easy Yoga Poses for Beginners. Yoga for runners helps strengthen muscles to support better running form, and stretch you out too. Improve your running with these 12 simple poses that ALL runners should do! #runningtips #yoga

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, nor do I pretend to be. These exercises are for inspirational purposes and should not be a substitute for medical advice. Speak to your doctor before starting any new fitness routine if you have any questions.

Yoga for Runners - 12 Poses for Beginners
Yoga for Runners - 12 Poses for Beginners
Yoga for Runners - 12 Poses for Beginners
Yoga for Runners - 12 Poses for Beginners
Yoga for Runners - 12 Poses for Beginners

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