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5 Best Yoga Moves for Runners

Downward Dog | Adho Mukha Svanasana

This is probably the most familiar yoga posture but for a good reason. This powerful position strengthens the arms and shoulders, stretches the hamstrings and calves, opens the spine, strengthens the core including the back.

Stand at the back of your mat, feet hip-width apart, and begin to roll down the spine. Walk hands forward until you feel the stretch in the back of the legs. If you have a tight back, you can keep a soft bend in the knees to relieve any pressure. Press down evenly through hands, firm the arms and rotate the biceps forward. Draw the shoulder blades towards the tailbone, press the thighs back, allow gravity to assist you in this pose to reap the most benefits. End in a child’s pose if you are seeking a more restorative practice. Stay in the posture for 5 - 10 breaths, or as long as you feel comfortable.

Half-Split

Traditionally a preparatory stretch for Hanumanasana, or Monkey Pose. This pose lengthens the hamstrings and opens the hips and back.

From a kneeling position, step one foot forward, heel pressing into the mat and draw hips back creating length in the back of the leg. The opposite knee stays on the mat. For additional knee support, you can curl your toes under and press them into the mat. Hold this pose for at least 5 breaths, you may also play around with the foot position and try pressing the ball of the foot down to open the shins.

Bridge | Setu Bandha Aarvangasana

A great counterpose, bridge pose opens the chest, neck, and vertebrae column. This backbend also stretches the thighs and strengthens the back making it a must for runners.

Lay on your mat in a supine position, knees bent and feet on the mat as close to sitting bones as possible. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale press heels in the mat, engage glutes to lift up off the floor. Be mindful to not create tension in the neck and instead find length in the spine, keep shoulders down, lift the heart and hips up to the ceiling. Hold this posture for 30 seconds (beginners should not go past this time) working up to a minute.

Low Lunge | Anjaneyasana

This is a front body stretch that targets the hip flexors, making it excellent for runners. If you are performing a yoga sequence you may enter this pose from downward facing dog, however, if you just want to open the hips, you may enter from tabletop as demonstrated in the video below.

Step one foot forward, opposite knee will stay down on the mat with toes curled under to support the knee. Make sure that the front foot is firmly planted with knee lined up over the ankle. Engage the core, press hips forward and lengthen arms up to the ceiling. This posture can be performed with blocks under the hands as a modification. Take 5 deep breaths to allow the tension to release and the hips to open.

Reclined Spinal Twist | Jathara Parivartanasana

Runners tend to have tight hips, hamstrings, inner thighs, and iliotibial (IT) bands. A reclined spinal twist lengthens the spine, stretches those back muscles, opens hips, and hydrates spinal disks. This variation of Jathara Parivartanasana is a deep stretch focused on releasing the IT band. Most runners suffer when these connective tissues become so tight that it rubs against the thighbone. The IT band extends from the pelvic bone to the shinbone, so in this twist, we will work to release that tightness and try holding for 3 – 5 minutes on each side to get full benefits.

Lay in a supine position and bring knee to chest, opposite leg stays straight on the floor. Turn away bringing knee over the straight leg and to the floor. You may stay here or for the full expression of the posture. You may extend the leg out and arms may open out to the sides. Just breathe and allow the body to relax. Stay in the moment and bring your awareness to your breath.

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