Yoga for Runners

Yoga for runners – how to incorporate a Yoga self practice to improve your overall running experience.

Yoga for runners is a 5 part series ideal for you to work into your existing running program.

I don’t think it would be fair to call myself a true runner because I have yet to get over the 10km race mark. Over the years friends, clients and colleagues have tackled many a runner’s challenge. Varying from half marathons, trail running, the London marathon and most noteworthy those who have even conquered Comrades.

Whats my excuse?

Running can be brutal on your body because we all know that it compacts the joints and contracts the muscles. Especially relevant is that without proper planning and cross training it is very easy to injure yourself. And with time you risk compromising joint integrity and developing muscular imbalances.

However nothing beats that runner’s high!

There are many reasons why people get hooked on running.

At the end of a run or race there is an absolute sense of achievement. You have a physical and a tangible sense of accomplishment. It is even better than that because you have beaten a very strong nemesis, your own internal dialogue. Despite the temptation to quit and stop running, with one foot in front of the other, you made it to the end!

In no time you have progressed from a social runner to a hardcore competitor. Extending the time and distance of your training runs. Yet often neglecting your strength and flexibility components.

All types of exercise benefit from cross training.

Yoga, done correctly, happens to be one of the best add on options you can pair with running.

Some of the benefits of regular Yoga for Runners are:

  • Improved overall performance
  • Reduced risk of injury
  • Faster recovery between training days
  • Gains in balance and agility (great for Trail runners!)
  • Better focus and concentration on race days
  • Increased strength and flexibility
  • Greater range of motion
  • More efficient circulation
  • Time to destress, restore and recover

Here is a 5 part series to add into your existing running program. All easy enough to do in the comfort of your own home.

 1: Wake up your core

 2: Sun salutes

 3: Standing sequence

 4: Seated sequence

 5: Restorative sequence

Most of all if you consistently follow this series you will notice the benefits, both mentally and physically.

Be sure to consult with your physiotherapist, biokineticist or doctor before starting this series should you have a pre existing injury, high blood pressure and if you are pregnant.

You will need:

  • Yoga mat
  • Strap/theraband or towel

Time is precious and thats why each part is short and sweet. Never underestimate quality over quantity.

This Blog post covers Part 1 of the 5 part series: Yoga for Runners.

Part 1: Wake up from the inside out

We all know that runners tend to over compensate as a result of favoring larger muscle group.  For example the quadriceps are often stronger than the hamstrings. Injuries will develop because of muscular imbalances. The body tends to habituate using its dominant muscle groups.

A great way to avoid this is to make sure that your transverse abdominals, glutes and hamstrings are awake and firing by the time you hit the road or your trail.

Part 1 is short and sweet combination that is Yoga infused with more traditional strength exercises. And it will only take you 5-10 minutes before your run to cover these simple combinations.

A warm up can be so much more than a brisk walk. Give these exercise a try before breaking into your running stride because longevity is key!

I want your running program to be as uninterrupted and injury free as possible. 

Before you know it, this sequence will become a regular part of your training runs.

Yoga for runners Part 1: Wake up from the inside out

1. Body weight squats. Set your feet hip width apart and bend both knees. Avoid dropping your glutes below your knees. You can turn your toes out if it is more comfortable on your knees. Try 10-20 repetitions.

Body weight squats

Body weight squats

2. Static lunges. Take a wide step forward, checking that your front knee does not press over your toes. Bend both knees and pulse for 10 reps. Repeat on other side

Static Lunge

Static Lunge to change to hip flexor stretch, bend the back leg to straighten and push the back heel away from the body.

3. Hip flexor stretch. From your lunge position straighten your back leg, (you may want to walk the front foot more forward). Hold this position for at least 30s.

4. Single leg squats. First of all bring your feet together. Extend one leg and bend through your stabilising leg. Work your way up to 10 reps on each side. Rather do fewer repetitions with correct form and please pay close attention to how your knee ‘tracks.’

Single leg squat

Single leg squat

5. Standing position into high plank. From standing walk your hands down the legs all the way till you are in your high plank and then all the way back up again. Repeat 3-5 times. In addition make sure that the belly button is drawing back to the spine. For a more advanced option you can add a push up before walking back up. And remember if you have low blood pressure to pause between each round.

Walking the hands

Walking the hands

High plank position

High plank position

6. Bridge with alternate knee to elbow.  First of all come into your bridge position and in bridge position draw your right knee towards your right elbow and then your left. Repeat 10 repetitions on one side and then change.

High plank or bridge with knee to elbow

High plank or bridge with knee to elbow

7. Downward facing dog transitions. Rock back and forth from high plank to downward dog 3-5 times and pedal out the legs and press onto the tippy toes a few times. Because you are still warming up feel free to keep the knees bent.

Yoga for runners

Downward facing dog

8. Standing quad stretch. Come back to your standing position and then bend one knee and fold the foot towards your glute. Remain in this stretch for 30s and then change to the other side.

In conclusion there you have it. Part 1 of the 5 part Yoga for runners series. This part is especially relevant as part of your warm up.

Remember you can always start by introducing 4/5 of the movements and either add another one each run or weekly. Do as much as you can to begin with and always listen to your body! There is no point pushing the body unnecessarily and making it do too much too soon.

Should you have any questions and/or queries be sure to email me :

I look forward to your feedback and improved running times. Because better over all muscle balance and flexibility will shave time off your running pace. 

All photo credits to Melissa Koch Photography.