Yoga for runners

Thinking of taking up yoga to help your running performance? Here's everything you need to know about running and yoga: 

Why should runners practise yoga?

The benefits of yoga for runners have been well documented – practising yoga can help runners rebalance their bodies, improve performance, reduce injury risk, relieve stress and increase mindfulness. What’s more, the strength and flexibility developed on the mat in the core, quads, hamstrings and hip flexors can help you run more efficiently. Yet if you’re new to yoga, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Related: 8 reasons for runners to do yoga


What are the best yoga moves for runners?

When it comes to finding the best moves to add to your practise, first decide what you're working on. 

If you're aiming to use yoga as part of your post-run stretching sequence, it's a good idea to focus on these 8 yoga moves that loosen up tight muscles. These work to relieve soreness and tension in your hardworking muscles, restoring a full range of motion and helping you to run better. 

Post-run, if you've only got 10-minutes to spare, rather than scrolling through Instagram once you've finished your run, try this short yoga flow sequence which targets all the layers of your abdominal muscles, back extensors and glutes. 

If you're using yoga to work on your core, you'll want to focus on these 4 yoga mores for a strong core. Far less intense than doing a plank when you get in from a run, these low impact moves will help improve your posture, boost your balance and work on those all important abdominal muscles, without even needing to unroll a yoga mat. 

If you're clocking up the miles training for an event and want to use yoga to look after weary muscles, take a look at these 6 soothing yoga pillow poses. If you suffer from tight legs, back or shoulders, grab a pillow and practise these simple moves to help regain a full range of motion, reduce swelling and improve circulation - kind of like a sports massage, but much less painful.

Yin Yoga can also be beneficial to runners when it comes to unwinding. Unlike other popular forms of yoga, yin yoga involves holding gentle poses for up to ten minutes at a time, promoting joint mobility and preventing degeneration. Want to give it a go? Try these 5 yin yoga moves to help you unwind.

Of course, whilst yoga is great, you also need to ensure you're stretching after your run to look after tired muscles. Take a look at our complete guide to stretching for runners here.  


What are the best yoga classes for runners to sign up to? 

If you feel like you need safety in numbers to persuade you to practise, or want to learn how to do more complicated emails safely, it's a good idea to sign up to a yoga class. With so many different 'types' of yoga, finding the class that best suits you can be tricky. If you're working on strength and stamina to get quicker, the 'high-intensity' style of Vinyasa Flow or Power Yoga will be for you. That said, if you're looking to use yoga on your rest days, you might enjoy the benefits of restorative yoga.

Take a look at our runner's guide to yoga classes to help you find the class that best suits your needs. 


I'm already into yoga, how can I get into running? 

Whilst yoga is a fantastic activity for runners, running can also be a wonderful complement for yoga enthusiasts as it boosts cardiovascular fitness. If you're a yogi looking to add running to your training schedule, take a look at this training plan.

On the other hand, if you're a runner looking to do more yoga and are struggling to work out how to fit it into your training schedule, we've got a plan for that too. 

What is the best yoga sequence for runners to practise at home? 

To help make things easier, yoga instructor Rebecca Pacheco designed this all-levels yoga class to help runners develop greater flexibility, fitness and mental focus. The well-rounded 25-minute sequence includes key poses for areas of the body that are most overused or prone to injury for runners. It can be used post-run as a thorough stretch and cool down or on its own as important cross-training, injury prevention or to simply unwind after a busy day

 

 

Yoga isn't for me, what about Pilates

So you've tried yoga and not enjoyed it. With plenty of different types of yoga out there, it might be worth trying a faster style of yoga, such as Vinyasa Flow before giving up completely, but if it's really not for you, why not give Pilates a go? 

One of the main differences between yoga and Pilates is that whilst yoga improves the flexibility of the body and the joints, pilates focuses on relaxing, toning and strengthening muscles. Pilates also lacks the spiritual elements of some yoga classes, however it can also be stress relieving. 

Which is better for runners - yoga or Pilates? 

When it comes to which is better for runners, it really depends on your goal. Pilates is a more intense workout, usually performed on a mat or with a reformer machine, other forms of yoga can be more relaxing. If you're working on muscle strength and core, try a few Pilates classes and you'll notice a difference, if you're trying to stretch and relax tense muscles, yoga will probably help you more. 

If you're looking to give Pilates a go, try these 5 equipment-free Pilates moves to fire up your glutes or add these 9 Pilates moves to help avoid running injuries to your next cross-training session. Finally, if you want to try adding Pilates to your pre-run routine, try these 5 Pilates moves for a better running form