Yoga For Runners : Can Yoga  Improve Your Performance?

Yoga for runners can be a wonderful option to improve running performance. I am not a runner, but yes I do love to take long walks and jog for a mile occasionally. Yoga practice makes me fit and full of energy. When I am full of energy, I love jogging.

Yoga for runners improves balance, flexibility, coordination, concentration and endurance at the same time removing physical and mental stresses. Runners can immensely benefit by the fitness provided by yoga practice and it will make your running a more pleasurable experience. One of my friends Anna is a running mom, loves running and shares her passion about running in her wonderful site

Yoga can help to take care of main problems faced by runners sore feet, tight hamstrings/ hips and pain in ankle, back or knees. Also yoga will aid the runners to increase their endurance, will power, flexibility and breath control.

Benefits Of Yoga For Runners

Striking Balance

yoga for running Photo courtesy of Carolyn Coles

Yoga poses for runners correct muscle imbalances resulting from strenuous muscle training. A more balanced body can handle more stress and run without stressing the body. Many runners suffer from chronic pain or injury as a result of imbalance the running introduces.


Asanas and Pranayama breathing fine tunes our nervous systems and provides the body with much needed relaxation after a run. Pranayama practice slows the heartbeat and reduces blood pressure, producing calm and a sense of stability. End your yoga practice with ten to fifteen minutes of deep relaxation in shava asana (coupled with deep breathing) to relax muscle tension and recover your poise and energy.

Self Awareness

While running, you can aim for perfect co-ordination of body, mind and breathing. Make your mind quiet and focus on your body. This self awareness and breath control is possible through yoga. You can concentrate on a rhythm between your running, your body and your breath rather than worrying about the outcome of the race. This will be especially useful for marathon runners.


You can start yoga even if your body is not flexible. Regular yoga practice will make your body more flexible over a period of time.

Reduces Chances of Injury

A regular yoga practice can reduce your chances of injury by improving your mental health, flexibility and relaxing of muscles. Yoga increases flexibility and it helps to prevent injury. In case you are suffering form injuries due to your running, yoga practice can help you to recover faster. I know how frustrating you may feel if you are denied your daily run.

Pranayama Increases Your Oxygen Capacity

Most of us are shallow breathers, not utilising the full capacity of our lungs, thereby less oxygen is absorbed by our lungs in a single breath. A regular practice with pranayama can increase your breathing capacity resulting in more oxygen supply to your blood. This oxygen rich blood can boost performance and endurance for runners. A yoga practice will make your breath more deep and rhythmic. By focusing on your breath while running will help you to have a convenient breathing pattern to support your running.

Conserve Your Energy

Proper relaxation, concentration and quieting the mind of undue fluctuation results in conserving your energy. Yoga also enables you a level of awareness whereby you can let go of things not important and thus conserve your energy. As your endurance builds and your lung capacity increases, the body becomes more efficient.

Stretching And Breathing

Stretching is best done after your run as it removes stiffness of muscles, tones the body and stimulates circulation. Deep breathing along with stretching are essential components of yoga for runners. This helps people to maintain strength and flexibility. For warm up before the run, walk briskly.

"Running is the greatest metaphor for life because you get out of it what you put into it." Oprah Winfrey

How To Start Yoga For Runners?

You have to decide on a style of yoga, say hatha yoga or power yoga. If you have not done any yoga previously, seek help of a yoga teacher to learn yoga asanas and pranayama. If you are experienced with yoga asanas, you can start your own home practice. Runners are generally having good fitness levels and can easily adapt to yoga practice and enjoy it too. Holding a particular pose or holding your breath is not a problem for runners.

You can schedule your yoga sessions early in the morning and after your long run, do gentle yoga stretches. Or do yoga after your run, yoga asanas followed by pranayama. For maximum benefit, practice yoga daily. However, you can have a weekly off. It is recommended to start a home-based practice that you can adjust to your schedule.

Beneficial Yoga Poses For Runners

Most of the Yoga Poses in standing, seated, supine, prone and inverted postures will be of help. Here are listed some yoga for runners poses:

  • Vrikshasana, Tree Pose improves balance, strengthens muscles of the ankles, toes, calves, knees, thighs and hip joint.
  • Trikonasana, Traingle Pose stretches and strengthens the thighs, hips, knees and ankles.
  • Shalabh Asana, Locust is a good exercise for legs, thighs, hips, buttock and lower abdomen.
  • Sarvangasana, Shoulder Stand Pose energises whole body, increases suppleness of spine.
  • Sirshasana, Head Stand Pose should be done under supervision for beginners. Benefits circulatory, nervous and digestive systems.
  • Bhujangasana, Cobra Pose develops back muscles and improves flexibility of spine.
  • Dhanurasana, Bow Pose removes rigidity of joints and improves flexibility of spine.
  • Downward Dog Pose, stretches the back of the legs from the hamstrings through the calves through the Achilles heel.
  • Butterfly Pose, This pose opens up the groin area and stretches the hips and knees.
  • Sukhasana, Simple Cross Legged Pose is used for breathing exercises, opens up the hips and strengthens lower back.
  • Shavasana, Corpse Pose quieten the mind and rejuvenates the body.

Beneficial Yoga Breathing For Runners

Yoga Breathing/ Pranayama can benefit the mind and help to increase mind power and concentration. Yoga for runners can comprise of the following pranayama:

  • Alom Vilom and Yogic Deep Breathing for increasing lung capacity and soothing the nerves.
  • Ujjayi pranayama increases the capacity of lungs and helps to establish natural rhythm of breath.
  • Kapalabhati increases concentration power and flushes stale air from the lungs.

Why Should Yogis Run?

We are in favour of yoga for runners, but what about yogis doing the running? Shall people doing yoga run? Many of us who do yoga can always supplement their yoga practice with an exercise like swimming, jogging or running. You add running to yoga only if you enjoy running and want to run for the sheer fun of going out and be with nature. Running gets you more strength and endurance to hold your poses better. As a rule, real Yogis need not run! We lesser mortals are different.

Are you a runner doing yoga? Do you think yoga for runners can improve performance? You can share your experiences with us or ask a question here?

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