Yoga for runners

I’ve had poor flexibility for as long as I can remember. I took my first yoga class years ago (like 15 years) and the instructor openly mocked me. I was by far the youngest person in the class, didn’t know anyone, and was mortified.

Obviously, I didn’t go back.

Yoga has been practiced for centuries. There are countless benefits: physical (flexibility, strength, posture), mental, psychological, neurological, and it just plain old feels good!

It’s easy to focus on your main sport and tough to find time for any other activity…triathletes already have three sports to practice. Who has time for strength training and yoga, too? If you’re a runner, why should you do anything other than run and incorporate the odd cross-training day?

Well, yoga immensely benefits runners. It aids in symmetry, alignment, and helps muscle imbalances.

Those imbalances that you don’t really notice are there until it’s too late are what cause many injuries, including most of my knee pain for the last couple years.

In the last few years I’ve finally started to incorporate a little yoga into my life.

Kelly bought me a couple books. Then I started to go to a class every few weeks. Then Kelly started to practice with me. We got a few DVDs and another book.


Even though I don’t like resolutions, I said I’d like to practice yoga twice a week in 2013. It’s actually going alright so far.

Here are my five favourite poses.  I think most runners, cyclists, or swimmers would enjoy them, too.

  • Cow face pose (gomukhasana) – I find it stretches my hips like nothing else, although it also stretches many other body parts. According to some sources, it says that combined with hamstring and glute stretches it can relieve chronic knee pain.
  • Reclining big toe pose (supta padangusthasana) with variations – Nothing stretches my hamstrings as well as this pose with a strap. However, my favourite part of it is when I cross the leg over my torso. (See Variations below the steps.) It really stretches my glutes and hips nicely.
  • Knees down supine twist (parivartanasana) – I can feel serious stretch in my supraspinatus, which I had issues with last summer. I love it because it stretches that problem area nicely and my back and glutes feel amazing once I’ve finished.

Taken from my Athlete’s Guide to Yoga book

  • Revolved triangle (parivrtta trikonasana) – This pose stretches your legs, opens your hips, and provides a twist through your torso. It’s in my top five and is Kelly’s favourite.
Taken from my Yoga Anatomy book

Taken from my Yoga Anatomy book

  • Cat/dogI like doing cat/dog as part of my pre-workout routine. It warms up the back, shoulders, and neck. If my lower back is stiff, it does wonders.

We’re hoping to take at least one yoga class while we’re in Thailand! Once we get back and get into Ironman training, I hope to continue practicing yoga. My body and mind will need it!

Do you practice yoga? What is your favourite kind? What is your favourite pose?
(I scheduled this post to publish so won’t be responding for a while!)


25 responses to “Yoga for runners

  1. Doing more yoga has been one of my resolutions as well and I’ve been pretty good about it so far. I’ve even done a Yoga Studio app giveaway while you’re away! I’m loving it and at the moment and I vary what kind of yoga I do depending on my mood or what I want from the practice that day. If I want burn and heart-rate and strength, I might do Jillian Michael’s yoga meltdown, or I’ll stick to my yoga app for some more sedate stuff. I’ve also just discovered a local yoga studio that comes highly recommended and that’s offering 10 days of unlimited classes for £10. So I’ll be giving them a go soon. I hope you had some great yoga practice out in Asia and can’t wait to hear about it!!!

  2. I like yoga. I’d totally do it if I didn’t have to work! 🙂 I had a yoga instructor in Pasadena who I loved, but here in Tacoma, I haven’t found one that I particularly like. Because of that, it’s just not worth taking an hour out of my day to go. Are you just doing yoga by yourself at home? I suppose I could do that…it’s going to the class for an hour that is hard for me!

  3. From your recommendation a while back I purchased and started doing the Athlete’s Guide to Yoga. I wish I could say that I do it more often than once a week, but when I do it is a great stretch and seems to make the day just a little better. I really like how you can pick the focus areas with this particular DVD as well. Thanks again!

  4. I practice Astanga style yoga. My favorite classes are from Jivamukti Yoga School in NYC –although they do have teachers all over the world–it’s truly a treat when I get to go. If you have this style of teacher nearby I’d highly recommend. My favorite pose changes –but often it involves some sort of twist or bind. Like you I got mocked as well during my first class back in 1996—sad!

  5. Thanks for this. I am one of the least flexible people around and although it usually doesn’t bother me, your point resonated with me: “Those imbalances that you don’t really notice are there until it’s too late are what cause many injuries, including most of my knee pain for the last couple years.” Right.

    Might have to check out a book or two…..Hope you’re having a wonderful adventure!

  6. I try to incorporate these kinds of poses after a long run to really help with my hips and ITB. I have found that my knees benefit immensely from it!

  7. I took a yoga class years ago and loved it! I haven’t found another one that I feel as comfortable in again. We used a video for awhile but now I have just fallen off the wagon. Yoga in Thailand sounds awesome!!! Enjoy! Can’t wait to hear all about it.

  8. I can’t believe your instructor did that! I really needed to read this post as I also had leg issues related to being unbalanced. Monthly visits to an osteopath have kept it in check, but I bet I could avoid having to visit her if I did some yoga!

  9. I think I need to drop and do some of these! I’ve taken several pilates classes, and one yoga one – but that was way too long ago!

  10. I hope you are having a blast in Asia! It’s funny that revolved triangle is Kelly’s favorite and one of yours because I HATE it! I am so not flexible when it comes to anything involving twisting and I’m not sure why. I’ve been taking yoga 1x/week for a while now and it’s interesting to see how flexible I am in some areas and not in others.

    I also love cat/cow – I used to think it was pointless but I really do think it helps. Hmm what else…I like trying the harder moves like crane and wheel. I love yoga!

  11. I used to do yoga all of the time! I loved it. Then I became a triathlete and there just is not time!! I really wanted to start doing 1 class a week this year. It is March and I have yet to go to a class. 😦 I really hope to get myself in gear soon!!!

  12. Pingback: Yoga for runners, part II | Change of Pace

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