Yoga For Runners: Top Tips from an Expert

Yoga For Runners

Another_Space yoga instructor, Daisy Hughes shares her tips and advice on yoga for runners

Where should a runner start with yoga?

Ideally go to a class, there are loads to choose from to suit your schedule. Tell the teacher before the class that you’re doing the marathon so they can incorporate some running specific elements into the session. Equally, if you are working with an injury, they will be able to offer modifications to accommodate your needs. I would recommend a slow-paced class and ideally some heat – preferably, infrared heat.

And how many times per week?

Aim for two sessions; the day after your long run and on your rest day. Also, try incorporating a two minute forward fold into your lunch break (from standing, bend your knees, fold your torso forward trying to connect thighs and chest, let arms dangle, relax neck and be sure to focus on your breathing – if it is strained, then ease off the stretch).

What are the benefits of adding yoga into a training plan? 

Yoga acts as effective injury prevention by strengthening the main supporting muscles for running, as well as the more underused ones. For example, balancing postures help strengthen the ligaments and tendons around the ankle joint which will reduce the likelihood of a sprained ankle. Twists will alleviate back pain too, which can be common in runners. Building core strength will also enable you to run with increased efficiency and decreased energy expenditure.

What sort of yoga preparation is beneficial before a long run? 

General mobility, oiling the synovial fluid in the hip joints, ankles and shoulders to prime the body for running. Activation for the hamstrings and glutes which tend to be lazy in runners. Three sun salutations would be a good start, with five breaths held in downward-dog so you can extend the calf’s and hamstrings. Also, a hip flexor stretch via a low lunge.

Are there any specific post-race flows for recovery? 

A short and gentle Hatha flow, 30 minutes would suffice. Stretches for the quads – saddle pose is particularly effective here, Arda Hanamanasana for the hamstrings and cat/cow to release the back. A five minute Shavasana to finish will help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) which tends to suffer under an overactive sympathetic nervous system in long-distance runners.

Are there different types of practice for running and non-running days? 

This depends on your energy levels and time available. Rocket Yoga or Power Yoga is a good option for non-running days. It is a cardiovascular workout while being non-impact. For running days, I would go for a yin practice, passive poses held for a long time requiring less energy.


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