Yoga for Runners: The Best Combination

Although running and yoga seem to be the opposite of each other in many ways, they actually complement each other very well. They have a complete yin and yang balance. These opposites are dependent on each other, interdependent and transforming. The perfect combination of a peaceful, happy, and healthy life. When you do both for a long time, you can see changes in many areas of your life. You can watch your infinite potential unfold in both of them every day. So what are the benefits of yoga for runners?

Yoga is very beneficial for runners. It provides flexibility. As a result of your yoga practice and regular jogging exercises, you realize that you have energy far beyond the limits you create with your mind. With the feeling of floating in the air while running, the sweet touch of the wind, and the sound of your steps, you will become entranced and integrated. In your yoga practice, you come to the “moment” with the feelings of the breath and body and you are exactly there. With yoga, the muscles that have shortened and contracted during the running stretch, breathing is regulated, and body and mind awareness is gained.

In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras the second sutra says “Yoga is the way of controlling the modifications created by the mind.” A normal person has over 25,000 thoughts a day, and the mind keeps jumping from one thought to another. 80% of these thoughts tend to be negative. Yoga offers a road map that enables people to recognize and control these thoughts. Running is a sport that slows down thoughts and makes them clear and understandable. I also witnessed the clearest moments of my life when I was running.

A lot of creative ideas come to mind while running. Many runners find themselves in very positive thoughts and moods during and after the run. Learning to control the mind is very important, as in long runs, practicing yoga and meditation. Because the mind loves to hold onto pain in the body and continues to constantly create negative thoughts. As in meditation practice, constantly inviting the mind to breathe and let it pass without holding on to thoughts allows you to go beyond the body and run with another force from within.

When you start yoga, maybe your hips will be very closed, your hands will not be able to reach the ground in leaning forward, your heels will not come to the ground in the downward-facing dog movement, but it does not matter. If you can take jogging and yoga together, you will see the difference in your body and mind over time. Yoga already means to integrate with its literal meaning. I am sure that when you take yoga with running into your life, your meeting with your own nature will speed up your union.

When you start yoga, maybe your hips will be very closed, your hands will not be able to reach the ground in leaning forward, your heels will not come to the ground in the downward-facing dog movement, but it does not matter. If you can take jogging and yoga together, you will see the difference in your body and mind over time. Yoga already means to integrate with its literal meaning. I am sure that when you take yoga with running into your life, your meeting with your own nature will speed up your union.

Breathing exercises are also very important for running. Sit upright as long as you can in a comfortable position. Close the index and middle fingers of your right hand, bring your hand to your face with your thumb to your left nostril and your ring finger to the left nostril, release all the breath and start breathing by counting four from your left nostril to your right nostril, closing the left when it is time to exhale. Exhale the breath through the nostril by counting to four and breathe through the same hole by counting to four and continue to exhale through the left nostril. Increasing your breathing and exhalation time is valuable for increasing your lung capacity. Gradually filling your breath, especially in the lower abdomen, middle abdomen, and upper chest will also open the inactive parts of the lungs.

The Relationship Between Running and Yoga

Running has been in my life for a year, and I have been practicing yoga for over 10 years. Based on my personal experience, I can say that these two disciplines have different physical effects. I exclude from the scope of this article that yoga is above all a teaching and cannot be limited to physical exercise. On the axis of movement, the main difference for me is that while running shortens the muscles, yoga focuses on lengthening the body. That’s why yoga is a great complement for runners.

It should also be noted that among runners, those who regularly practice yoga are said to be less injured. Yoga increases joint mobility and flexibility, reducing the risk of injury, improving muscle strength and balance, and also helping you improve your mental focus and breathing efficiency for running. In response to the countless variety of asanas (yoga poses are called this) of yoga, we do a constantly repetitive movement in running. If your posture is not correct, consider what kind of stress a repetitive movement can put on your body after thousands of steps.

Because when the body is not aligned correctly, points such as waist and knees may be subjected to extra stress during running, and since running is a repetitive movement, this may mean a mistake that is repeated over and over. We can think of this as the abrasive power of water. Yoga is a practice that frees the spine in its natural curves, reminding the body, breath and mind of its most natural state, teaching balance and focus. Short results, instant solutions do not fall within the scope of yoga, but I can argue that in the long run it will improve your posture, liberate your breathing and therefore make you a more aware runner who can hear your body more. Running-induced pain will be alleviated with yoga practice that realignizes the body.

There is a situation that I often encounter in the running world. Running enthusiasts do not compromise their training plans despite injuries or run hard, even though they sometimes feel exhausted. Seeing this is surprising for me, because we don’t quite allow it in yoga. We listen more to the body and shape our practice with its needs. If there is an injury, we remove the poses loaded on that area from our series until it heals. If we are tired or going through a difficult period, we turn to restorative work. I think that just adopting this approach can reshape your relationship with both running and your body.

From most people who are afraid to start yoga, I hear: “I am not flexible at all, I cannot touch my toes.” That’s why I say they should start yoga, because you don’t have to be flexible for yoga, but it is possible to increase your flexibility by practicing yoga. I have also witnessed many rigid bodies that span over the years but transform their bodies through a regular yoga practice. Why shouldn’t you be one of them? When you step into the world of yoga, you will encounter countless styles and it is normal to get confused. Let me not confuse you by talking about the shift in meaning when yoga reaches the west, with the definition of the east.

The best option for runners would be HATHA YOGA that focuses on balance and stability, or YIN or RESTORATIVE YOGA to aid recovery. For example, for someone who runs 3-4 days a week, 1 HATHA a week, 1 YIN / RESTORATIVE YOGA per week is ideal. But try it best and your body will tell you the best for you. For a while, add yoga to your weekly exercise program and watch its effects. I’m almost sure your body will thank you. Even if you are stiff, your flexibility will increase over time, resulting in an increase in joint mobility.

Why Runners Should Do Yoga?

Here are some reasons for runners to practice yoga:


This is the most obvious reason to practice yoga when you are a runner. Runners tend to be the most inflexible people I know! Yoga stretches and relaxes your muscles and helps increase hip flexibility. The result is a better working style and more comfortable movement with less risk of injury.

Muscle Imbalance

Running, like many sports, trains some muscles much more than others. This puts excessive strain on the joints and can result in injury. Typically, runners will have very strong quads and disproportionately weak leg muscles. Yoga poses work the whole body. You will soon notice your weaknesses, but regular exercise corrects the typical muscle imbalances caused by running.


What is the most important issue for beginners? Not having enough leg strength to complete exercise programs and avoid injury. Yoga is perfect for your building strength. Yoga poses will strengthen your waist and hips, your arms and turn you into an efficient running machine!


Sometimes you need to react quickly and avoid obstacles while running. Good balance reduces the risk of falling and is particularly beneficial if you are running off-road. Yoga balance poses can really help. Balance for a yogi is not limited to just the body. It covers all aspects of life and can help a runner meet their body’s needs. A yogi runner is less likely to overtrain and it takes time to rest and recover.

Reduces Back Problems

The sustained effect of running causes a lot of back problems for runners. Slight bending and back strains within a yoga practice can really help alleviate problems and prevent injuries.

Strengthens Ankles

Ankles are often a weak point for runners.


Lung capacity is important for runners. However, running tends to breathe fast, shallow using only the upper part of the lungs. Yoga helps runners take deep, slow, inhalation using the upper, middle, and lower lung sections. The result may be increased lung capacity and stamina.

Stress relief

Running can be a great aid in stress relief. However, sometimes runners become overly competitive and anxious about races. Yoga can provide a forward feeling and help relieve stress in pre-race development.


Yoga teaches awareness. Being fully aware of your body and breathing can make the most of your run. It can help you achieve your best running performances and, more importantly, find pleasure.

It can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to yoga. We both know that running takes a lot of time. It is difficult to fit into your running schedule with yoga classes. Also, it’s really good to do a little yoga every day, especially for runners. If you’re like me, you get stiff after a long run and spending just 10 minutes on the mat really helps.

Benefits of Yoga Practice for Runners

Running, the most practiced sport in the world is actually an activity that our bodies do naturally. Running, which many of us learn before walking, is an action that the body needs rather than sports. You can prepare yourself physically and mentally for your running program by taking advantage of Yoga in this period when the running season is open and marathons are running.

Yoga contains calm and deep Yin (feminine) energy, while running includes active and mobile Yang (masculine) energy. Both energies complementing each other are necessary for life. When the activity of the running is completed with the calmness of Yoga, your running training can be much more enjoyable. You can also use Yoga as cross-training to support running.

Strength and Flexibility: While yoga gives flexibility to the muscle groups you use extensively in running, it enables all muscles in the body to strengthen and equalize by working the muscle groups that you do not use or use less than others.

Correct posture: Correct alignment, which we attach great importance to in Yoga Asanas (Yoga postures), is actually valid for all sports. With alignment exercises in yoga, you can get a correct posture in running. You can transfer the basic alignment habits of Yoga, such as a long spine, a slight inward pull of the chin, the sole of the foot pressing on 4 points with equal weight, to the running. Distributing weight and impact evenly throughout the body while running will prevent injuries and reduce joint damage.

Breathing Harmony: “Pranayama” (Breathing Exercise), one of the 8 stages of Yoga, should be practiced in harmony with each Yoga pose. You can also bring the “Conscious Breathing” exercise to your running session. Many sports performance studies have demonstrated the benefit of meditation and breathing exercises, especially if you are preparing for longer distances such as marathons or ultra trail. Also, racing tension is an area that all professional athletes work on, which is a common method to manage it with conscious breathing (Pranayama) exercises.

Balance: Yoga Asanas improve the balance of the body and bring the balance ability of the right and left sides of our body closer to each other. Running is a sport with symmetrical action. The balance of our right side, as well as the balance of our left side, has a direct positive effect on your running performance.

Concentration: Many exercises that contribute to the development of focus and mental strength that you can use especially in the long-distance running are in the world of Yoga. Breathing exercises, body-breathing harmony practice in Asanas, balance postures, determining the focus (focus) point, meditation, and mindfulness exercises will increase your concentration level as well as make you in a more positive relationship with life and stay in the moment.

Less stress: Yoga contributes not only to mental stress, but also to the negative effects of physical stress on the body during running; stretching, stretching and relaxation postures reduce pain, accelerate the recovery process of the body, and relax the mind.

Reduces the risk of injury: The constant loading of running sports on the same joints can cause wear, pain, and injuries in these areas in the long term. Incorporating a regular Yoga program into your life and taking advantage of the healing of Asanas can reduce the risk of injury and make it easier for you to keep running for many years.

The development and shortening of intensely working muscle groups, weakness of other underused muscle groups can cause imbalances in body posture. With yoga, you can strengthen less used muscle groups and prevent shortening of commonly used muscles by stretching and lengthening postures. Our body works like a single mechanism, and wear or even unbalanced strength in one area affects other areas. For example, a pain in the calf may be caused by the foot sole not touching the ground while running, or a painful condition in the knee may be caused by a problem in the ankle or hip.

The excessive contraction of the calf muscles or the shortening of the upper leg muscles known as quadriceps also causes knee pain. Stretching and lengthening these muscle groups and ligaments with yoga can relieve pain in other areas. You can use yoga to warm up before running, to prepare the muscles and mind, to give flexibility to the muscles and ligaments after running, to relax, and to prevent the accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles. You can try the breathing exercises we use in Yoga during the running. Especially catching the breath-body harmony and continuing the mindfulness practice will both reduce the risk of injury and increase your performance.

Calf muscles, hind leg (Hamstrings) muscles, hip flexors, Psoas muscle, and abdominal muscles are the most used areas during running sports. While you focus on stretching these areas, you can aim to strengthen other areas. Some of the poses you can include in your yoga program are: Warrior Postures (Virabhadrasana), Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana), Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana), Upward Looking Dog Pose (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana), Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) Legs Up the Wall, Triangle Pose (Trikonasana), Hero Pose (Virasana), Wide Angle Pose (Upavistha Konasana), Bow Pose (Dhanurasana), Cat-Cow Pose, Child Pose (Balasana).

What Yoga Practices Are Good for Runners?

Although we recommend that yoga asana practice be done with an instructor in order to eliminate injuries, we do not think that this is a necessity if you know your body well and do the poses with precision. In post-running yoga asanas, large areas (such as upper leg or hip muscles) can feel intense, but as long as there is no point and stinging pain in the knees, waist, or any joint. Here are the best yoga moves for runners:

Prasarita Padottanasana

Fold forward at the pelvis with feet about one leg-length apart. Depending on the sensitivity of the back of the body, the upper body may remain parallel to the ground, hands can support the upper body on the legs; hands can be placed on the hip bones or they can also come to the ground by bending forward.


If a more intense opening feeling is desired behind a leg, the upper body can be directed to that side; hands may be on the floor or on the leg.

Preparation for Natarajasana Pose

Bend the right and left knee respectively and grasp it with the hands behind the body.


Bend the right leg back at the knee and grasp the inside or outside with the right hand. While folding the upper body forward, try to raise the right leg back and up; If you wish, the left arm can also rise to aid balance. Then repeat for the other side.


Spread the feet about a leg length and turn one foot 45 degrees out. Bend with the knee and foot facing the same direction and transfer your weight to that side. The other soles or only the heel may be on the ground; this will affect different muscle groups within the leg with different intensities. The hands can be in front of the heart, or they can be supports on the ground.


In the yoga series for runners, starting from pose 5, turn the left foot 90 degrees in front of the mat and bring the back knee to the ground. The toe roots on the back may be attached to the ground or the top of the foot may be on the ground. To increase the density of the upper leg muscles in the back, you can kneel towards the groin as much as you want. Hands may be on the hip bones, on the front leg, on the ground, or in the air.

Utthan Pristhasana

Transfer the weight of the upper body forward using Yoga pose 6 for runners; hands or forearms may come to the ground. If there is pressure in the groin in front, you can take the leg a little further out.


Fold forward at the pelvis so that the feet are more closed than a leg length and positioned on two different lines. Hands may come to the hip bones or the ground. Make sure that both hips are in line and that the heel in the back does not come off the floor.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana

Bend the front knee and stretch the lower leg parallel to the front of the mat or take it under you. The roots of the toes on the back can be attached to the ground, or the top of the foot may come to the ground. The upper body can be left long or folded over the front leg.


Lie on your back, bend your knees and place the outside of the left ankle over the right kneecap, keeping the front of the ankle short to protect the knee. Let the left hand pass between the legs and the right hand outside the right leg; Let hands clasp either behind the upper right leg or in front of the right lower leg. Keep the left leg away from the rib cage while the hands pull the leg towards the rib cage.

Ananda Balasana

Open the knees out of the rib cage, grab the arms from the outside of the feet through the legs and push them at the roots of the toes as if the soles of the feet are on the sky. Weight the lower vertebrae towards the ground.

Best Yoga Asanas for Runners

It is very important for runners to rest afterward. Tensioned muscles resort to a number of rest methods in order to gain extra energy and feel more energetic and strong after the energy expended and effort. There are six runner yoga moves prepared for runners here. The runner yoga movements, which are prepared for runners who have just started yoga, are relaxing for your tired tight muscles, but slow down with each yoga movement and pause where you feel pain. As the runner makes yoga movements a routine, you will become aware of the healing power that exists.

Utthita Trikonasana – Extended Triangle

  • The Triangle Pose helps open your chest and makes your shoulders, groin, and hips more flexible.
  • From Tadasana, separate your feet about 3 feet apart.
  • Turn the left foot out to make a 90-degree angle with the left leg.
  • Inhale and stretch your hands at shoulder level.
  • Exhale and stabilize from your hips to your left leg.
  • Put your left toes inside the left foot.
  • Let your right arm rise up and make a T shape with your left hand.
  • Open the chest up and to the right, stretch the torso and spine, and do not bend the waist.
  • Look at the raised hand.
  • Hold the pose by breathing deeply for a few breaths.
  • Inhale, lift your torso. Exhale, let go of your hands.
  • Repeat on the other side.

Anjaneyasana – Crescent Move

  • Improve your flexibility and vitality with this twisting back. It is therapeutic for sciatica.
  • Start Downward Facing Dog Pose.
  • Inhale and lift your left leg up. Exhale and place your left foot between your palms, aligning your knee above your wrist.
  • Place your right knee on the cushion, stretching your foot. Keep your toes wide.

  • Inhale, raise your torso and cross your arms over your head. Join the palms, aligning the hands along with the ears.
  • Exhale and move your hips down and forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your left thigh.
  • Pull your tailbone to the ground as you extend your spine and pull your belly in.
  • Keeping your eyes fixed on your fingertips, breathe in, and lean back.

Ustrasana – Camel Yoga Movement

  • This backward bend opens both the chest and heart chakras.
  • Kneel on the ground with your toes down. Keep your knees hip-distance wide.
  • Place your hands below your waist with fingers pointing up.
  • Breathe in and reach the top of your head towards the sky.
  • Exhale and gently bend back, keeping the buttocks on the heels.
  • Hold the pose for a few breaths and when you are ready, work your back muscles and rise with the inhalation.

Adho Mukha Svanasana – Downward Facing Dog Yoga Movement

  • Come to your four with your ankles lined up with your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
  • Exhale, bend your toes, and push your pelvis and hips towards the ceiling as you lift your knees off the mat and straighten the legs.
  • Open your fingers wider and push your palms firmly into the mat, straightening the arms.
  • Rotate the shoulder blades away from your ears and rotate them back.
  • Put your head between your elbows.
  • Joining the core muscles and quadriceps, push the heels towards the floor and the tailbone towards the ceiling.
  • Breathe in and hold the posture for a few breaths.
  • To get out, breathe in and lower your knees on the mat and stretch your feet and return to the starting position.

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Yoga Movement

  • Open your heart and tone your abdominal area with this gentle backbend.
  • Lie on your back.
  • Bend your knees and rest your soles below your knees, hip-width apart.
  • Place your hands on either side of the body with your palms resting on the cushion.

  • Take a deep breath and press your palms firmly on the mat, lifting the hips towards the ceiling.
  • Pull the chest towards the chin, but do not move the chin towards the chest. Make sure the feet stay parallel.
  • Hold the posture for a few breaths.
  • To get out of the pose, lower the body to the ground. Extend your legs and relax.

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – One-Legged King Pigeon Yoga Movement

  • Open your hips, open your back and abdominal muscles in this magnificent pose.
  • Start with Adho Mukha Svanasana, the Downward Facing Dog pose.
  • Spread your fingers out, raise your hips, and stretch your spine.
  • Balance yourself well on the heels.
  • Inhale and lift your left leg towards the ceiling. As you exhale, bend your left knee and rest between your palms with your left ankle close to your right ankle.
  • Place the right foot on the mat, foot extended and toes facing back.
  • Pressing the fingertips on the ground, stretch your torso away from the thighs.
  • Let the tailbone approach the correct heels.
  • Pull the left thigh toward your midline by pulling down on the shin of the left leg and balancing both hips.

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Savaş Ateş

I like meditation and yoga. I read a lot of books about them. I applied them in my daily life. I want to write about my experiences.

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